Joe. Java. Brew. Go Juice. Call it what you will, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the entire world, with over 400 billions cups being consumed every year. Coffee can be consumed in more ways than you can imagine, made by a percolator home, from a coffee shop, from a pod machine or even cowboy style over a campfire.
The number of ways to get your coffee fix are still growing, with new scientific brewing methods and cold brew becoming more accessible for more and more people, and cafes are popping up everywhere. Everyone loves coffee, it seems. But which country leads the charge in coffee consumption? This article looks at which country drinks the most coffee to find the coffee champion of the world, and what the best measurements for this are.
The Big Five
Here are the top 5 coffee consuming countries in kg per capita, and the results may surprise you:
- Finland - 12kg per capita
- Norway - 9.9kg per capita
- Iceland - 9kg per capita
- Denmark - 8.7kg per capita
- The Netherlands - 8.4kg per capita.
Finland: Coffee Champions
Yep, the United States of America didn't break the top 5, or even the top 10! In fact, the USA was number 25, with a comparatively low 4.2 kg per capita, almost a third of Finland. Despite the best efforts of Starbucks, the USA pales in comparison to the coffee drinking of the hardy Finns.
But what does this really mean, and does Finland actually drink 3 times the amount of coffee Americans do? Let's look into the statistics a bit more, and uncover why culture in Finland and Scandinavia in general is so mad about coffee.
Per capita versus total
In coffee consumed per capita Finland is the undisputed champion of the world, but in total coffee consumed perhaps not. Denmark has a population of approximately 5.7 million people. This means that, at 12kg per capita, the country consumes 69.6 million kg. This is a lot of coffee. However, the USA has a population of approximately 331 million. This, with its per capita consumption of 4.2kg, means a total of coffee consumption 1.39 billion kg.
This is obviously much more, but split over the population it looks much less than Finland. So, do Finns really love their coffee more than Americans in general? There are some cultural and practical explanations behind this that make Finland the world's top coffee drinkers.
Coffee in Finland
How did coffee get to Finland? It obviously only grows in the tropic climate around the equator. Coffee first came to Finland in the 17th century from nearby Sweden and Russia, but only became widely available and popular in the 18th century. Coffee was considered a medicine for a long time in Finland, but only reached its superstar status in 1919 when alcohol was banned. Coffee sadly disappeared due to rationing during the Second World War with substitutes like beetroot, but quickly regained its popularity and grew and grew into the national beverage it is today.
Finland, if you didn't know, is cold. Really cold. If you don't believe me, it can get down to 40 degrees below zero. That cold! For most of the year like in most of Scandinavia. This is thought to be a significant factor in its love of coffee, as a hot coffee is a perfect pick me up, and needed for the frosty Scandinavian winters.
Even in the brief summer coffee is popular (usually iced) as coffee has become a familiar pleasure for most of the country. With such a small population, adults drink up to 30 cups a day to make up the 12kg per capita. Finns are serious coffee drinkers. There are other factors that come into play but the cold climate is definitely a contributor to their love of coffee.
Coffee Customs and Culture
Finland has its own distinct culture around coffee unlike others around the world, and this is a large factor in explaining its crazy coffee consumption. Visiting cafes for coffee in Finland is very much a social activity, and more than one cup of coffee is usually drunk. Even more than this, Finnish hospitality means coffee is always served during visits to people's homes. This means anytime there is a visitor everyone has coffee.
As you can imagine this can very quickly add up daily cups of coffee. Finns do not need big brands like Starbucks (there are few in the country) for their coffee and drink most of their coffee in small coffee shops and people's homes. Coffee is also consumed at all number of social occasions. Baby born? Coffee! New job? Coffee! Marriage? Coffee! You get the picture. One of the most cherished occasions for coffee is the famous 'election coffee' known as 'vaalikahvit' to celebrate democracy.
Coffee and Work
Finns are known for being very hard workers, and this is fuelled by their love for coffee. Finns can easily drink over 10 cups of coffee a day at work. Coffee is consumed during work breaks, not just during the hard work. Finnish law dictates at least two 10-15 minute breaks for workers, in addition to a 30 minute lunch break. Coffee is also used as a way to break the ice and meet other workers to build social connections.
As a people Finns are generally quite shy, and a mutual love of coffee is the perfect way to get to know someone. Is there anything coffee can't do? Maybe we should be taking lessons from Finland and improve both our work/life balance and our coffee consumption?
I know very few people who would turn down an additional mandatory break or two, or an extra cup of coffee during their working day. Finns even sometimes leave work for a local cafe for their breaks, also helping local small businesses. I think there is a lot to learn from Finland and their dedication to the magic drink that is coffee.