With a Starbucks on seemingly every street corner, McDonald's rebrand of many locations to McCafe, and Dunkin Donuts as an integral part of many morning commutes, it's hard to believe that anyone drinks more coffee than Americans. Yet, on a per capita coffee consumption basis, the USA is a medium-sized beverage, in a sea of extra-large coffee-drinking nations.
While coffee drinking originated in Yemen in the 15th century, and a Parisian café or an Italian espresso bar is often the first thought when pondering coffee and its drinkers' "home," none of these nations make the top ten in terms of how much coffee is consumed per capita. So how do the countries of the world stack up when it comes to coffee consumption?
1 – Finland: 26.45 lbs per capita
If you've ever met a Finn, you know that the national average of 26.45 lbs (12 kg) per capita is probably on the low end for most in Finland. If you were to take children out of the calculation, the national average would rise even higher!
Coffee is typically consumed all day, every day, and coffee breaks are required by most workers' unions. Special occasions and post-church luncheons are celebrated with a coffee table: a buffet of cold sandwiches, slices of bread, cookies and cakes, and of course, endless "kahvia."
The most popular coffees in Finland are very light roasts, much lighter than anywhere else in the world. The traditional Finnish way of brewing coffee is a variation on Turkish coffee where water and coffee grounds are brought just barely to a boil repeatedly.
Finnish coffee culture may stem from varying influences such as Lutheran work ethic, Swedish rule, and several prohibitions on coffee, but one thing is for sure: coffee isn't going anywhere anytime soon. If you are ever invited to a Finnish home prepare to be met with hot pots of coffee—just don't ask for decaf, it's virtually non-existent in this Nordic country.
2 – Norway: 21.82 lbs per capita
Like most European countries, coffee in Norway was first made popular among the wealthy in the early 18th century. Even though Norway was a relatively developing country, being ruled by Denmark at the time had its benefits; in this case, lots of cheap java.
Kaffe is typically served black at breakfast, and with dessert after dinner. Norwegians also commonly invite people over specifically for coffee, served with cakes and pastries. 80% of the roughly 5 million people of the nation drink coffee, many at a rate of four to five a day. If you are ever in rural Norway, don't forget to try "karsk," a cocktail made with weakly brewed coffee, sugar, and a hefty helping of moonshine. Don't worry, if it's too strong you can always light it aflame to burn off some of the alcohol!
3 – Iceland: 19.84 lbs per capita
There is definitely some correlation between cold climates and a cup of coffee—perhaps it adds a perfect touch of coziness to staying inside on a cold, dark day. Like its other northern European counterparts, the island country of Iceland enjoys its coffee.
In the capital city of Reykjavik, you won't find coffee giants like Starbucks or Second Cup. However, there is no shortage of smaller, independent coffee shops scattered across the city, many in close radius to one another. In case there was any question whether or not Iceland takes its coffee drinking seriously, the country hosts competitions which place baristas and roasters against one another, in a quest to find the country's highest quality brew.
4 – Denmark: 19.18 lbs per capita
If the Nordic nations are the kings of coffee, this nation is appropriately the Danish Prince of the hot brown drink. Residents of the kingdom sip about 1.46 cups of coffee per day.
Like other Scandinavians, coffee in Denmark traditionally is served at each meal and becomes the central focus during special occasions, served with cookies, cakes, and small sandwiches. Danes rank slightly better on another statistic, having the sixth most expensive coffee in the world, so each of those coffees cost them a pretty krone. So grab a Danish-made Bodum coffee press and some aptly named danishes, and dream about spring in Copenhagen.
5 – Netherlands: 18.52 lbs per capita
In 1616, the Dutch were the first Europeans to obtain live coffee trees, brought back from Mocha, Yemen, by Pieter van den Broecke. The beans from these coffee bushes were then used to begin Dutch coffee cultivation, with the colonies of Java and Suriname eventually becoming significant suppliers of coffee to Europe.
Nowadays, coffee houses in Amsterdam are well known for serving coffee alongside another specialty item: marijuana (but don't let that cloud your vision), and coffee culture is still strong and rich in the Netherlands. On average, the Dutch drink 2.4 cups per day.
Coffee is served in the home for "Koffietijd" (Coffee Time), usually with cookies and cakes. Interestingly the coffee culture is somewhat split between the North and South and along religious lines. The North was traditionally populated with Protestants who prefer to serve coffee with only one cookie, seen as a gesture of modesty. In the South, usually inhabited by Roman Catholics, Koffietijd typically includes "vlaai," a sizeable sweet pie.
6 – Sweden: 18 lbs per capita
In Sweden, there is a concept known as "fika," which means "to have coffee." With this concept, the pairing of cookies or pastries is implied. A variety of situations can qualify as a "fika," whether it be a break during the working day or a social gathering. The one important common denominator is that there is coffee involved.
Many Swedes take their coffee very seriously, to the point where it is not only a beverage in the country, but a way of life. Although coffee can certainly be enjoyed in the comfort of one's home, alone, coffee is, for the most part, a social interaction. In major cities like the capital of Stockholm, coffee shops, chains, and independent locations alike, can be found in abundance.
7 – Switzerland: 17.42 lbs per capita
Like many countries making this list, coffee is a social activity in Switzerland. Espresso-based drinks are particularly popular in this central European country, including the "caffè crema," a type of espresso drink similar to an Americano that is said to have originated in Switzerland near the Italian border. Unlike many of its Scandinavian counterparts, filter coffee is less popular amongst the Swiss.
For the average Swiss who drinks an average three cups a day, coffee can be an expensive pastime, as a cup of coffee in a cafe can be as high as $4.64 USD.
8 – Belgium: 15 lbs per capita
When you think of Belgium, visions of waffles and beer may dance in your head, but Belgium has a long history of pairing their national obsession with chocolate with their coffee.
As a former colonial power in Africa, Belgium was able to feed its demand for coffee by growing the plant in the Congo and Rwanda. Today, with coffee shops in every town, it's easy to grab a quick cup to accompany the world-famous waffles that are the nation's answer to a donut.
9 – Luxembourg: 14.33 lbs per capita
Luxembourg may be a small country, but its love for coffee is big. This low western European country drinks around 14.33 lbs (6.5 kg) per capita per year, on average. In the capital of Luxembourg City, coffee shops abound, serving both pure filter drip coffee as well as artisan drinks. Some of the espresso drinks unique to Luxembourg include a "lait Russe," or "Russian Milk," which is essentially a latte, or a "café gourmand," a type of espresso drink originating in France that is intended to be served with a dessert.
10 – Canada: 14.33 lbs per capita
Canada stands out as the only non-European country to make the list of the world's top ten coffee consumers. From east to west, Canadians love their coffee. Although popular chains are common across the country, every city in Canada is often home to a number of independent shops as well. The drink is so popular in this country of 37 million that the Coffee Association of Canada calls it the most commonly consumed beverage among adults in the country.
Despite the prevalence of coffee shops in Canada, many Canadians prefer to drink their coffee at home. Cold weather and long winters have been stated as a popular pull factor, drawing residents into the allure of the hot brown beverage.