Why Do Rich Countries Drink So Much Coffee? (Interesting Facts)

Last Updated on August 18, 2023 by Barry Gray

I’m sure most people are aware of the popularity of coffee. After all, we are familiar with names such as Starbucks, Nespresso, Espresso, and so many other terms.

But have you ever stopped to think about why rich countries, in particular, love to drink so much coffee? It’s a question I have been pondering lately, so I felt I had to dive in and do some research to satisfy my curiosity.

Rich countries typically consume so much coffee thanks to how readily available it is. Europe is the real hotspot for coffee consumption. At the same time, the United States is responsible for importing the most coffee in the world. Coffee has gained a prominent position in both the economy and culture, with it now forming an integral part of our society.

Yet I know I need to tell you more to answer this question than simply saying it’s because we can buy it so easily. That’s pretty obvious, but when you go deeper into the reasons why coffee is so popular, it becomes pretty interesting.

To help, let me take you through each individual reason why coffee plays such an important role in our lives.

why do rich countries drink so much coffee

The Abundance of Coffee Shops

Rich countries have more coffee shops. They range in size from chains such as Starbucks to hipster joints that focus on a particular brewing method or beans from a specific part of the world.

Even in my small town, I can think of a spot where three coffee shops are within less than 100m of each other. Two are on opposite corners of a road, while the third faces the other two coffee shops. 

Those coffee shops have been there for years, yet they all survive and thrive. This scene is replicated countless times in various countries around the world, so when something is so easy to get, then it’s obvious we will drink more coffee.

How Many Coffee Shops Exist?

This is pretty much an impossible question to answer but just look at the US as an example. 

It’s estimated the US has more than 38,000 coffee shops. That number is probably continually increasing even as I write this in the same way the debt figure for countries is constantly climbing.

But Europe also has tens of thousands of coffee shops and Espresso stalls. You cannot even get out of a train station without often running into more than one place to pick up an Americano or Latte.

The Coffee Culture

what is coffee shop culture

Another reason why rich countries drink so much coffee is due to the concept of “coffee culture,” and I’m sure that’s something most people reading this post will be familiar with.

Drinking coffee is viewed as very much a social thing. Friends getting together for a chat and a catch-up over a coffee is common, and the coffee shops in richer countries certainly try their best to create that ambiance.

But it’s not just social. Business is also conducted over coffee, and many deals have been made in the confines of a coffee shop. 

Yet coffee shops also seek to enhance the feeling that you can conduct business in their shop by adding things such as Wi-Fi that’s free to use and creating more of a relaxed atmosphere. It feels more laid back, and people now don’t even think twice about conducting business meetings in a coffee shop.

Pop Culture and Coffee

But it’s not only people getting together for a chat that has made coffee so popular in rich countries. It’s also now associated with different parts of the day, and the general consensus is that so many of us cannot get through the day without our caffeine hit.

Just think about how many movies you have watched where someone gets up in the morning and runs out the door to go to work, but only after grabbing a coffee.

How many times is drinking coffee referenced in a series on TV? Think of shows where a coffee shop would appear over and over again.

All of these references to coffee shops or drinking coffee manage to ramp up the desire to drink more coffee. The difference between rich and poor countries is we have the ability to go out and do something about our desire for coffee, whether it’s via a multitude of coffee makers at home or a coffee shop on every corner. 

Coffee Culture Differs in Various Parts of the World

coffee shop culture in the world

I feel this concept of the coffee culture is so important in explaining why coffee is loved so much in more affluent countries. But the coffee culture itself differs depending on where you are in the world.

Take Europe as a prime example. The coffee culture here in Europe is undoubtedly very relaxed. It’s slower and more laid-back.

In the US, it’s more fast-paced, and people get coffee on the go. This is in contrast to Europe, where it’s certainly more about sitting down and enjoying the experience while taking your time.

Who Drinks the Most Coffee?

