Coffee Culture

Coffee… I personally need it to wake up in the morning, but for some others drinking coffee is all about a social gathering. Coffee is consumed all over the world and so it is logical to see some differences in the way it is prepared, the ingredients, or the traditions that come along with it. While in the Netherlands drinking coffee is all about sitting and chatting together, in Italy coffee is often a tiny cup consumed while standing up in a bar. In and out of the bar could literally take 2 minutes! In the US, often big coffees are bought ‘on the go’ and people drink it while commuting to work.

Here are some examples of the Coffee Culture in different countries:

1. Spain : Cafe con Hielo


It is often not mentioned on the menu in bars or restaurants, but my Spanish friends have taught me during our trips to Spain that it is actually very normal on a warm Summer day to ask for a ‘Cafe con Hielo’. Cafe con Hielo literally means ‘Coffee with Ice’, and so you would get a small coffee, and usually a separate small glass with ice cubes. You will then pour the warm coffee in the glass with the ice and drink it ‘on the rocks’.

2. Turkey : Coffee with Grounds and Fortune Telling


In Turkey, drinking coffee is an important tradition and a social gathering, as it is not only drinking the coffee, but also fortune telling in the grounds that are left in the cup. Yes, the Turkish coffee is prepared unfiltered and so they drink it with the grounds! If you have read our Turkish Recipe on the blog, you will have seen that my Turkish friend has made one of these special coffees for me.

Turkish coffee is very strong and, you drink it until you only almost have the left-over coffee grounds in your cup. These coffee grounds are then used for fortunetelling. You have to put a saucer on top of your coffee cup, turn it upside down towards you, and let it cool off. Once it is cooled off, you turn it around again to read the drawings and patterns that the coffee grounds designed in the cup! I loved the design of the grounds that were left in my cup!


3. Italy: Cappuccino, Ristretto, and the Goodwill Coffee

Italy’s coffee culture is famous around the world! A Cappuccino or Ristretto can be bought everywhere. What is interesting is that I recently read on internet about the Goodwill Coffee or Suspended Coffee. The ‘Caffè Sospeso’ is a coffee paid for in advance as an anonymous act of charity. It is an initiative that started in Naples during the Second World War. Neapolitans that were doing well, would order a coffee and pay for 2 coffees so that other people who could not afford a coffee would be able to ask in bars if they had any ‘Caffè Sospeso’. Since this goodwill coffee has become less usual, and to make it revive, on December 10th 2011, the mayor of Naples and some associations have installed ‘The Day of the Suspended Coffee’ (La Giornata del Caffè Sospeso). Let’s hope good initiatives like this one will last!

4. Cafe Cubano

Aimee, who shared a delicious dish from Cuba with us before, says this about Cuban Coffee: ‘Many countries sell Cuban coffee outside of Cuba. My favorite brand is ‘Cafe La Llave’. In Cuba ‘Cafe’ is brewed with a little bit of brown sugar added before serving, and it typically has the tiniest of foam on top, but nothing like the mounds of foam in drinks like a cappuccino for instance. A ‘Cortadito’ is the same as a Cafe with a tiny bit of milk, but nothing like a latte. And then ‘Cafe con Leche’ is our version of a latte and my personal favorite!’

5. The Netherlands, Haagsche Hopjes

There is no specific way of drinking coffee in the Netherlands, but drinking coffee is a big thing! It is all about the social aspect, about ‘gezellig’, a word difficult to translate, but which explains a situation of comfort, well-being and fun. Since the Dutch love coffee so much, one of our traditional foods also has coffee flavor. It’s a candy from The Hague, called ‘Haagsche Hopjes’. The candy originated in the 18th century and is named after a Baron who was addicted to coffee. If you are a coffee lover traveling to the Netherlands, this is a good souvenir to bring home with you!

6. France, Café au lait

In France, the Café au lait is very popular in the morning. It has the same amount of coffee and milk and a lot of French dip their morning croissant into their Café au lait. Yum!

