Europe’s undying love for coffee is a well-known fact. But why does the continent’s name feature so prominently in the coffee industry?

After all, coffee didn’t originate from the continent, it came from Africa.

The coffee plant was originally from Ethiopia and was consumed throughout Africa for many centuries. Its consumption later spread to the Middle East and Europe.

Coffee was first introduced to Europe in the 1500s by Muslim slaves. It is believed that Malta was the first country in Europe to consume the beverage. The popularity of coffee soon spread throughout the Mediterranean and later to northern Europe, all thanks to the bustling trade among the existing European kingdoms.

But what is it about Europe that makes it have a special place in the coffee industry?


What Makes Europe an Ideal Continent for the Coffee Industry? 


The Number-One Coffee Importing Continent

Well, for starters, Europe has been the world’s largest coffee market for many successive years. According to records from the International Coffee Organization, the total coffee imports in Europe during the period 2016/2017 totaled to about 72.273 million 60-kg (132-lb) bags, representing 62.28% of the total global imports during that period.

Most of the coffee imported to Europe is sourced from the two of the largest coffee producers in the world, Vietnam and Brazil. They cumulatively account for about 50% of the total coffee consumed in the continent.


The Largest Coffee Consuming Continent

But not all the coffee imported to Europe is consumed domestically, as most of it is processed and exported as refined coffee. Nonetheless, Europe remains to be the world’s largest coffee consumer, consuming as much as 30% of the world’s coffee.

Of all the countries in Europe, Germany is established to be the largest coffee consumer, accounting for about 20% of Europe’s coffee consumption. Italy comes in as the second-largest coffee consumer (13%), and France is third.

Europe is also the number-one coffee consuming continent based on annual per capita coffee consumption. The continent has a per capita consumption of 5 kg (11lbs) of coffee each year. This is highest in the Nordic countries (Norway, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden).


Coffee Consumption Trends in Europe

Coffee consumption trends in Europe show that the coffee market in the continent is expected to stabilize in the long-term, even as other emerging markets in the world such as Indonesia, China, and Russia threaten to beat Europe in coffee consumption.

These countries don’t come anywhere close to Europe’s demand for high-quality specialty coffee, particularly that of the Arabica variety. Strict trade laws in the EU prevent the infiltration of low-quality coffee into the continent.


Eastern Europe News

But the greatest growth in coffee consumption in Europe has been recorded in Eastern Europe where some countries such as Poland have seen coffee consumption register a growth of as much as 80% in the past decade.

Data from Euromonitor International shows that Eastern Europe recorded a 5.7% growth in coffee consumption in 2016, eclipsing Western Europe which recorded a partly 1.8% growth rate. Slovenia, an Eastern European country, has the third largest coffee per capita consumption of any country in the world at 6.5 kg (14.33lbs).

It is estimated that the total coffee consumed in Poland in 2015 hit an all-time high of about 1.5 million bags – the highest in the world and translating to a per capita consumption of about 2.3 kg that year.

Specialty coffee shops in the country have also grown from only one to about 40 in just six years.  This skyrocketing growth in Poland’s coffee consumption is no mean feat, considering the coffee culture in this Eastern European country began only 30 years ago.

Coffee’s growing popularity in Eastern Europe means that the region has also experienced a boom in chain coffee shops. Already, the world’s leading coffee shop Starbucks has expressed its intention of putting up an additional 40 coffee chain stores in Eastern Europe to take advantage of the growing coffee market in these countries.


The 2018 European Coffee Expo

As a testament to Europe’s great love for coffee, and its rich coffee culture, the continent is about to host the pioneering European Coffee Expo in May 2018. The expo that will mainly focus on the growing coffee industry in Europe, and aims to attract major players in the industry.

The event, which will be held at the Olympia Events Center in London is expected to attract thousands of visitors from all over the world. There is so much to expect during the expo including samples from all the leading coffee brands and major coffee distributors in the world.

And this explains why the continent remains to be the world’s key player in the global coffee economy.

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