If you’re a coffee lover, it’s pretty safe to say you’re in good company. There may be global communities of fans for all manner of drinks, hobbies, sports and so on, but coffee lovers have a tendency to be some of the most dedicated and genuinely enthusiastic of them all, with good reason too, as there’s a world of amazing decadence to explore and discover that spans much further than the bog-standard jar of instant coffee gracing most kitchen cupboards.

Every morning, tens of millions of people wake up with only one thing in mind – the coffee they need to function as a human being. For some it’s a simple form of early morning medicine and for some it’s the ultimate comfort, but in any and all cases it’s the kind of thing we just couldn’t imagine living without. Coffee culture should be embraced and relished for all it is, but next time you’re out at your favourite café sipping on the good stuff, take a second to think what your coffee loving counterparts on the other side of the world might be doing.

Surely you must have wondered how coffee lovers around the world indulge their desires, right?

The Netherlands

Let’s kick off with Holland, where the idea of the coffee shop has two very distinctively different incarnations. Mainstream coffee culture in the Netherlands revolves around the late-afternoon coffee-and-cake consumption session. Head to any respectable coffee house…you’ll note they don’t call these places coffee shops…around 5pm and chances are you’ll be surrounded by Dutch coffee lovers sipping on hugely full-bodied Indonesian Arabica coffee with a couple of slices of cake. Needless to say, it’s a pretty brilliant way of rounding off the working day.


Turkish coffee is a bit of an acquired taste in the west, but is nothing less than a way of life to the folks over in the land itself. The importance of coffee to Turkey really cannot be overstated as this is a country that’s something of a 24/7 hub of chaotic social and business activity – all of which revolves around the usual cup of coffee. As for Turkish coffee houses, you’re unlikely to see a woman in one unless you’re in one of the most developed tourist hubs, so it’s common to feel a bit like the proverbial sore thumb. And as mentioned, Turkish coffee isn’t the number-one in the West but is certainly a glory for real coffee lovers. Beans are ground very finely in order to allow them to sink and settle at the bottom of the cup.


It’s definitely not the first place that springs to mind when you think of modern coffee culture, but Indonesia really is a hotbed of coffee drinking and general java appreciation. Not that it’s in any way the same beast as it is on the West – it’s an amalgamation of influences that produces something both unique and superb. They drink gallons of the stuff and it’s a hugely social tool to say the least – the most popular preparation being a super-strong black coffee called Coffee-O. Having survived a great many hardships and attained proud independence, at least 90% of the coffee consumed in Indonesia is now sourced exclusively from local farms and suppliers.


To say that Italians take their coffee seriously would be a bit like saying Mozart was mildly fond of music. In Italy, coffee is more of a religion than a drink and with any religion comes all manner of rules and commandments. If you think it’s as easy as making up your order on the spot, think again! For example, any coffee drunk after dinner must be anything BUT milky, plus you’re likely to earn a pretty scolding stare from the barista if you dare pollute your coffee with flavourings and syrups. If heading to Italy, be sure to read a full guide to its coffee culture prior to packing.


Thought it was the US that drank the most coffee in the world? Well, think again, as on a per-capita basis it is in fact Finland that steals the crown. The Finnish are simply obsessed with coffee and it shows, with a daily average consumption rate of five cups per person. However, it’s only as of late that Finland’s love for coffee has really started to blossom and the drink itself is somewhat different to the coffee most would consider conventional. Beans are roasted extremely gently to produce a coffee with much less body, which according to some is a deliberate means by which to make the most of Finland’s superior quality water which delivers more flavour in its own right.


As for Vietnam, here’s a country that’s played a more important role in global coffee culture than most would have ever guessed. Prior to the Vietnam War, the country was one of the world’s key players for both coffee production and export, though along with much of the nation as a whole, the industry was largely destroyed by the conflict. A couple of decades ago however things started to once again move in a favourable direction, after which is didn’t take long for Vietnam to claw itself back to the world’s number-two position. However, such was the surge in the export of much cheaper Vietnamese Robusta beans that global coffee prices on the whole crashed to such an extent that the whole market very nearly collapsed.

So, of course there was only one thing to do in response to such heavy production – try and make sure that the world drinks as much of the stuff as possible! That was the approach of the International Coffee Organisation and the results were and are impressive to say the least. Coffee prices have risen but so too has consumption, which is particularly clear in places like China, Japan, India and the UK where tea has traditionally been the main obsession.