The Construction Of Taste Communities In Europe

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This article is about The Construction Of Taste Communities In Europe.

In Europe, these developments started somewhat later. Shop roasting started gaining traction among grocers in the 1890s, but stand-alone businesses largely operated at a local or regional level. The First World War did much to popularize coffee as rations and grinders were issued to the troops, but much of the demand was still frequently met through the use of substitutes. According to Ukers:

In Europe chicory is not regarded as an adulterantdit is an addition, or modifier, if you please. And so many people have acquired a coffee-and-chicory taste, that it is doubtful if they would appreciate a real cup of coffee should they ever meet it. Ukers (1935, p. 554)

In Germany, which witnessed one of the largest growth in consumption in In the early 20th century, two consumption rituals percolated through the classes. The first was the tradition of a family get-together over coffee and cake on a Sunday afternoon. This would often be when the “real”, as opposed to surrogate coffee, was produced. During the summer this took on the form of a stroll to coffee gardens sited in public parks. In some such gardens, hot water was for sale, enabling patrons to save money by brewing up the coffee they bought with them (Ukers, 1935, p. 556).

The second was what has become referred to as the kaffeeklatsch: essentially a gathering of women, either in or out of the home, for a chat over afternoon coffee and cake. Men, of course, were more likely to socialize over beer consumed in the Kneipe or pub. When hosted outside the home, the kaffeeklatsch would often be held at the monitored, i.e., the pastry shop a practice whose legacy can today be found in the continuing dominance of the bakery sector as the largest component of the German out-of-home coffee market (Zeitemann, 2013).


The Construction of Taste Communities in The Nordic Countries in Europe

Coffee has also established a strong association with the female realm in the Nordic countries. The terms jordemoderkaffe (midwives coffee, i.e., very strong coffee), barselskaffe (coffee served to visitors to a woman who has recently given birth), and kaffesster (a coffee sister, a lady who drinks a lot of coffee) have made their way into Danish. Similarly, kaffemoster (coffee aunt) was a Swedish term for a woman who enjoyed coffee, whereas the fika concept emerged in the late nineteenth century, with people taking a relaxing break from their daily activities to share coffee and cake with family, friends, or coworkers (Kjeldgaard et al., 2011).

By the 1930s, coffee consumption per capita in Denmark and Sweden had surpassed that of the United States, while it was not far behind in the former Swedish possessions of Norway and Finland. The biggest reason, perhaps, was that coffee was a warming beverage that could be used to battle the cold while also increasing energy levels, both of which were important for many people’s outside job in the cold. The powerful temperance movement, closely related to the church, which advocated coffee as an alternative to alcohol, facilitated the spread of coffee throughout the classes, according to literary studies. In contrast with Britain, it was tea that became a refined beverage in the Nordic countries, with consumption largely restricted to the bourgeoisie (Lundqvist, 2016).

Anthropologists’ observations of Sami reindeer herders in Finland during the 1950s are suggestive of the reasons why Scandinavians came to drink so much coffee (Whitaker, 1970). The men would have two cups of coffee in the morning after getting up and before going out to tend to the herd. When the women who remained in the tents heard the barking of the dogs announcing the men’s return, they would immediately begin to prepare coffee to be ready for their arrival another two cups. A meal followed with two cups of coffee to wash it down. A second meal taken later would be accompanied by another four cups two before, two after, and at some point a snack, alongside another two cups, bringing the total up to 12. In the summer, when conditions allowed, and the men could remain outside longer, they also brewed coffee while at work.

These routine forms of consumption were augmented by the ritual practices of hospitality that were also constructed around coffee drinking. Coffee drinking was used as a way of constituting social ties within herding units that relied on cooperative working and consensus. Visitors to a tent would automatically be offered two cups of coffee, and a meal or snack to follow. Although they might refuse the food, they could not refuse the coffee, and only once it had been prepared, would they be invited to move from the edge to the center of the tent. Guests would always be made fresh coffee, even if a previously brewed pot was still by the fireside. Hospitality rituals could easily push consumption to 20 cups a day. Although coffee was still rationed during the 1950s, and the herding groups might be traveling for 7 months at a time, observers never saw them run short of coffee, such was its importance to the cohesion of the community.

