Coffee is one of the most popular non-alcoholic beverages globally, prized for its aroma and caffeine content. Coffee is brewed from roasted beans of the plant species Coffea, which is native to sub-Saharan Africa and individual islands in the Indian Ocean. Coffee is believed to originate in Ethiopia. A national legend credits the goat herder, Kaldi, with discovering the potential of coffee beans. Kaldi observed how energetic his goats became after eating berries from the coffee plant and ground the beans to brew a drink from them.
Coffee cultivation began in the Middle East. By the 15th century, coffee houses were common throughout Turkey, Persia, Syria, and Arabia. Coffee came to Europe in the 16th century, but many Europeans rejected it as an infidel drink. However, Pope Clement VIII (1536-1605) gave his approval to coffee after trying a cup, and the drink spread throughout Europe and the Americas. By the middle of the 17th century, London alone had more than 300 coffee houses, where scientists, artists, writers, merchants, and politicians gathered to drink coffee all night.
Today, coffee is grown in more than 70 tropical countries and enjoyed everywhere. Coffee is the second-most-exported commodity in the world after oil. The top coffee-producing countries globally are Brazil, Vietnam, and Colombia. The highest annual per-person consumption occurs in Scandinavian countries, where long, dark, and cold winters make coffee highly prized. In the United States, annual consumption is about 4.4 kilograms or 9.7 lbs., making the U.S. only the 25th biggest consumer of coffee worldwide on a per-person basis. The average person in the U.S. consumes about three cups of coffee per day.
Top 10 Countries that Drink the Most Coffee Per Person (kg/lbs per year) (International Coffee Organization 2016)
1. Finland — 12 kg/26 lbs — Finland is the world's biggest consumer of coffee on a per-person basis. The average Finn drinks nearly four cups a day. Coffee is so popular in Finland that two 10-minute coffee breaks are legally mandated for Finnish workers.
2. Norway — 9.9 kg/22 lbs — Norwegians drink more than three cups of coffee a day. Coffee houses are popular in Norway, and unlike in the United States, they are primarily places to socialize, not to work or to carry a drink out.
3. Iceland — 9 kg/20 lbs — Beer was illegal in Iceland until 1987, and wine is costly, so coffee has long been the most essential social drink in the country. It is customary in Iceland to offer any visitor a cup of coffee, and Icelanders have a stock reply, tíu dropar, or "ten drops," to indicate that they just want a small cup.
4. Denmark — 8.7 kg/19 lbs — In Denmark, the word kaffeslabberas means an informal social gathering where coffee and cake is offered, often after dinner. At weddings, people will often be explicitly invited for the bryllupskaffe or wedding coffee reception.
5. Netherlands — 8.4 kg/19 lbs — Dutch merchants first introduced coffee to the West, shipping entire coffee plants from the Yemeni port of Mocha to India and Indonesia, where they were grown on plantations to supply beans to Europe.
6. Sweden — 8.2 kg/18 lbs — Swedes have a word, Fika, to describe an extended coffee break from work where you socialize with friends. Swedes spend on average 9.5 days per year having a fikarast.
7. Switzerland — 7.9 kg/17 lbs — The Swiss combined coffee and wine to create a popular drink, Luzerner Kafi, which is red wine added to thin coffee with sugar. The Swiss also created Nespresso, one of the most popular coffee brands in the world.
8. Belgium — 6.8 kg/15 lbs — The Belgian cities of Brussels and Antwerp have thousands of coffee houses, including Wittamer's, which serves brûlot, an espresso drink of sugar, cinnamon, cloves, shredded lemon peel, and warm cognac set alight.
9. (tie) Luxembourg — 6.5 kg/14 lbs — Despite being one of the world's smallest countries, Luxembourg has thousands of coffee houses, from elegant houses with white linen table cloths to small, stand-up coffee bars.
10. (tie) Canada — 6.5 kg/14 lbs — The only top ten consumer not located in Europe, Canada spawned one of the world's first coffee chains, Tim Horton's, which makes three out of every four cups of coffee sold in Canada.
Another metric frequently used by the International Coffee Organization to measure coffee consumption is the total volume of coffee beans consumed. While per-capita consumption metrics take a country's population into account, this metric simply computes the total number of 60-lb bags of dry coffee beans each country consumes.