Golden roasted coffee beans ready for grinding.
Golden roasted coffee beans ready for grinding. (Photo Credit: Charlie Taylor)

Coffee culture is escalating across the world, demand is increasing, and production is struggling to keep up. So what is it about this dark, seductive, rich, smooth, hot drink – with or without milk? We reach for it after a late night. We drink socially, on the way to work for a morning pick me up, or to relax with after dinner. Prepared in several different ways, depending on your tastebuds and/or the culture which you grew up in. The rising popularity of coffee has led to a demand for coffee machines at home to produce barista quality coffee. There is even a Worldwide Barista Championship held every year. This year baristas from all over the world will come together, on 9-12 November (2017) in Seoul, to battle it out for the coveted World Barista Champion trophy.

Origin

Coffee was discovered, during the 11th Century in Ethiopia. The coffee plant has white flowers, with a scent similar to jasmine, and red cherry like berries. It was originally thought to have medicinal properties. The leaves were boiled in water to make the drink – for 300 years after it was discovered, the same preparation method was used. The fame of the coffee plant escalated, which led to it travelling to other lands. During the 14th century, the use of coffee was widespread in the Arabian Peninsula. The favourable climate and fertile soil of Yemen provided perfect growing conditions to produce a rich harvest.

In 1555 coffee came to Istanbul from Yemen. It was introduced by the Ottoman governor of Yemen, who came to love the drink when stationed in there. It was the Ottoman palace that came up with a new method of producing coffee: by roasting the beans over an open fire, grinding them, and slowly cooking them in water over the ashes of a charcoal fire. When coffee was produced in this way, the pungent aroma was discovered and it’s popularity started to spread worldwide.

Cezve, the original brewing pot used by the Ottoman Palace. Coffee culture has evolved, but the Cezve is still used today
Cezve, the original brewing pot used by the Ottoman Palace and still used today. (Photo Credit: Charlie Taylor)

Fit for Royalty

Coffee soon became a vital part of the palace cuisine and was very popular – so much so, that a Chief Coffee Maker was added to the roster of court functionaries. The Chief Coffee Maker was not only expected to make coffee for the sultan and his patrons, but also expected to be loyal and keep secrets. Coffee soon spread from palace cuisine to grand mansions, and then, to homes of the public. Green coffee beans were purchased, roasted at home in open pans, grounded in mortars, and brewed in pots, known as ‘cezve’. These are still used in Turkey today.

Most of the general public became acquainted with coffee through the establishment of coffeehouses, the first (named Kiva Han) opened, and others rapidly cropped up all over the city. Coffeehouses and coffee culture soon became an integral part of Istanbul social culture. People came throughout the day to read books, play chess, backgammon or discuss poetry and literature.

After this, coffee spread to Europe and eventually the entire world, via merchants and travelers who passed through Istanbul.

Historically, coffee shops were the melting pot for the literati and intellectuals of the society. Whereas today, they are social and business meeting places, study environments, and a place to seek solace from the world and read the news. Not only do we have the varied options of coffee, but now with tea becoming increasingly popular, a coffee house does not just serve coffee.

Today’s Coffee Culture

So has the consumption of coffee changed, since it was first discovered way back in the 11th century? Well not really, we still frequent coffee houses to drink coffee and socialize with other like minded people. Coffee however has become an art form, a profession, and the worldwide championships that take place each year. This is further evidence that this is still a very popular worldwide beverage. You will find baristas serving coffee from customized vintage vehicles at markets. The choice and variety of coffee these days differs from country to country. One thing that is constant is the very important, and much sought after, coffee bean. The days of lukewarm, brownish, tasteless liquid served in polystyrene cups is long gone.

But, it’s not just a drink. It brings people together. In some parts of the world, coffee is a sort of a religious ritual. Worldwide it is a daily ritual, which is neither a custom nor a religion. If we look at how coffee is consumed in the world, most countries – with varied preparation – will drink coffee in the morning, with milk. As the day wears on, in to the evening, it is again a ritual, served after a meal, usually black with or without sugar.

Events and Competitions

There is a surprising amount of events and competitions, around the world, all in the name of coffee. Competitions include annual events such as, World Art Latte, World Brewers Cup, World Cup Tasters Championship, World Coffee Roasting Championship, and Cezve Championship.

If you want to experience a coffee festival, then make a note of some of these annual happenings: London 30 April – 3 May, Amsterdam 10-12 March, Singapore 9-12 June, New York 16-18 September. If all that isn’t enough, there is even a conference on coffee science 13-19 September in China.

Longevity

So can we continue to consume coffee at the rate which we do? Can coffee production meet the demand of today’s world? Is the ritual of coffee drinking, which is increasing worldwide, about to change? With 4 new coffee shops opening daily in China and over 2,000 opened in Europe within the last two years, the pressure is on the producers. Most coffee farmers are small family run businesses and each plant takes 4-5 years to mature before harvesting. Environmental changes are having an impact on production and more modern ways are being sought to produce coffee. The competition for the production of high quality coffee beans will mean that a shortage could lead to an increase in price. So your morning latte may start costing a little more. But who wants to give up their morning fix?

Sacks of coffee waiting to be consumed, coffee culture may have changed but the main ingredient remains the same.
Sacks of coffee waiting to be consumed. (Photo Credit: Charlie Taylor)

Perhaps a substitute will have to be sought to give us our morning boost without the caffeine. We may find ourselves feeling more refreshed anyway.

Pack Your Bags

Dublin, located in north western Europe, enjoys a maritime climate – with cool summers and mild winters. Temperatures range from 20 degrees in the summer, to around 8 or 9 degrees in the winter. Dublin is on the European Standard Time (EST) and the currency is the Euro.

Getting There

Dublin international airport (DUB) offers flights to and from most international destinations. If you are coming from within Europe, it’s also possible to reach Dublin by ferry. From France, Spain, or the United Kingdom, you can travel on Irish Ferries – arriving in Rosslare, a two hour drive from Dublin. Handy if you have a car available, whilst you are there.

Virgin trains have teamed up with Irish Ferries so you can travel from any Virgin station, in the United Kingdom to Ireland, with a rail and sail ticket.

Taxis are available from the airport to the city centre, and can be booked online. Travel to and from the port, can be made by both bus and taxi. Have a look online for further information.

Don’t Miss

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enjoy the famed Irish hospitality at one of the many pubs, whilst sipping on a grand pint of creamy, dark Guinness and soaking up the atmosphere.

Further Information

If you happen to be in Scotland, then make sure to check out this article before you go. Further reading on Amsterdam, London, New York, and Singapore is also available.

The tourist office will provide you with a wealth of information on what to do and see in Dublin, after you have finished tasting coffee and witnessing the Worldwide Barista Championship.

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About Charlie Taylor

Originally from the UK and having travelled extensively professionally and personally, Charlie lives in Voorburg, Zuid Holland and speaks Dutch fluently. A keen Photographer and Writer she plans to visit, photograph, and write about European Cities; and believes that life is full of surprises. . . . .

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4 Responses to "Coffee Culture Around The World"

  1. David ogilvy-white  25/06/2016

    Hi Charlie this is certainly a change from the oil industry. Hope your still cycling that bike you got a wee while back, looks too nice to be gathering dust. Hope you are well still have very fond memories of Spain. All our best sue and David .da

    Reply
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