America is the land of the driven. Everything we do is to push forward and keep moving — and coffee is the fuel that keeps many of us going. While people in the U.S. are standing in lines to have their names spelled wrong on a paper cup before work, other countries around the world are taking their time and absorbing the world and those around them. Here are a few alternative ways from around the world to drink your daily coffee.
Where: Germany, Austria
The Hobbits from “Lord of the Rings” aren’t the only ones that enjoy a second breakfast. Aside from being fun to say, Gabelfrühstück is a tradition in Germany and Austria that literally translates to “fork breakfast.” Their first meal of the day is typically a quick one and more like what is common in the U.S. — grab a piece of fruit and a quick cup of coffee, then off to work. Gabelfrühstück is a second breakfast that happens around 10 or 11 a.m. and is larger than the first breakfast. It is called “fork breakfast” because it is supposed to be large enough to have to eat with a fork and knife. This breaks up those tough mornings in the office and allows workers to unwind for a few minutes with a meal and some coffee.
Easily one of the most time-consuming coffee traditions on the list, Buna Tetu is a coffee ceremony practiced in Ethiopia. Unlike our coffee machines in America where we press a button and our cup of joe is ready in a few minutes, Ethiopian coffee can take up to three hours to prepare. The beans are washed, roasted, and ground before each ceremony, which takes place three times per day!
It is a time for people to come together to discuss life and enjoy each other’s company. To be invited to a Buna Tetu ceremony is a mark of friendship and respect. It is impolite to leave the table before everyone has consumed at least three cups of coffee.
In a world that seems to be pushing forward at an ever-quickening pace, fika is the Swedish coffee tradition that emphasizes downtime and relaxation. Several times per day, people stop what they are doing to enjoy a cup of coffee and a snack. Coffee shops throughout Sweden are designed to foster communication and relaxation. They are so serious about their coffee breaks that it is written into law. Employers must provide five minutes of break time, specifically for coffee and a snack, to employees for every hour worked.
Where: Latin America
Merienda is a tradition that is popular in parts of Latin America. Every afternoon between lunch and dinner, people will have a drink and a snack to help prevent the afternoon slump. While most people choose to enjoy a cup of coffee with their snack, some opt to have fruit smoothies or something cold when the weather gets hot. Children also enjoy merienda and get a snack in the middle of the afternoon. It is about taking some time for yourself and keeping your energy up.
Slow Down and Enjoy Life
Coffee is one of the most traded commodities in the world due to its importance in so many different cultures. Whether you are just trying to make it through work without falling asleep or participating in a Buna Tetu ceremony with your family, coffee plays an integral part in lives around the world. Maybe the next time you’re waiting in line at Starbucks for your venti Frappuccino, take a minute to reflect on your life or get to know the person standing next to you.