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From Kaldi to Cafes: The Fascinating Story of Coffee in the UK

Coffee The Origins and Spread

Coffee has been called one of the world’s favorite drinks, but where did it come from, and how did it become so popular? In this article, we will explore the origins and spread of coffee, and how it has become such a staple in the UK.

Debate over the Discovery of Coffee

There have been many claims and debates surrounding the discovery of coffee. However, according to historical records, the first cultivation of coffee began in the Arabian Peninsula in the 15th century.

It later spread throughout the Ottoman Empire, which fueled its popularity throughout the Middle East.

Ethiopia – The Birthplace of Coffee

The story of coffee’s origin is told through the tale of Kaldi, a goat herder in Ethiopia. Kaldi would observe his goats becoming restless and energetic after eating the berries from a nearby plant.

Curious, he tasted the berries himself and found that he, too, felt an energetic effect. From Ethiopia, coffee began to travel via the spice trade routes across the Arabian Peninsula and eventually spread throughout the world.

Coffee’s Popularity in the UK

Coffee’s popularity in the UK did not begin until the 17th century when coffeehouses began to open in cities like London and Oxford. These coffeehouses served as social hubs for people to gather, discuss various topics and exchange ideas.

In the early days, tea was the primary drink of the UK, but coffee’s popularity saw a significant increase during the 18th century. By the 19th century, coffee consumption in the UK was widespread, and its consumption remains popular to this day.

Coffee Drinking Habits in the UK

A recent survey revealed that over 70% of UK adults drink coffee, with the average person drinking two cups a day. However, the survey also found that people aged 16-24 drank more coffee, with almost half of the respondents saying that they consume at least one cup every day.

It is worth noting that coffee drinking habits in the UK have evolved with the times. For instance, iced coffee is increasingly becoming popular amongst UK coffee drinkers, especially during the summer months.

Pumpkin spice lattes, a seasonal favorite, is also gaining traction.


Coffee’s journey from Ethiopia to the rest of the world is a fascinating story that continues to evolve to this day. Its widespread popularity has also meant that it has become a ubiquitous part of our lives in the UK.

From social gatherings to our daily routine, coffee plays an integral role in our daily lives. Whether it’s to wake us up in the mornings or to keep us going throughout the day, coffee has become a staple in our diets and our culture.

Coffee in the UK

Coffee is no longer just a hot beverage but a worldwide sensation that has taken over the UK, where it has become a leading drink among Britons. The history of coffee in the UK is intriguing and offers a glimpse into the love affair that this country has developed with the drink.

Coffee’s Arrival in Europe

The earliest place for coffee drinking was the Middle East, which eventually found its way to Europe and subsequently the UK. Coffee beans were considered valuable despite the slow spread of the drink throughout Europe in the late 1500s.

The beans were expensive and transported in large quantities, primarily in Ottoman Turkey. Coffeehouses first emerged in Venice in 1629 and within the next fifty years across Europe.

By this time, coffee was enjoyed throughout the continent, from London to Paris.

Initial Denunciation and Papal Endorsement

Initially, coffee was met with some social pressure and suspicion, driven by the fear that it would make people restless and undisciplined. Pope Clement VIII was a staunch advocate of the beverage to the Catholic Church and thereby endorsed the drink, saying that it was a Christian or safe beverage against the widely held belief that it was a pagan Muslim drink.

In time, the Catholic Church lifted its ban on coffee.

The First UK Coffee House

The first coffeehouse in the UK was opened by Pasqua Rosee in the 1650s, who was once a servant to Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. It started as a place where people could gather to consume coffee, chat, entertain, and exchange ideas.

Rosee’s establishment attracted a clientele, including poets, businesspeople, and other intellectuals. By the end of the 17th century, there were hundreds of coffee houses operating throughout the UK, and the trend continued to grow throughout the following centuries.

UK Coffee Consumption

The popularity of coffee in the UK is exceptional, and tea is no longer the prevalent drink of choice in the country. The UK coffee industry has skyrocketed in recent years with an increasing number of coffee shops sprouting up in most metropolitan areas.

