Coffee culture in the USA

It wasn’t until I moved to the US that I started drinking coffee regularly and became what the Netherlands call “koffieleut”, which literally translates to “coffee socialite.” Although the average European drinks more coffee a year than the average American, cultural significance and its impact on the average European seems to me less than on the average American. After all, coffee is a cultural obsession in the United States.

Chains with thousands of outlets such as Dunkin ‘Donuts or Starbucks dominate everyday street life in the United States. Especially in the morning (90% of coffee consumed in the US occurs in the morning hours), millions of white foaming cups with bright pink and orange logos zip through the streets during morning rush hour and on the train. Coffee factories are a lifesaver for a hurrying army of construction workers wearing helmets and tattoos. During their lunch break, men and women in sophisticated business suits dive into coffee shops.

Students relax from noon to late evening on the comfy sofas in on-campus coffee shops. Police officers squeeze cups of coffee while guarding road construction works on the highway. In short, coffee lovers in the United States can be found anywhere.

This massive psychotic ritual makes Americans associate Europe primarily with cars that, oddly enough, do not contain cup holders (for an American, it’s like selling a car without tires) or incredibly small cups of coffee served in European restaurants, so small that my father-in-law always had to order two cups of coffee. I am deeply convinced that the huge cups of coffee they consume can be blamed for the easily agitated and obsessive nature of the New England people. No wonder the word “coffee” comes from the Arabic “qahwa”, meaning “that interferes with sleep.” Arabs brewed coffee beans in boiling water as early as the 9th century and drank the stimulating extract as an alternative to alcohol banned by Muslims.

Coffee is second only to oil these days as the most valuable (legally) traded commodity in the world, with a total trade value of $ 70 billion. Interestingly, coffee producing countries only reach $ 6 billion. The remaining $ 64 billion is created in the countries of consumption in the form of surplus value. Smallholders grow 70% of the world’s coffee production. They mainly grow two types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta. About 20 million people in the world are directly dependent on the production of coffee.

Table 1: Production in 2002/3

country% 70% Arabica

30% reliability

Brazil 42.03% Arabic / Rob

Colombia 8.88% Arabica

Vietnam 8.35% Robusta

Indonesia 4.89% Rob / Arab

India 3.74% Arabs / robbers

Mexico 3.54% Arabica

Guatemala 3.1% Arabs / robbers

Uganda 2.53% Rob / Arab

Ethiopia 2.44% Arabica

Peru 2.24% Arabica

Table 2: Consumption in 2001/2 world consumption,% kg per capita (2001)

USA 30.82% Finland 11.01

Germany 15.07% Sweden 8.55

Japan 11.47% Denmark 9.71

France 8.89% Norway 9.46

Italy 8.59% Austria 7.79

Spain 4.90% Germany 6.90

United Kingdom 3.63% Switzerland 6.80

Netherlands 2.69% Netherlands 6.48

Although per capita coffee consumption in the world is declining (in the United States alone, it fell from 0.711 liters in 1960 to 0.237 liters today), world consumption is still growing due to the population explosion. Given that coffee is composed of 1% (Arabica), 2% (Robusta), or 4.5-5.1% (instant coffee) caffeine, the average American consumes between 200 and 300 mg (the recommended maximum daily amount) of caffeine per day in all day long. consumption of coffee only.

I often visit for a cup of coffee – this is Starbucks in Stamford, Connecticut. The entrance is at the corner of Broad Streets and Summer Streets, to the left of the main public library with a simple pediment and slender Ionic columns. The location next to the library is in line with Starbuck’s marketing plan. At the entrance to the coffee shop, a life-size glass window curves to the left, providing a magnificent voyeur view of pedestrians on the sidewalk. As you enter, you find yourself directly in a living room with bookshelves against the back wall. The velvet armchairs are opposite each other with small coffee tables in the middle, creating intimate seating areas. Velvet window chairs are the best seats people are out of luck for if they pick up a wooden chair. At the back of the long, rectangular room is a café bar and a small Starbuck’s gift shop. Laptops and tables can be spread out at a dark wooden table with electrical outlets, separating the living room from the coffee shop.

Since I have been moody for several weeks, I hesitate to order regular black coffee. In the US, it is very easy to get enough of your favorite food or drink due to the huge portions. The smallest coffee cup is tall (12 oz = 0.35 L), after which you can choose between Grande (16 oz = 0.5 L) and Vent (20 oz = 0.6 L). ). Half a liter of coffee seems excessive, and to my European mind it sounds absolutely absurd. In the end, I chose the “solo” espresso.

