Espresso vs. Coffee in Europe
If you live in America, it is simple to distinguish coffee from espresso. Just observe how and where they are being served. If you see lots of little cups and white linens, think espresso. Any place with a sign showing a mug with “Bottomless Cup $1.99” printed on it indicates that this is the place for coffee.
Europe is a different market-for many reasons-but most significant are location and culture. So many cultures are packed into an area; the culture of coffee and espresso differs greatly from the Scandinavian countries to its southern counterparts such as Italy and Spain.
Who Likes What?
- In Northern Europe, Scandinavia in particular, you are more likely to find drip coffee as opposed to espresso. Its just tradition.
- In Sweden, “fika” is coffee with pastries or small sandwiches, but Swedes are very proud of their coffee and tend to drink it black, so kanelbulle (cinnamon buns) are a popular choice for dipping into a strong cup of coffee.
- Coffee culture in Sweden is important. While it is considered a casual experience or break from work for those at a coffee shop, being invited to fika means people like you enough to open their home to you for afternoon coffee and cakes, as long as you remember to take off your shoes!
Part of the charm associated with coffee culture in Scandinavia is how it is still a tradition that global enterprises, namely Starbucks, are yet to exploit. (Not entirely true, as Copenhagen’s Kastrup Airport has two terminals featuring Starbucks.) The lingering presence of McDonald’s in Northern Europe and its goal to re-brand the golden arches, as McCafe is also an alarming trend, however, there is a reason why large brands have invested such a significant amount of time, money, and energy into
So, What About Espresso?
The further south you travel in Europe, the smaller your coffee gets, such that it becomes what is known as espresso.
- TRUE espressos are to be found, as expected, in Italy. Just like their northern counterparts with a preference for coffee, Italians weave espresso into their culture by making it a fixture of daily social life in the same settings.
- The same holds true in countries like Spain, where around breakfast time to through siesta, you can find young and old enjoying a mixture similar to espresso and is typically referred to as cafe con leche.
It doesn’t matter if you live in Europe or on any other continent-people enjoy coffee as well as espresso. A cup of coffee or espresso is the focal point for many social gatherings and has been for a long time. People throughout the world are drawn to cafes and coffee shops for the quality of the product they are paying for, as well as the atmosphere.
It’s tough to beat the atmosphere of a true cafe or coffee shop, but being able to create the same quality espresso doesn’t have to be.