Small cups of coffee in Europe

Yeah, that’s the traditional Turkish style coffee method. (Or Greek-style coffee.) I was always taught to add sugar during the brewing process, and this is pretty much the only style of coffee I drink sweetened. Adding a bit or ground cardamom or cardamom pod to the grounds is a nice little kick, too.

If you’ve ever researched making Turkish coffee (and I have), you’ll find there are a lot of techniques that people swear by. It’s almost a mystical process. A lot of places say boil three times. Some say, no, that’s myth, only once. Some say to bring it to a boil very slowly. Others say as fast as possible produces superior results. Some say wait a minute between boils. Others swear by doing it right away as the foam subsides. Some start with coffee and sugar in the ibrik/cezve, then pour water over. Some pour water first and float the coffee on top. Others add it after the first boil. Etc., etc., etc. There is a lot of interesting ritual involved, and it seems everyone has their own way of doing it. It’s kind of like barbecue that way. The start-it-all-together and boil it three times is the most common method, from what I can tell. That’s how I was originally taught it. The single-boil method (which apparently is more the Arabic style, rather than Turkish), works well, in my experience, but I like that little bit of ritual of doing it in three.

So what does it say on those pages? I’d like to read about these things, not just look at the picture.

Brewing a decent espresso is far more involved than just having the machine and the coffee. Getting the right grind, the right tamp pressure, the right water temperature, the right brew time (all of which may vary depending on humidity, atmospheric pressure, freshness of the beans, how sore your arm is, solar flares…) play big roles in whether the resultant brew is a Godshot, good, mediocre, or horrible. The italians know this and make a big deal out of it. Rightly so. :wink:

It’s been years since I’ve had a decent espresso shot at Starbucks. They’re all using fully-automated espresso machines now, so the barista’s skill is irrelevant. :mad:

Regular european coffee drinker here.

I’m in Austria as we speak and what I order here is simply a “Kaffee” for that I’ll get a small cup (don’t know sizes but probably 5 or 6 times espresso size) of black espresso derived coffee. Really quite strong. To that one would add “kaffe sahn” (which is basically a form of evaporated milk).

You can ask for cappuccino or lattes but the standard coffee is the norm. And it really is of a pretty high standard wherever you go.

I much prefer these sort of sizes as I get sick of bigger drinks or it gets too cold to drink way before I’m done.
Small, strong and a drinkable temperature. That’s the ticket for me.

I’m a tea drinker, and I sympathize with the idea of smaller cups (although I just use an insulated cup at work to keep it hot).

Also, I remember one episode of Rick Steves’ Europe in Italy, where a caffé waiter was amused when he ordered a cappuccino in the afternoon. His Italian companion explained to him that no-one orders cappuccino except for breakfast.

Thanks, all, for the information. I had no idea espresso was “regular coffee” for so many Europeans. Like I said above, I don’t drink coffee, but I always thought that espresso was too strong for everyday consumption.

Ignorance fought again.

Actually, I would disagree that espresso is the usual. You tend to get espresso when you ask for espresso. Otherwise you get coffee. What coffee is differs completely per country but it is usually smaller than anything you’d get at Starbucks (never been to the US).

Often, coffee is made with an espresso machine (not drip coffee, though people have them at home).

For example:

  • In the Netherlands you can order an espresso, an Americano (extra water), cappucino or latte. You can also order a coffee, which usually gets you something midway between an espresso and an Americano. At home many people have drip coffee which they drink in small cups. Nowadays people use the dreaded Senseo at home, which makes individual small cups and tastes like the piss of someone who chewed coffee beans.

  • In the UK you will often get cafetiere coffee in a small cup. People use cafetiers at home, but you get them in restaurants as well (you get the whole thing on the table and you pour for yourself). In more up-to-date places you can order other kinds of coffee, but almost always alongside “coffee”, which means cafetiere coffee. Nowadays there are loads of places that serve whole soup bowls of watery coffee-stuff, I think because it’s hip.

All countries have completely different coffee traditions. I’ve been to almost all countries in Europe and espresso is certainly not what you usually get when you order coffee.

Here’s a link to a 2-page set of pictures on Flickr of cups & mugs of coffee in various (usually independent) coffee shops, mainly in Edinburgh. They’re a mix of cappuccino, americano, latte and flat whites… You can get giant cups like soupbowls in some places but they’re not common.

disclosure: it’s my partner’s Flickr site and linked blog - she really likes her coffee and cake!

About 10 years ago, my wife and I honeymooned in Denmark and Norway, and we were astonished by the deliciousness of the coffee. My thread on the topic was never resolved to my satisfaction; I still suspect that a cold-brew process is common in Scandinavia.

Roderick Femm, if you’re still reading, see if your local library has a book called “Coffee: A guide to buying, roasting, and brewing”, by Kenneth Davids, as, IIRC, he spends the first chapters outlining the differences in coffee culture between America, Northern and Southern Europe. Generally, the further south in Europe you go, the darker the coffee roast.