Revelatory surveys show that over 70% of UK adults are coffee drinkers, with drinking habits switching between instant coffee and espresso. The average UK coffee drinker consumes 2 cups of coffee per day, primarily consumed during the morning hours.

Number of Coffee Drinkers Compared to Tea Drinkers

Interestingly, although coffee continues to grow in popularity, tea still holds a special place in most UK households. According to research conducted by the National Tea Day, over 80% of people in the UK drink tea every day.

By comparison, coffee only comes in at 57%. Tea is generally consumed throughout the day and remains a traditional staple across the country.

Amount of Coffee Consumed in the UK per Day

The popularity of coffee in the UK has increased to a level where approximately 95 million cups of coffee are consumed daily, with many people opting for coffee shops to purchase their daily coffee intake. On average, UK coffee drinkers buy their coffee from cafes and coffee shops, amounting to around 1,656 cups per year.

This means that Britons spend around 730 a year on their caffeine fix, which is indicative of the substantial growth of the coffee industry in the country.


While tea remains the UKs cultural staple and side by side with coffee, coffee seems to have taken over the daily habits of caf-goers and office workers in the UK. The consumption of coffee in the UK originated from various cultural trends and influences driven by social and economic factors.

As the trend continues to grow, it appears that coffee’s popularity is unlikely to wane, and may continue to rise in the face of evolving tastes and preferences.

Facts about UK Coffee

Coffee, a beloved drink in the UK and around the world, has become a significant part of the culture and society. The influence of coffee has transcended countries and cultures, leaving a mark on people and their daily lives.

Here are some interesting facts about coffee in the UK that provide insight into the growing trend of coffee appreciation.

Expenditure in Coffee Shops

Coffee shops have become a hub for people to meet, exchange ideas and enjoy a good cup of coffee. In recent years, coffee shops have become an essential part of the UKs coffee culture.

Data shows that consumers in the UK spent 10.1 billion on coffee shop purchases in 2019, with approximately 25% of consumers visiting coffee shops more than once a week. This trend is indicative of the demand for coffee shops in the UK and that this market will continue to grow.

Brazil as the Largest Coffee Exporter

Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producer, has been exporting coffee for over 200 years. The country’s mild climate, rich soil, and a vast workforce have established Brazil as the top exporter of coffee, accounting for over 40% of the world’s coffee production.

The Brazilian coffee industry supports over 8 million people worldwide and contributes significantly to the global coffee industry. Finland’s High Coffee Consumption per Capita

Finland, a Nordic country known for its design, education system, and saunas, is also famous for its coffee consumption.

In fact, Finland is the world’s largest per capita coffee consumer, with the average person consuming about 12 kg of coffee per year. This figure is almost twice as much as the average citizen of other countries.

Finnish culture regards coffee drinking as an essential part of everyday life, with various rituals, such as the Finnish coffee cupping, a process that involves evaluating the aroma and taste of coffee in a social setting.


Coffee, once considered the beverage of choice for early morning risers and office workers, has garnered a growing popularity worldwide. Across the world, coffee has become a social drink, a stress reliever, and sometimes even a work of art.

The popularity of coffee has continued to grow in the UK, with various coffee shops popping up in most boroughs. As the coffee industry continues to evolve, it’s apparent that coffee’s enduring popularity around the world will drive innovation and growth throughout the industry.

Whatever the future holds for coffee, one thing is for sure: its popularity will remain as strong as ever. Coffee is a beloved drink that has become a significant part of culture and society, not only in the UK but also around the world.

The history, popularity, and consumption habits of coffee in the UK demonstrate the growing trend of coffee appreciation. Coffee shops have become a hub for people to meet, exchange ideas, and spend money, with the UK coffee industry skyrocketing in recent years.

Brazil is the largest coffee exporter globally, while Finland leads in coffee consumption per capita. As we look to the future, coffee’s enduring popularity seems assured, and the industry will undoubtedly continue to innovate and grow.

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