Coffee culture describes a social atmosphere or series of associated social behaviors that depends heavily upon coffee, particularly as a social lubricant. The term also refers to the diffusion and adoption of coffee as a widely consumed stimulant by a culture. In the late 20th century, particularly in the Western world and urbanized centers around the globe, espresso has been an increasingly dominant form
The formation of culture around coffee and coffeehouses dates back to 14th century Turkey. Coffeehouses in Western Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean were traditionally social hubs, as well as artistic and intellectual centers. For example, Les Deux Magots in Paris, now a popular tourist attraction, was once associated with the intellectuals Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. In the late 17th and 18th centuries, coffeehouses in London became popular meeting places for artists, writers and socialites, and were also the center for much political and commercial activity. Elements of today’s coffeehouses (slower paced gourmet service, tastefully decorated environments, or social outlets such as open mic nights) have their origins in early coffeehouses, and continue to form part of the concept of coffee culture.
In the United States in particular, the term is frequently used to designate the ubiquitous presence of hundreds of espresso stands and coffee shops in the Seattle metropolitan area and the spread of franchises of businesses such as Starbucks and their clones across the United States. Other aspects of coffee culture include the presence of free wireless Internet access for customers, many of whom do business in these locations for hours on a regular basis. The style of coffee culture varies by country, with an example being the strength of existing cafe style coffee culture in Australia used to explain the poor performance of Starbucks there.1
In many urban centers in the world, it is not unusual to see several espresso shops and stands within walking distance of each other or on opposite corners of the same intersection, typically with customers overflowing into parking lots. Thus, the term coffee culture is also used frequently in popular and business media to describe the deep impact of the market penetration of coffee-serving establishments.