Brewing Connections: The Rich Tapestry of Coffee Culture Around the World

Image of three coffees being held together by different hands. Two are milk based coffees, one is an iced black coffee.
Katie Sullivan


As a self-confessed caffeine fiend, when I thought of coffee culture, I thought of the poignant aesthetic of the humble coffee shop. However, upon my research, one of the initial associations with ‘coffee culture’ was the description of coffee particularly ‘as a social lubricant’ and a huge community for whom coffee is the hottest topic of debate! As well as the coffee culture community, I stumbled across the concept of ‘coffee tourism’ – for which my world travel savings account has already been exchanged for. Travel fuelled by coffee? Sign me up immediately! Coffee tourism generally revolves around the humble beginnings of the beany beverages we drink today, which can include visiting the farms on which the beans are grown, as well as coffee tasting experiences. ‘Coffee tourism is increasingly becoming an integral part of the global tourism industry’!

Hand of farmers holding cherries coffee bean on hand

Prendiamo un Caffè!

Most of the cultural daily routine in Italy is governed by times to sip coffee and the types of coffee you sip

I don’t know about you, but I know that when I think of the origins of coffee, my mind initially drifts over to the European continent and to Italy. Cappuccino? Espresso? Landing in Italy in the 1500s, coffee is such a staple in the country that most of the cultural daily routine is governed by times to sip coffee and the types of coffee you sip. A cappuccino is recommended at breakfast accompanied with a pastry; however, the time must be made to enjoy your cappuccino at breakfast as takeaway cups are a big NO in Italian coffee culture. Coffee is well and truly considered a social activity and therefore may not be taken away with you – even if you’re running late for work. In addition to that, the rulebook states that milky coffees may not be ordered after 11am and especially not after a meal. Therefore, your afternoon or evening caffeine kicks may only come from a caffè or regular espresso in order to fully immerse yourself in the Italian culture. In sum, for the vast majority of Italians, coffee culture in Italy is Italian culture.

Italian espresso and biscuit

Pick-Me-Ups Down Under

Aside from the Italian twang that attaches itself to the Cappuccino or the Macchiato, I often find difficulty in pronouncing the Flat White sans Australian twang. This is a controversial topic at best, with debates to be had on whether the fabulous Flat White originally hailed from Australia or New Zealand. Nonetheless, the Aussies are another nation renowned for their coffee culture. Stemming from Italian migrants after World War II, Australian coffee shops have popped up all over the globe, putting up a fair fight with the American and Italian heroes of modern franchises. The arrival of European coffee in the 1950s is ‘remembered by many as a key watershed between a drab past and a cosmopolitan present’ according to historians at the University of Melbourne. The humble Flat White came from the Aussie habit of blending the cultural influences of its history. It combines the velvety milk from the British custom of enjoying a hot cup of tea or instant coffee with milk, along with the passion for the new and exciting Italian espresso. Australia’s ability to mix and match cultural customs and make them the best of their own is a reflection of the way their country has come about, leading them to become the connoisseurs of their own creations.

Coffee Champions

In my research of coffee cultures, one nation I did not expect to stumble across is actually holder of the top spot for drinking the most coffee per person (2016): Finland. It was recorded that the average Finn drinks nearly 4 cups a day, and two 10-minute coffee breaks are mandatory in the workday. That works out to approximately 12kg of coffee per person per year! In fact, interestingly enough, Scandinavia occupies a large portion of the top spots for countries that consume the most coffee per person, with Canada coming in at number 10, the only country not in Europe. Be right back, just searching for journalist vacancies in Finland so I can claim my 2×10 minute daily breaks…

67.7% of students picked coffee as their favourite drink

studying with coffee

Students are renowned for their high caffeine intake. Even though many get their kicks from Redbulls these days rather than coffee, 67.7% picked coffee as their favourite drink! Studies have proven that the caffeine content in coffee can stimulate the brain in a way that is beneficial to studying and academic performance. However, a significant proportion of caffeine users have also reported poor sleep quality. Then again, we have a coffee to wake us up in the mornings for that, don’t we?

Coffee Escapades

While visiting some of the countries mentioned above to experience their coffee cultures first-hand may seem like an option for a coffee lover, true connoisseurs might consider the slightly more extravagant option of taking on a coffee experience. Colombia, a frequent home of the coffee bean, offers a wide range of coffee experiences, with many being rated best in the world. And if you have time and want to make a month of it, a tour of the South Americas might be in order, to see the sights and experience some of the best coffee cultures that the world has to offer. Or, if you wanted to go in another direction, the African homelands of the beans offer a number of extraordinary experiences also.

Where To Get It?

Portland Coffee Co University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham boasts a number of cafés serving one of the world’s greatest loves and a variety of brands at that. Hallward Library is now offering a small brand founded in 2015 called Change Please, which aims to end homelessness through selling their beans. You can still find classic Starbucks in the Monica Partridge Building or George Green Library. Their biggest competitor, Costa, are at the bottom of the Djanogly steps in the Portland Building along with the University’s own student coffee shop Portland Coffee Co – my personal favourite. 200-degree coffee are a Nottingham local brand who have a number of shops and supply coffee all over the city if you want to keep your coffee culture local. 

Katie Sullivan

Featured image courtesy of Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image 1 courtesy of Nguyen Tong Hai Van via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image 2 courtesy of Jonathan Pielmayer via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image 3 courtesy of Unseen Studio via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image 4 courtesy of University of Nottingham Students’ Union via Facebook. No changes were made to this image.

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