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Coffee Culture

  • Coffee Culture: United Kingdom

    Hello coffee fans!

    Today we're taking a look into the culture of coffee in the United Kingdom! Join us for a look at what it's like to have a cup of joe across the pond!

    Big Ben, London

    Coffee In the UK

    The British coffee industry has boomed over the last ten years, increasing cups per day by 25 million! This and other facts about the UK's coffee craze came out in a 2018 study from the British Coffee Association. It found that Brits consume a whopping 95 million cups of coffee per day. This is surprising for us on the American side of the Atlantic. Here, we tend to view the UK as a tea drinking nation, and historically this is true. It is only in recent decades that the British has made the switch to coffee. Also interesting is where they're drinking our favorite caffeinated beverage.

    The study found that well over half of coffee in the UK is consumed at home. This clashes with the notion that most coffee drinkers are doing it in shops and restaurants. In fact, a mere 10% of coffee was found to be drank in cafes. By contrast, Reuters found that American drink as much as 36% of their coffee on the go or in coffee shops. Quite the difference!

    The UK has even seen an explosion of third wave roasters. While Americans may consider this country to be the epicenter of the specialty roasting movement, some Brits would argue otherwise. Despite the figures above, café culture is also booming in the island nation. Coffee drinkers there love espresso, with lattés, cappuccinos, and au laits being common orders at the local coffee shop.

    All of this is in opposition to the history of coffee in the UK. Until recently, most coffee drinkers preferred instant coffee for its simplicity. The shift to third wave roasting is often attributed to millennials seeing coffee as upper class and desirable. Either way, Britain continues to develop into a coffee loving nation!

  • Coffee Culture: Canada

    Coffee is a 6.2 BILLION dollar industry in Canada. Our favorite beverage is a big deal just a few hours north of us here in Seattle! In fact, coffee is the most consumed beverage in Canada by adults. That means adults in the great white north drink coffee more than beer, wine, soda, even tap water! So what makes Canadian coffee culture tick? How different is it than our own coffee scene in the United States? We thought we'd find out!

    The Coffee Association of Canada found that 72% of adults drink coffee daily in the country in 2018. Wow! Of that number, 60-70% of them, broken down by ethnic group, prepare their coffee at home. Most Canadians favor drip coffee, but espresso based drinks are becoming more and more popular. Only 13% of adults with a coffee brewer own an espresso machine, so most espresso is consumed from cafés and restaurants.  However, 59% of those with a brewer at home have a drip brewer, showing the preference for drip coffee. There's also a large number of instant coffee drinkers, but with fantastic roasters like 49th Parallel on the rise, the paradigm is shifting.

    Much like in the United States, specialty roasting is largely being done in major cities. Vancouver B.C., just a few hours away from our home in Seattle, has many roasters like 49th supported by bustling cafés. This thriving coffee tradition has a long history. The first coffee shop in Toronto opened all the way back in 1801, and coffee has continued to be a popular beverage since. Coffee shops across the country run the gamut from trendy spots all the way to homey, family run cafés.

    Many coffee shops in Quebec model, as expected, European affairs. From Italian and French inspired facades to more traditional drinks, these shops feature classic, beautiful atmosphere. As you might expect, Canadian coffee culture is as vast and diverse as what we experience in the United States!

  • Coffee Culture: Thailand

    Last week saw the return of one of our favorite features: Coffee Collaboration! Our new host, Clementine, shared a recipe for making Thai Iced Coffee. Check it out here! We love the video so much that it led to a deeper look at Thai coffee culture. We wanted to share that with you in the return of our Coffee Culture blog series!

    Producer/Consumer

    Thailand's coffee culture is interesting because it's also a major producer! In many cases, because roasting coffee is an expensive endeavor, drinking coffee isn't a part of the lives of the people producing it. Thailand primarily produces robusta beans, which are generally considered lower quality than their Arabica counterparts. This means that much of the coffee produced in Thailand goes towards producing blends and instant coffee. With that said, a push is being made to plant and harvest more Arabica beans. Either way, coffee production remains a rich, historical trade in many Asian countries, and Thailand is not different!

    It is exciting, then, that the Thai people love this drink so much too! Coffee shops gained popularity in the 20th century as places to share news and talk politics. Because of the scarcity of televisions and other communication equipment, news traveled by word of mouth up until wider access to the Internet in Thailand. The popularity of these hangouts culturally also led to a love of consuming coffee as well! That's something that remains true to this day. Whether ordering out of a cart or café, coffee lovers in Thailand drink this beverage all day, every day. In this way, coffee consumption in the country is quite similar to the way it's consumed in the West. The main differences come from the way it's roasted and brewed!