Even in urban areas, the working day became ordered and monitored around coffee schedules. “Morning coffee,” “prenoon coffee,” “afternoon coffee,” and “evening coffee” were all phrases used by the Danish, and each was consumed at a specific time (6:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m.). The legislation in Finland that introduced two daily work breaks simply referred to them as “coffee breaks” (Kjeldgaard and Ostberg, 2007).

The style of coffee was shaped by the contexts in which it was drunk. Light roasts predominate in Scandinavia, particularly in Finland, which now has the highest per capita consumption of coffee in the world (Ojaniemi, 2010). One reason for this may be that up until the 1920s most coffee was still bought green and roasted at home, and it may have been believed that light roasting resulted in less wastage of both the bean and energy. Brewed directly in the coffee kettle, it was largely served black, unsurprising given the absence of dairy industry in most of the northern regions indeed among the Sami, milk was ever added, it took the form of dried reindeer milk, although a more common Swedish addition was cheese. Coffee’s more functional properties were hinted at by the ways it was consumed men often drink quickly from the saucer, whereas women in private might suck it through a sugar lump held in the lips to add sweetness and succor.

When industrial roasters appeared, they wanted to be associated with this light coffee style as one that expressed a national identity. Paulig, a major Finnish roaster, began using young women to become the incarnation of the Paula girl, a young woman dressed in national costume pouring coffee from a kettle, on its packaging as early as 1904, and in the 1950s began selecting young women to become the Paula girl, promoting the brand through public appearances (Paulig Company History, 2016). This symbolic transition in coffee’s identity from exotic to domestic, even to the point of becoming an icon of national identity, was replicated across Europe as coffee became part of everyday life, despite the fact that habits and tastes varied greatly from region to region.

A significant contributory factor to the development of such distinctions was the replanting of colonial coffee estates in Asia with Robusta coffee(native to Central Africa) following the devastating coffee rust epidemic of the late 19th century. The Dutch authorities began replanting in Java and Sumatra in the 1900s, and already during the First World War, the consumption of470 The Craft and Science of CoffeeRobusta had outstripped that of Arabica in the Netherlands, aided no doubt by the fact that darker roasts were already used for Java and Sumatran Arabicas(Prendergast, 2010, p. 141). Meanwhile, French and Belgian administrations were likewise encouraging Robusta cultivation in their African colonies, with most of the output making its way into the blends drunk at the metropole. It was estimated that at least a third of the coffee imported into France in 1938was Robusta, but it was really in the postwar era that these portions rose dramatically: in 1960, 75% of all the coffee consumed in France was Robusta, requiring a “French roast,” i.e., a high roast, to counteract the bitterness through caramelization. Yet the point was that Robusta made the mass consumption of coffee possible Portugal, for example, notably increased its own per capita consumption based on one of its imports from Angola, when it was still a Portuguese possession.

In Southern Europea

However, the most distinct southern European coffee culture to emerge was that of Italy, where the evolution of espresso led to the emergence of various consumption cultures both inside and outside the home (Morris, 2010). In contrast to the bulk-brew urns traditionally used in catering facilities, the La Pavoni Ideale of 1905 was the first so-called espresso machine to enter production, using pressure brewing to speed up coffee delivery and enable a fresh cup of coffee to be produced “expressly” for each customer. The delivery time was still around 50 seconds, and the pressures employed were around 1.5e3 bars, resulting in a concentrated form of a drip-brewed coffee (Morris, 2013a).

