powered by Holland at Home
Drinking coffee is ingrained into the Dutch psyche. Most Dutch simply cannot imagine starting the day without a cup of freshly brewed coffee, and coffee has an incredibly important social significance, both at home and in the work place.
In fact, the Dutch love affair with coffee could be compared to the British obsession for tea. If you visit someone in the Netherlands, you’ll almost certainly be welcomed with a cup of coffee and if you work in Holland, you’ll soon learn that the coffee break is an integral part of the working day. The Netherlands is one of the most prolific coffee-drinking nations in the world, with an average of 3.2 cups of the stuff being drunk per person, per day (Source: CBS, 2006), placing the country second only to Scandinavia. A cup of tea (usually taken without milk) is a popular alternative, but with just under 2 cups being drunk per person, per day, it’s definitely second choice in the Netherlands.
The Dutch predominantly enjoy their coffee at home. Up until about ten years ago, the preferred type was filter coffee, but since the advent of the Senseo coffee maker, many have switched to the convenience of coffee pads. The Senseo has revolutionised the Dutch coffee ritual, as instead of the communal pot that the entire family could share, nowadays every cup can be individually prepared. This means that everyone gets to enjoy a deliciously fresh cup of coffee, just when they fancy it, although fewer coffee breaks are spent together as a result.
Unlike the US and countries in southern Europe, only 30% of Dutch people drink coffee outside of the home. However, the popularity of trendy coffee bars and coffee chains has grown rapidly in recent years, especially in large towns and cities. Once at a favourite café, the Dutch love to indulge in a ‘koffie verkeerd’ (literally ‘wrong coffee’ and similar to a latte), cappuccino or espresso.
At work, the Dutch reluctantly make do with the communal coffee machine, even though the coffee it produces is generally considered of poor quality. That the Dutch are so critical of their coffee could in part be attributed to the unmitigated success of the Senseo, which has placed an increasing emphasis on the absolute ‘freshness’ of coffee. These days Dutch companies with a generous staff budget install ever more sophisticated machines that can grind real coffee beans, to motivate their employees with a superior cuppa.
One of the most famous Dutch coffee brands is Douwe Egberts, who also promote a comprehensive range of Senseo coffee pads. And the Dutch appear to be a morally responsible bunch, as many favour drinking Fairtrade coffee. Indeed, in 2010 Oxfam reported that 45% of all coffee sold in the Netherlands is of the sustainable variety. The Netherlands is proving to be a world leader on this highly topical issue, as the international average is just 8%. This commendable percentage is even expected to increase to 75% by 2015, so it’s evident that the Dutch prefer not only a delicious, but also an ‘ethical’ cup of coffee!