Sitting on one of the booth-like seats against the back wall, unable to take first place, I pretend to read my book, eavesdropping on conversations around me. Three middle-aged men sit on three ash-gray velvet chairs, talking loudly. A vivid dialogue arises, followed by a half-revolt, half-screech, and laughter. They taunt a colleague in his absence, and then curl their brows in concern as they discuss the teeth of one of the men’s daughter. Two African American women sit at a small table in front of a reading table in dark light, one of them wearing a yellow shawl with black African motifs. At the entrance to the recreation area, next to a lively conversation, a tramp plays solitaire. One by one, he places the crumpled cards with rounded edges on top of one another, as if trying to glue them together. He gave a couple of dollars in exchange for a cup of coffee to feel the nostalgia for a cozy living room in the warmth of the living room and to experience the feeling of being close to his own home.

It’s a bright, sunny, early fall day, a typical New England Indian summer. Sunbeams radiate through the coloring, shimmering foliage and cast a puzzle-shaped shadow over Starbuck’s window. Autumn’s Hand rotates its colored kaleidoscopic lens. The green ash tree on the sidewalk with its polychrome flowers resembles a bronze statue: the stem is sulfur-bronze, the foliage is sometimes copper-green, sometimes golden-nitrate. On the other side of the cross, the top of a young red oak tree turns fiery red. These are the impressions of the overgrown fall foliage for which Connecticut is “world famous” in the United States.

In the world of marketing and entrepreneurship, Starbucks is a success story. This is one of those stories of “excellence” taught in business school as an example. Founded in 1971, it truly began its incredible growth under Howard Schultz in 1985 and currently has 6294 cafes. But what exactly is its success? A large cup of coffee at Starbucks is much more expensive than at Dunkin ‘Donuts: $ 2.69 versus $ 3.40 a vent at Starbucks. But while Dunkin ‘Donuts only offers a limited range of flavors like mocha, hazelnut, vanilla, caramel and cinnamon, you’ll find exotic quality beans at Starbucks like Bella Vista FW Tres Rios Costa Rica, Brazil Ipanema Bourbon Mellow. Colombia Nariño Supremo, Organic Shade Grown Mexico, Panama la Florentina, Arabian Mocha Java, Caffè Verona, Guatemala Antigua Elegant, New Guinea Peaberry, Zimbabwe, Aged Sumatra, Special Reserve Estate 2003 – Sumatra Lintong Lake Tawar, Italian Roast, Kenya , Ethiopia Harrar, Ethiopia Sidamo, Ethiopia Sidamo, Ethiopia Ergacheff and French fries. So Starbucks offers luxury coffee and high quality coffee, almost reminiscent of the posh coffee shops I visited in Vienna.

From time to time I smile shyly and remember my endless hesitation, choosing between the two types of coffee available in most Dutch stores: red and gold. Even to this day, I have no idea what the difference is between the two other than the color of the packaging: red or gold. Unsurprisingly, Starbucks is reaching out to people in the laptop genre: consultants, students, intellectuals, the middle class, and Starbucks coffee is white collar coffee, and Dunkin ‘Donuts coffee is workers’ coffee. At Dunkin ‘Donuts, you’ll meet Joe the plumber, Bob the barber, and Mac the truck driver. But what exactly attracts white collar workers in the US to fall back into purple velvet chairs again?

I envision their workdays filled with repetitive actions and decisions on the playing field with clearly defined responsibilities. How many players in these areas spend the day with its routine, simply for the simple reason that they can enjoy their daily 30-minute escape into the intimate Starbucks setting, where for a short moment a day you restore the illusion of human warmth and exotic associations with the cold of high finance?

For 15 minutes you again fall into the deep, soft cushion of a velvet chair and randomly, and, alas, how important this moment of complete randomness is, you take a book off the shelves. While in the background, calming tones sound like country blues with its acknowledgment of deep human suffering, a folk outbreak associated with nature and tradition, or a merengue that revives passionate memories of adventure and love, you look at the surrounding countryside. windows and contemplate this simple, shifting reflection in the moment, amplified by the physical effects of half a liter of watery coffee that kicks in and the pleasure of chewing on a bun, bagel, cake, brownie, croissant, or donut.

It is primarily a bodily ecstasy caused by a combination of caffeine, sugar and salivation. You remember the struggling musician behind the counter taking your order, the amateur poet when you pay her for coffee and tip her full, feeling transcendental affection in your escape from reality. With a frozen throb from the first sips of coffee, you look at the advertisements and poems on the bulletin board and carelessly think: they are right, they are so right! what do I care? Why should I be worried?

But then you look at your watch and notice that you really need to run again. “Well, it’s a pity, it’s time to go!” And as you open the door, the autumn breeze blows in your face, the last tunes of the blues solo fade away as Hammond’s organ whispers, “I’m throwing my troubles out the door, I don’t need them anymore.”

Coffee in the United States is a subculture that has surfaced en masse in consumer society. Starbucks is more than coffee, it is more than just another brand on the market, it is a socio-political statement, a way of thinking about how you would like to live, in other words, it is culture. Starbucks is a Coca-Cola alternative and much more than just coffee: it’s chocolates, ice cream, frappuccino, travel mugs with exotic prints, cups and live music, CDs, discounts at trade shows, and even volunteer support.

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