If you have ever visited Dutch people, the answer to above question cannot be too difficult to give.
The Dutch drink lots and lots of coffee. I was shocked in the beginning, I couldn’t understand how they don’t get heart problems, don’t get jumpy or just explode from so much caffeine.
You will never hear a doctor in the Netherlands asking a patient how much coffee he drinks, so none will recommend a decrease of coffee consumption.
The Dutch drink coffee any time of the day, it accompanies any occasion, the visits are also called “having a coffee”. Even for a birthday you can be invited to have a coffee, although it is not the only thing you will get, but it seems the most important part of a birthday celebration. It is in any case the first part of it, no matter if the birthday will be celebrated in the afternoon or in the evening, in the beginning one, but mostly two cups of coffee will be drunk, afterwards passing to beer or wine or a soft drink.
OK, I don’t want to exagerate, not all Dutchmen drink coffee, there seems to be some sort of exclusivity, many times those who drink coffee don’t drink tea and the other way around. But at a birthday there might be one in 10 people drinking tea, the rest drinking coffee.
The limit of coffee drinking Dutchmen is very high, I can’t drink more than 2 coffees, while a Dutch person can easily drink 5 coffees during 1,5 hour.
As figures are most relevant, I found some on wikipedia, the drinks consumption in litres per Dutch person per year (figures from 2007):
- Coffee 144 – about 3,2 cups a day/person (decreasing), about 3 times more than Romanians – when hearing this, a Dutchman explained that it doesn’t mean that Dutch people drink a lot of coffee, but that Romanians drink very little 🙂 Don’t be misled by this figure, it is only an average, there are Dutchmen who easily drink 10 mugs a day.
- Tea 100
- Soft drinks 95,8
- Beer 77,2
- Milk 44,5
- Juices and nectars 26,9
- Bottled water 21,9
- Wine 21,6
- Water for coolers 2,8
- Pure alcohol 1,29
Coffee and tea are drunk the most, because they can easily be drunk all day long and at work they are most of the time for free.
In the Dutch language there is even a word: “koffiepraat” – let’s say “talking over coffee” – making conversation at work, on current issues, and where do you do this most of the times? In the place where you meet colleagues from other offices, at the coffee source 🙂
Coffee, especially during a visit, is accompanied by a cookie, you can find various kinds in the supermarkets. There is a legend known by foreigners who have been in the Netherlands, but from my experience I can say that it doesn’t happen very often: the cookie box which appears when having the first coffee, is passed around the room and then disappears back into the cupboard, without touching the table, which would enable the guests to take a second cookie. If the box is placed on the table afterwards, nobody will take another cookie, even if the host invites them to. If the coffee consumption is limitless, the cookie consumption has very well defined limits.
In the meantime, the classic coffee machine seems old fashioned in the Netherlands, real coffee lovers buy all kind of machineries, most of the times I hear people saying they have a Senseo, with coffee pads, looking a bit like tea bags, which doesn’t produce a big can of coffee, but one, max. 2 mugs. There is also Nespresso,with its commercials starring George Clooney.
Because the Dutch love coffee but also saving stuff in order to get some discount later on, there are coffee packs from which you can cut off some small coupons, which you can glue on a card and after collecting them for several months or longer and your card is full, you get a discount. For instance, the Albert Heijn supermarkets have their own coffee brand, Perla, on which you will find one and sometimes 2 of these coupons, each with a value of 10 points. When you reach 250 points you get a discount of 2 euros!!!
So remember and don’t be astonished: coffee is very important in Dutch lives.