As I was looking at why rich countries drink so much coffee, it made me realize that I had no idea which countries are seen as drinking the most coffee. Honestly, I was surprised at the results I came across.

If you had asked me which countries I thought would make my top 10, I guarantee that those countries that are really at the top would not have featured. 

I would have guessed the US, Italy, and probably Canada. I would have been so wrong.

So, which country comes top: Finland.

Yep, Finland is the country that drinks the most coffee in the world per head of population, and I bet nobody would have thought of that.

But then it gets even worse as Norway comes second, followed by Iceland and Denmark. It seems as if Scandinavia really digs its coffee.

Actually, the first country in the top 10 that’s not in Europe is Canada, and it only scrapes in at number 10. The US does even worse. It isn’t even in the top 20!

But Why Scandinavia?

I reckon you probably had the same question pop into your head as I did when I discovered the top four countries were all in Scandinavia: Why?

I think it’s because of a couple of reasons. 

First, Scandinavian countries do have long and harsh winters. The warmth a cup of coffee can bring you during those cold months makes a huge difference. It’s like a cuddle in a mug.

But Scandinavian countries also have a concept called Hygge. Note it may be called other things in different countries that form Scandinavia, but the concept remains the same.

Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian inspired approach to life with an emphasis on being cozy and comfortable. This is especially true during the winter when people ensure they are snug, have lights on to create a warm ambiance, enjoy time with their friends chatting, and generally relax.

A coffee is the perfect thing to accompany this. If you have ever been to Ikea, you may have even noticed something in the restaurant called “fika,” referring to coffee and a cake.

Fika is a Swedish idea where you should sit down at some point in the day and have a piece of cake with a nice cup of coffee and chat with friends. 

If you think about these approaches to life, you start to see why Scandinavian countries consume the most coffee in the world. 

What About the US?

I know most of you reading this would have thought the US would come in as number one for coffee consumption in the world, so discovering it’s in something like 25th place is a shock.

But keep in mind that the US imports the most coffee in the world, and the US is significantly larger in both area and population compared to those countries I mentioned earlier. So, more coffee is actually consumed daily in the US than anywhere else, but per head of population is where they fall behind.

Is it Because Rich Countries Can Afford Coffee?

rich countries can afford coffee

I admit my first thought was that rich countries drink so much coffee because they can afford it, and there’s no doubt that does play a role. However, I don’t see it as being the main reason.

For me, the main reasons are the number of coffee shops and also the culture surrounding coffee that has been established in different countries. 

So why do I feel affordability doesn’t play as significant a role? Clearly, it does make a difference, but coffee is primarily grown in generally poorer areas of the world before being exported.

That does push up the price we pay in various countries because of the journey it has to take to get there. It does then account for poorer countries that are not in the coffee-growing regions, seeing coffee as a bit more of a luxury compared to tea.

My Recap on Why Rich Countries Drink So Much Coffee

I’ve covered a few points, but a number of key things do stand out for me that I think you should try to remember.

  • Coffee shops are far more in abundance in rich countries compared to poor
  • It’s very easy to purchase coffee of various types in rich countries
  • The choice in rich countries is so varied it can become confusing
  • Coffee culture is a huge deal in various countries
  • Scandinavia is a hotspot for coffee consumption
  • Scandinavian countries have the concept of Hygge and fika, which includes coffee
  • The US imports the most coffee in the world
  • The US does drink most cups, but not per head of population

Overall, I feel there have been a few surprises, but not regarding the coffee culture aspect or the number of coffee shops. 

My Conclusion

Rich countries drink so much coffee simply because they can. The ease with which you can pick up a coffee always blows my mind. 

When you constantly have coffee being placed in front of you, thanks to the number of coffee shops, you will end up being tempted even when you were perhaps not entirely in the mood for a coffee.

But hey, I’m a coffee lover, so I don’t see any of this as a problem. I’m sure most of you reading this will agree.