     

    But how do they brew?

    Kafae Boran (or ancient coffee) is an interesting, unique roasting and brewing method developed in Thailand during WWII. Developed to answer the problem of scarcity, this method involved dark roasting robusta beans with grains, spice, and sugars. Sometimes even soy beans were used in the roast's production! From there, the coffee is brewed with a cotton filter and steeping in boiling water, in a manner similar to tea. Finally, sweetened or condensed milk is generally added to taste. Kafae Boran remained the dominate method of coffee roasting and brewing for decades in Thailand, but was joined by instant coffee. Near the end of the 20th century Starbucks began operating in the country. This led to wider availability of more kinds of culture. Despite this, Kafae Boran remains popular.

    One brew method that has found success in America is oliang. The word translates to "black cold," which when applied in this context refers to iced coffee! The Kafae Boran brew method is typically used, with ice being added brewing. From there condensed (gopi) or fresh (yoklo) milk can added. Thai restaurants will frequently add both to create the sweet "Thai Iced Coffee" you might be familiar with. Many street vendors even serve this cool treat in a bag with a straw instead of in a cup!

    We hope you've enjoyed this look at how coffee is enjoyed in this wonderful country. We'll have more coffee culture for you soon!

  • Piecewise Coffee Co. - Bio

    An introduction to Stanton and Piecewise Coffee!

    Over the past few months, we've had the pleasure of working with Stanton and Lindsey Scoma on starting their brand new coffee shop! They are looking forward to improving their community of Cayce, South Carolina through coffee! Stanton came to us for advice, and ultimately the purchase of, the equipment in their new shop. We thought it'd be a great opportunity to take a closer look on what it's like to build out and open a coffee shop! Over the coming months we'll talk to Stanton about topics like choosing a machine, building a drink menu, building out the space, and loads more. This week we thought we'd provide an introduction to the Scomas, so read on to learn more about this passionate, hard-working family!

    What’s your history with coffee?

    I’m a chemical engineer by trade, so processes, procedures, and extraction are in my blood. I love the taste of a good cup of coffee and early in 2015 I started realizing there is a true system + method to what gives you amazing taste. The taste that helps us all feel like we can truly seize the day. My wife bought me a ChemEx for Valentine’s Day, I “stole” my twin brother’s burr grinder and the rest is history!

    My wife’s history is somewhere between a long dependence for an early morning cup of joe and anything special I can make for her. She inherently knows when it’s disgusting and when it’s perfection. She’s a sucker for the smell and always thinks it tastes better with a dash of cream + dessert.

    What led you to want to open a coffee shop?

    Like we said earlier, we are true dreamers at heart. Our brains are constantly thinking of all the wonderful things we could be a part of. We would drive by a run-down gas station and talk about how a cute coffee shop could give the area and community a facelift. A coffee shop isn’t just a business, it is a place where community is given the opportunity to gather together. It is a business you don’t just open for yourself, you open it for others. We love the concept!

    Changes in my job lead us to move to a different part of our town. After the move my wife saw a building that left her wondering if this was an opportunity to do something awesome in our area. We started digging and it turned out the building owners were friends of ours who were also searching for someone to do something special in the space. Well, stars started aligning at that point and it’s hard to turn away when they do. Between the amazing building owners, changes in the season of life and my growing love for the industry, we decided we were all in! Opening a coffee shop was in our future.

    How did you find Seattle Coffee Gear?

    The first time I heard about Seattle Coffee Gear was through watching their product review videos for commercial espresso machine reviews. We were interested in specific features, but not a specific model and wanted to learn more about the best machine for our shop. The videos were such a useful resource in making our choice!

    What’s the thing you’re most excited about in terms of building out the shop?

    It would be seeing all the disjointed planning efforts coming together into something real and tangible. The dream comes to life slowly in these small step-by-step iterations. Seeing your invested time, research and decision making finally come to fruition is the sweet reward. You are finally purchasing equipment, choosing furniture color, printing branding on merchandise, and engaging with customers on social media. As exciting as it is to decide on building the shop, it pales watching it become a breathing entity.

    What do you think the biggest challenge will be?

    While we are excited to share the coffee shop with the community, we wonder if the community will be as excited to see the coffee shop come to them. Success can be measured in so many different ways and you hope one of the ways leads to the business sustaining itself. Most business start slow and enduring until you see success will probably be our biggest challenge. No one buys into your vision like you, but if you do something great it is worth the fight. Our inclination is that the community will adopt us, but it still falls into the great unknown until the doors to the coffee shop are open.

