One beverage effortlessly transcends geographical borders and cultures around the world: coffee. From the fast culture of to-go coffee in the US to the slow savoring of espresso at Italian bars (which, contrary to their name, sell coffee and food, not just alcohol) inviting someone to coffee is a common way to bring people together across the globe.
Did you know that coffee traces its origins to Ethiopia? Legend states that a goat herder named Kaldi first noticed the invigorating effects of the red berries his goats had grazed upon. Word quickly spread from Ethiopia to the Arabian Peninsula, where coffee cultivation and trade began. By the 15th century, coffee was being grown in the Yemeni district of Arabia. By the 16th century, it had arrived in Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. And by the 17th century, coffee had made its way to Europe and subsequently to the Americas.
As coffee spread, coffee houses became centers of social activity and cultural tradition. For example, Viennese coffee house culture is even inscribed in UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.
Across the seven continents, each culture has its own special take on coffee. According to a Turkish proverb, coffee should be “black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.” (And by the way, Turkish coffee culture is as strong as its coffee, joining Viennese coffee houses on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.) Ethiopians have a coffee ceremony, which is a communal ritual valued for its symbolism and social bonding. Colombian coffee reflects the very land of the country. Here, it’s not the brewing or roasting process but the perfect growing climate that creates their high quality coffee beans.
No matter how you like to take your coffee, there’s something to learn from every coffee culture around the world. Check out our infographic below to learn more about coffee across cultures: