Coffee, the Global Commodity and the Worldwide Beverage
It all started in Africa, or so the story goes. An Ethiopian goatherd was intrigued by his goats’ behavior after they ate the cherries that were sourced from a specific bush. That bush, Coffea Arabica, is now grown in a narrow band all around the world and drunk in myriad ways anywhere people happen to be living.
In fact, every country has its own unique coffee culture, and in this article, we take a look at some of the more popular global styles of consuming coffee in all its many forms.
Coffee Culture in East Asia
Japan and China may be best known for producing and consuming significant quantities of tea, but coffee is no stranger to Asia, either. In fact, in the Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia and Vietnam—thanks to some degree of influence from the French—have richly developed coffee drinking habits of their own. And in Thailand, thanks to the efforts of a prior king to promote more sustainable coffee practices, an entire culture has developed around the cultivation and consumption of Arabica coffee.
In Cambodia, coffee is roasted in fat until it is very dark and then ground fine and drunk black. In Vietnam, coffee is traditionally drunk in the morning and may be mixed with eggs, yogurt, or fruit.
In Thailand, coffee is drunk throughout the day and may be ordered roasted in fat and freshly brewed in a cloth strainer, or made from instant coffee and poured over ice. It is nearly always consumed with condensed or sweetened condensed milk. Indonesia and Malaysia also have their own distinct coffee cultures.
Coffee Drinking in Central Asia
Like in East Asia, India and the other Central Asian countries may be more closely associated with tea cultivation and consumption. But in southern India, coffee is the drink of choice for many.
In the streets, coffee drinkers get brewed coffee with hot milk and sugar from “kaapi” bars, and meter coffee—coffee with milk poured back and forth between cups at a ridiculous height—is also quite popular.
In modern Iran, it is challenging to drink coffee without being harassed by the morality police, but the coffee drinkers still congregate at the ghahveh khaneh to play games, drink coffee, and smoke.
European Coffee Culture
Perhaps no other continent has gotten behind coffee drinking quite like the nations of Europe. This is evidenced by the sheer variety of coffee preparation and consumption practices.
The English may still have their tea, but for the rest of the continent, it’s either simmering water served with fine ground coffee (Turkey and Greece), steam forced through fine ground coffee (Italian espresso and it’s many popular varieties), espresso with hot milk or steamed milk (cafe au lait or latte—France), or any one of hundreds of other traditions still thriving and evolving across the many diverse nations of Europe.
Coffee Drinking in the Americas
Lastly, we come to the New World—where more coffee is consumed than anywhere else in the world (thanks largely to the bean’s popularity in the United States). In both North and South America, coffee is generally consumed in a variety of fashions imported from Europe. The latte, the cappuccino, and the Americano all have their fans, but brewed drip coffee is the beverage of choice in this hemisphere.