Coffee in Europe: each country has its own espresso

From Naples to the North Pole: 10 interesting facts about coffee in Europe.

For the Italians, an espresso coffee is a morning ritual for starting the day, whereas in the North Pole, it is an evening drink to keep the cold away. Times and latitudes aside, throughout Europe coffee drinking is an essential ritual.

Here are 10 interesting facts about how to make it and enjoy it in Europe.

Russia – Vodka, a myth to be dispelled

Coffee fortified with vodka? Not at all! In large cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, the most popular types of espresso coffee are with vanilla or cognac. The inhabitants of Siberia, on the other hand, make it at home with pine nuts, honey and hazelnuts.

Turkey – A ritual that has become an art

”Turk Kahvesi” is strongly rooted in local traditions: in 2013, it was included on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list for the ritual with which coffee beans are prepared, ground and boiled in a “cezve”, a traditional copper or brass pot.

Greece – The importance of being… patient

In the film Mediterraneo by Gabriele Salvatores, the nostalgic soldier Noventa (Claudio Bisio) is annoyed because he has to wait several minutes to drink a Greek coffee, which is “like drinking sand”. Sergeant Lo Russo (Diego Abatantuono), however, says that it is delicious: you just have to know how to wait for the dregs to settle at the bottom of the cup. Greek coffee: you need to be patient but you are never disappointed with what you get.

Italy – Coffee that extends your life

In Italy, espresso reigns, the most famous and popular coffee in the world: it should be sipped quickly standing up at a bar counter. It stands out for its unmistakeable characteristics: the smooth, dense and creamy layer on the top and its body and taste. Someone once said that coffee should be available on the national health…

France – Coffee and madeleines, je t’aime à la française

“Café au lait”, the equivalent of coffee with milk, is a ritual at breakfast tables in France. It should be only be drunk with a tasty croissant or a madeleine, a shell-shaped cake made of a light, delicate and soft mixture, with distinct hints of butter and lemon.

Portugal – Espresso, lemon, mint and rum

In Lisbon, in the heat of the Bairro Alto, hot drinks are not among the most popular (to put it mildly). That’s why mazagran, a cold sweet coffee of Algerian origin that the Portuguese fortify with lemon, mint and rum, is so widely popular.

Austria – A return to tradition

In Vienna – held to be the home of coffee in Europe – you cannot enter a bar and hurriedly order a coffee at the counter. You should enjoy it with a slice of cake while sitting at a table and reading a newspaper. As if you were at home in your own living room.

Germany – The legendary origin of the Pharisaer

The “Pharisäer”, from the island of Nordstrand, is a long coffee fortified with rum with a layer of cream on the top. The recipe dates back to the19th century, when the German Frisians, to overcome the ban on alcohol, “hid” it in their coffee. It is said that on discovering this deception, the Protestant shepherd of the island cried out to his fellow citizens, “Pharisees!”- referring to the famous biblical story.

Norway – Extravagant egg coffee

This special preparation comprising ground coffee, boiling water and egg comes from Norway, one of the countries with the highest consumption of coffee per capita. The shell is also used: calcium bicarbonate eliminates the acidity of coffee, giving the drink an embracing taste and a lighter colour.

Greenland – The Arctic flambé espresso!

A blend of coffee, whiskey, cream, Grand Marnier, Kahlúa and… fire. It is Greenlandic Coffee: it should be sipped flambéed, in a red wine glass after dinner. A strong hot drink, ideal for keeping the Arctic cold away. This new coffee trend is going viral on social networks.



The different traditions all share a genuine passion for coffee, a symbol of hospitality, conviviality and good omen. At all latitudes, coffee reflects the time, the society and the lifestyle. It accompanies us at so many different times that choosing quality coffee, to suit the situation, is always a must!

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