Coffee in Italy remained very much an elite beverage, and the machines were installed in upmarket establishments, notably the new “American bars” in which cocktails were consumed standing at the counter (Fig. 19.3). The steam wands attached to the side of the machines were used to warm up alcoholic punches, as well as milk for the coffee if required. As techniques for this developed, we can see that the cappuccino initially a term for a small white coffee was transformed into a beverage assembled at the bar with an espresso base topped with steamed milk. Conversely, the coffee latte was a popular breakfast drink in the homes of the working classes, but this mixture of milk and bread, warmed in a pan, frequently contained little or no coffee, with branded surrogates made from grains such as orzo used to add flavor (Morris, 2013b).

In 1948 Achille Gaggia introduced the lever machine that utilized a manually operated spring-loaded piston to blast the water through the coffee under around 9 bars of pressure. The resultant extract had ahead of essential oils from the coffee on top of it, what we today refer to as crema. Indeed, Gaggia promoted this as an entirely new beverage, giving it the name of CremaCaffe`dcream coffee (Fig. 19.4). Even more than before, therefore, there was a significant difference between coffee available at the bar and coffee brewed at home.

The so-called “economic miracle” that occurred in Italy during the 1950s and 1960s, when the industrial, manufactured economy overcame the agrarian one, resulting in enormous internal migrations from the countryside to the city, gave rise to modern Italian coffee culture. New neighborhoods sprang up, but high housing densities left many migrants with insufficient living space, let alone enough to mingle in. All of this contributed to a quick increase in the number of neighborhood coffee shops that serve a variety of coffee, snacks, and alcoholic beverages in order to provide such a service.

Bars were a place to grab coffee before work, but equally the site for coffee breaks during the day, as well as a postprandial digestive espresso. That the coffee was both quickly prepared and swiftly drunk facilitated this, as did the service and pricing models. From 1911 onwards, municipal authorities had enjoyed the facility to establish a maximum price for “a cup of coffee without service” interpret as meaning drunk while standing at the bar, as in the American bars of the period. The price was deliberately set low to counter inflationary tendencies in the standard of living. The result was the standing culture of consumption still seen today.

The so-called “economic miracle” that occurred in Italy during the 1950s and 1960s, when the industrial, manufactured economy triumphed over the agrarian economy, resulting in massive internal migrations from the countryside to the city, gave birth to modern Italian coffee culture. New neighborhoods arose, but high housing densities left many migrants without adequate living space, let alone enough to interact in. To provide such a service, a rapid expansion in the number of neighborhood coffee shops serving a variety of coffee, pastries, and alcoholic beverages was a result of all of this.

One element in that success that is often overlooked is that the espresso process economizes on cost while delivering character. It requires relatively small doses of coffee per cup and its intensification of flavors means that cheaper commodity beans can be used to form significant portions of the blend, assisting in the creation of body and balance. This includes substantial elements of Robusta, which has led bonus of producing a more developed, visually attractive crema. Robusta heavy blends proved particularly popular in the South, where sugar was often placed in the cup before delivery: indeed national roasters were obliged to alter their blends to appeal to southern tastes.

Due to the poor margins put on operators by the maximum price laws, larger roasters did not seek to enter the out-of-home market directly. As a result, coffee shop chains have yet to emerge in Italy, and the industry is still dominated by individual operators who rely on low-wage, flexible family labor to make ends meet. In exchange for agreeing to an exclusive coffee supply contract, they rely significantly on their local small roaster for start-up money, machines, and other necessities. Many say that this incentivizes roasters to offer low-quality mixes in order to offset their costs. According to recent research, Italians are largely uninformed of the brand of coffee served at their local coffee shop, despite their extremely distinct coffee culture. Most current consumers do not consider themselves capable of making informed value judgments about coffee (Borghi, 2015).

This isn’t quite as startling as it appears. Coffee became a basic everyday item whose form and substance were relatively unconsidered as long as it corresponded to expectations thanks to common coffee practices that arose among taste communities in Europe during the industrial era. The execution of the routines and rituals that surrounded coffee gave it meaning as a mundane sort of national identity. Rather than splitting the classes, this spanned them. In the industrial era, a request for “just a coffee” meant very different things to Americans, Scandinavians, and Italians, but it was well known enough within each society to require no further explanation.

More: The Making of the American “Cup of Joe”


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