Survival Guide To Dutch Coffee:
The brown bean has created insomniacs since the Golden Age
One thing fuelling the Netherlands is coffee, and you might need to pace yourself to keep up with the Dutch. The Dutch love their coffee, and it can be hard to match them cup for cup. So here is all you need to know about the infamous Dutch coffee.
1-The Dutch consume more coffee per day than any other nation.
A day in the Netherlands typically starts with a hot cup of joe, and from there it is possible to be offered coffee at almost every point. It usually appears in a proper cup. It has been finely ground and brewed through an espresso maker. It looks small, but it packs a big punch. This is not your mother’s mild, percolated I-Can-drink-it-all-day from an 8 oz paper cup Maxwell House. This is powerful stuff, and as such it must be respected.
2-The Netherlands maxes out annually with an 8.4 kg per capita coffee consumption.
Coffee is as much a part of the day as the rain, and like the rain, it can be had for free. Stopping by the bank? Grab a quick espresso gratis from the bank coffee machine. Not sure what’s for dinner? Have a cup from one of the sleek modern help yourself cappuccino steamers in the aisles of Albert Heijn, all while navigating the grocery store. Most shops even have a table laden with coffee makings for the taking.
You can also pay for coffee in cafes, not to be mistaken for coffee shops, where marijuana is sold. Meeting a friend in a cafe and can’t stop chatting? Order several cups in row. Coffee will also be offered if you visit a friend at home, and you can really do it if you get into those wonderful chocolates filled with yet more coffee.
It seems hard not to overindulge when the stuff is everywhere. By evening you can be reduced to a hot jittery insomniac mess, wondering how coffee became so important in the Netherlands, and how you can pace yourself and continue to socialize.
3-The beautiful brown brew has been creating insomniacs since it helped fuel the Dutch Golden Age.
The fact that the Dutch were once Europe’s greatest coffee suppliers should not really be surprising. Even the words we associate with coffee connect to seventeenth century traders through geography. Originally coffee (Dutch koffie), the word and the drink, comes from Kaffa, a place in Ethiopia. Apparently, an ancient goat herder was led to trying Kaffa berries himself after watching his goats become happily energized from eating them. He experienced a similar sensation, and coffee was born.
4-The Dutch were the first westerners to obtain live coffee plants.
By the time of the Golden Age, the coffee plant was grown in Yemen and its value as a commodity was clear. It was illegal to export the fertile plants, but that didn’t stop Dutch traders, who shipped entire coffee plants from the Yemeni coffee port of Mocha to India and Indonesia, where they were grown on plantations to supply the booming European market. Coffee is the bean that conquered a continent, an enduring social movement that tastes great while quietly stealing your sleep.
5-Only 12% of all coffee consumed in the Netherlands is decaffeinated.
When it comes to Dutch coffee, decaf is not the answer. It lacks the flavor punch, and seems hard to find in the Netherlands. Imagine running an entire golden age on decaf? Besides, this is a story about coffee.
The antidote is pacing. And tea. Tall glasses of tea, Dutch style, made by pouring hot water over a handful of mint leaves, or slices of fresh ginger. If you alternate these tea infusions with coffee, you can reduce your caffeine intake by half.
You can do it because you know there will always be more good coffee later. You can do it, but only if you want to, because those goat herders and Golden Age traders were right. They knew good java when they saw it.