    What’s your favorite way to brew/drink coffee?

    My favorite brew method goes back to how I got started with specialty coffee and that’s with a simple ChemEx and burr grinder. I drink my coffee barefoot (aka black). My wife’s favorite brew method is to ask me to make it for her lol. We have a local grocery store who has a good coffee selection and each week we pick up a different roaster or origin. Keeping the brew method the same and changing the beans makes it easier to pick up on all the fun differences in flavor.

     We'll have so much more to share from Piecewise Coffee Co. coming soon!

  • Coffee Culture Around the World: China

    You might think that Chinese consumers would only ever want tea. The country is known for producing and consuming this herbal beverage, but coffee is growing in popularity as well. Join us as we take a look at China's burgeoning coffee culture in another installment of Coffee Culture Around the World!

    The Land of Tea

    As mentioned above, the main source of caffeine for most in China is tea. This makes sense, tea is produced en masse in China, and it's very affordable. In many cases, imported coffee is very expensive, and China's roasting industry is practically non-existent. Instead of specialty coffee like you might be used to, most Chinese consumers drink instant. This means that our favorite brewed beverage isn't really consumed to enjoy, so much as for the caffeine. Perhaps most interestingly, China does actually produce a fair amount of green coffee.

    Almost all of the coffee grown in China is arabica. This green coffee is usually shipped to roasters in Germany, because its quality isn't high enough to go to craft roasters. It's also too high quality to be consumed locally, which has hurt coffee's prominence in the country. Just over the border is Vietnam, which produces most of the instant coffee that the Chinese people drink. This coffee is usually made with robusta beans, which are most prevalent in Vietnam. This has led to coffee's aforementioned status as a utilitarian drink.

    Western Influence

    China's interest in coffee has grown considerably over the last couple of decades. As major coffee brands continue to seek entry into this massive market, young people in China are also voting with their wallets. Many millennials see coffee and other Western products as a status symbol. Drinking coffee may be more expensive than tea, but it's also a symbol of one's position. This increase in demand has led to a more active roaster scene in the country as well. Instead of just enjoying instant coffee at home, young people in China are seeking coffee shops and cafés to try out new roasts.

    In this way, large, corporate coffee producers are actually driving a smaller, more innovative roasting scene. This tracks with the arc of coffee popularity in neighboring Japan as well. It's an exciting new frontier for coffee that will hopefully breed innovation in the West as well!

    Thanks for joining us for this look into coffee culture in yet another interesting locale. Remember to make coffee you love!

     

  • Coffee Culture Around the World: The French Café

    Hey there, and welcome to another entry in our Coffee Culture Around the World series!

    Distinct Places, Distinct Tastes

    One of the most distinctive parts of a place's coffee culture is its cafés. In many places, the gathering place the people visit to drink coffee shapes the way it is consumed regardless of venue. This week, we're going to take a look at how Café culture has evolved in one of the most coffee centric countries on Earth, France!

    French Café's differ depending on where you go in the country. France breaks its regions into 5, based on climate and culture. As such, visiting a café in Paris (Central France) is very different than visiting a café in Cannes (Southern France). One thing does unite these regions however, and that is a love of coffee. We'll focus on the quintessential Parisian café experience for this piece, but we'll definitely be revisiting this diverse country in later entries!

    The Parisian Experience

    As in any major city, life in Paris can move fast. In France, however, food and drink are of paramount importance. It's a standard Parisian pastime to sit outside of a café and people watch for hours. In the past, café coffee was frequently mixed with chicory, as it was easier to grow and maintain. Nowadays, chicory is an acquired taste, but the culture persists.

    Nearly as important to the experience as the coffee is a pastry to go with it. It is rare to stop at a café and not have a croissant or other pastry with your cup of coffee. But there's more than food and drink to be had at a Parisian café. These places are hubs of activity for their neighborhoods. Café serve as meeting places and conversation centers for people. They also serve as culinary centers, usually offering a full menu alongside coffee and pastries. Finally, sitting outdoors in a Parisian Café is a must, for it offers a view of the world.

    A Piece of History

    The oldest Café in Paris is Café Procope in rue de l'Ancienne Comédie. Le Procope opened in 1686, and is still in operation today. It was one of the first businesses to align with revolutionaries, and was a regular hangout of folks like Voltaire, Ben Franklin, and John Paul Jones. Post revolution it became a meeting place for intellectuals from all over the world. It still serves high class food and drink to this day!

    As you can see, Parisian café culture has meant a lot to the city over its history. From people watching to revolutions, the French café is about far more than coffee!

     

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