7. Ethiopia, the origin and a coffee ceremony

Coffee is so important in Ethiopia that it even has its own ceremony! This is not surprising since according to Rahel, with whom I have cooked an Ethiopian dish, coffee actually has its origin here!

Rahel says says nowadays people are too busy to do the ceremony, but they still do it on Sundays. You should not be in a hurry for the ceremony, as you should at least drink 3 cups of coffee.

I had the honor to experience a real coffee ceremony with Rahel who roasted the coffee beans on her kitchen stove. ‘Normally, the beans are roasted on charcoal’ she says, and the roasting of the coffee is all part of the ceremony. Once the beans are roasted, they make the guest smell the beans, which is part of the ceremony. I personally love the smell of coffee beans, so I am quite happy when this delicious smell fills up Rahel’s kitchen! In the meanwhile, water is boiled on the stove in a traditional coffee pot. Rahel mixes the roasted beans in a small mixer and adds the coffee into the pot. She pours it several times into a small cup for the coffee to mix well. Out of this pot, we drink our first two cups of coffee, after which the coffee is heated again while adding water, and then the third cup of coffee is served. The taste of the coffee is really very good and so I happily drink my third cup!

8. Finland, coffee poured over cheese… (no, you did not misread this…)

The Finns are amongst the biggest coffee drinkers in the world! What I did not know is that they also love the odd combination of coffee and cheese! This way of drinking coffee is called ‘Kaffeost’. A few pieces of typical Finnish cheese are put in a cup and the coffee is poured over it. Some people say it gives your coffee a ‘Tiramisu’ like taste.

9. Ireland, Irish coffee


Obviously, this is not a morning coffee, but Irish coffee is famous around the world and can be ordered in most restaurants. Irish coffee is prepared in a glass and not a cup, and is made with whiskey, sugar, coffee and whipped cream. Beautiful of course if you would be able to prepare it with the three different layers: the whiskey and sugar, the coffee, and the whipped cream on top. Important is that the whiskey and sugar should be at the same temperature when you prepare the coffee. To make the layers and to prevent the coffee from mixing immediately with the whiskey, a known technique is to bend 1 teaspoon (which will then be useless apart for making the Irish Coffee), hold it at the height of the first layer (warm whiskey and sugar), and then pour the coffee in the glass via the teaspoon. Once you are done with the layers, a bit of cacao powder is usually added on top.

10. Fitmama from Denmark: a portable coffee bomb for busy parents on the go!

Now, this is not a traditional Danish way of drinking coffee but I loved the solution Michelle from the Danish website Fitmama has thought of. Michelle is a real coffee lover, and as a busy mother of four, she needed a portable solution 😊. And so she has created her own recipe for ‘Coffee Candy’! The candy is a bit like a wine gum or gumdrop, and they look really beautiful! Michelle says they are a good booster for tired moms (or dads) and the gelatin is good for your hair, skin and nails. A multifunctional candy you can eat without feeling guilty, yay!

Michelle has kindly shared her recipe with us, so you can give it a try:


  • 1 double espresso (100/150ml)
  • 50ml of cream
  • 1 big tablespoon of butter
  • 1 big tablespoon of coconut oil (in case you don’t have this you can leave it out)
  • 3 big tablespoons of gelatin powder (the equivalent of gelatin sheets would be much more and I haven’t found the right combination yet, so I will start looking for gelatin powder).
  • Optional: you can add a bit of cacao butter, vanilla or honey according to your liking

How to prepare:

  • Prepare the coffee and let it cool off.
  • Stir the gelatin in it and leave it to rest for a few minutes.
  • Heat it up slowly in a small pot and add the rest of the ingredients while you stir.
  • When all is well mixed, you pour the mixture into your candy molds, or ice cube tray and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, you and your portable coffee bombs are ready to go!

This recipe also works with fresh fruit juice for the kids. So that everyone has their own multifunctional candy!

And you? How do you like your coffee?