Now for some anecdotal experiences of a coffeehound Finn:

Espresso, cappuccino, latte etc. are still defined as “specialty coffee” in Finland and Scandinavia. Go anywhere and ask for a cup of coffee, what you’ll get will be filter coffee, the most usual brand (in Finland, that is) being Juhla Mokka, as far as I’ve been able to tell, a Santos/Colombia blend at about city roast (though the roastery has been experimenting with darker roasts lately). Greek/Turkish only in ethnic restaurants, and only if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a genuine one. My own experiments with Turkish coffee had to wait until I got a coffee grinder.

My experience with coffee on the North American continent extends to a ten-day stay in Quebec City, Canada, so I don’t as yet have all that much data. But generally, my colleagues and I stuck to espresso-based drinks since we (independently from each other) thought the local drip coffee was impossible to like. One technical difference I noticed was that the hotel-room coffee maker (Mr. Coffee brand, about one quart capacity, the one most of my Usenet buddies had condemned) had a flat filter basket instead of the conical Melitta style that is the European Gold standard for home coffee machines. That makes a difference, as you get a deeper bed of coffee in a cone, prolonging the extraction time and bringing the coffee up to full strength. Also, I suspect the different voltage might play a role.

So technical reasons for smaller servings of European filter coffee: Darker roasts, hotter water, more coffee grounds per cup, different extraction method. And culture plays a part, but the aforementioned Mr. Davids will tell you more about that.

Also I should add, anecdotal evidence suggests that French coffee is beyond terrible for reasons of colonialism. France used to own most of Western Africa, where most of the world’s crop of Coffea Robusta is grown (in difference to the Arabica subspecies, Robusta can be grown in lowland regions, while Arabica prefers altitude.) And the general attitude among coffee snobs would be that Robusta tastes like jet engine fuel and burnt rubber, and is mostly good for producing a good head of crema on your espresso.

Edited to add (and stereotyping quite horribly in the process), so that may be a reason for French people not wanting to linger for very long over their coffee.

Ack! Sorry for spamming the thread, but Amazon says I got the title wrong. It’s “Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing, and Enjoying” (now copypasted into the post so Butterfingers Hazy Memory here can get on with life…)

A fun little fact - Finland is a clear #1 on the coffee consumption per capita list. USA is only 25th, though that only counts the actual coffee and not the water you put into it.

I’m afraid things might have changed a bit - I’ve just been to Norway and was disappointed that most cafes I was in had the automatic machines where you press a button and the coffee comes out immediately. And they charge an unbelievable amount for it.

24 US ounces is about 1.25 UK pints. I like a large coffee, but I don’t think our portions go quite that large - my ‘Massimo’ Soya Latte from Costa is 560ml (= 1 UK pint = 20 US ounces) - that’s a weekly treat for me - I drink a lot of coffee besides, but in smaller cups.

I’d prefer two smaller cups in succession to a single large one, just because it means more of it is consumed at optimum drinking temperature.

What a bunch of bullshit. Yeah, an express is small cup. But they’re meant to be … wait for it … fast! Or if you have a cup to meet someone, it’s more like an excuse to talk. And if one finishes, order another.

[PF]They drown 'em in that shit; I seen 'em do it, man![/Pulp Fiction]

Not any weirder than carrying around a surrogate teat in a big car everywhere. C’mon – let’s not be coy. If a continental wanted to chow on some liquid, he or she would do it. And, unlike in the US where you get in “Big Trouble” for opening a bottle or many of wine on the sidewalk, it’s generally fine. (Eh, sort of).

It depends on the time of day. When I lived in France for a bit, every day would start with a gigantic bowl of filter coffee. The bows had a greater capacity than American mugs, and we’d fill them right up to the top. The people I lived with took their coffee with a cigarette and occasionally half a croissant. This was breakfast.

In the afternoon and evening, people drank espresso from a demi-tasse.

Most of this is false for most of Europe. Espresso is not the norm, if you ask for ‘a coffee’, you’re going to get filter coffee, which is exceedingly common (although I’ll grant that an ‘americano’ is indeed a usual occurence in some parts of Europe). I think most of the confusion that pervades this entire threat comes from the use of ‘Europe’, as though there is a common European coffee culture. There is no such thing.

As for cups being smaller, it is true that they often are, but that’s not necessarily because there’s espresso in them, because in most places there won’t be. My guess would actually be that coffee is supposed to be a hot beverage and if you have large volumes of it, you won’t be able to drink it all before it cools down.

I’m surprised nobody has mentioned moka pots in this thread. They’re a small stovetop coffeemaker that’s similar-to-but-technically-distinct-from espresso. They’re increasingly common in the US, because they make excellent strong coffee, are almost idiot-proof, and cost about 1/10th of a “real” espresso maker.

I’ve heard they’re exceedingly common in Europe, especially in Italy, but I’ve never had the fortune to see for myself.

I have a couple. Yes they are cheap and cheerful and produce a decent cup of strong coffee to be used in whatever way you see fit.
I use one at home and keep one for camping as they offer the best bulk/quality trade-off and if they are aluminium they are pretty much indestructible.

Only in Italy - elsewhere, they’re experiencing the same upswing as in the US, but they’re by no means exceedingly common.