Almost everything and anything is discussed over a cup of coffee! It has become an international tradition taken on by many people.
In almost every part of the world, people can be found sitting together in coffee shops, or as they may call it abroad, coffee houses, enjoying their favourite coffee drink. Whether it’s an Americano, espresso, cappuccino, Latte, French Café Crème or Arabic Qahwah, the experience of meeting for coffee has become popular in both social and work engagements.
The discovery of coffee took place in Ethiopia which explains its popularity throughout the Arab World. Coffee was so high in demand that Arabs, and later Europeans, created coffee houses.
When one travels through Europe, one will find it fascinating to find the similarities and differences in coffee houses.
Taking a couple of countries as a comparison, the following has been determined:Milan – being the fashion centre of both Italy and Europe, is where Italians are seen standing together conversing by the bar of a café taking a shot of espresso. They don’t waste any time drinking a quick espresso and indulging in a shot of caffeine. That’s the origins of the word espresso, “express” in English means fast and quick just, like a caffeine fix.
Greece –Greeks can be found enjoying their famous cold coffee known as frappe and they can nurse the glass for hours while playing a game of backgammon. Some like it hot and some like it cold! For Greeks, their preference is cold!
Austria – These coffee houses are among the most beautiful in the world. They’re old, classic and contain many books that call out to be read. People are elegantly dressed as they sip the famous Viennese mélange enjoyed with a delicious slice of Austrian cake.
Middle East – Here coffee is a different treat. Coffee houses are usually crowded with men enjoying what is commonly called Turkish coffee or Qahwah. People get together to meet and enjoy several cups of Qahwah while playing cards, or a game of backgammon, and enjoying flavoured hookah also known as shisha.
Of course, we have our own country, South Africa, which boasts various chains of franchised brands as well as individual shops.
What was once familiar in the days prior to phones and computers becoming additional appendages, was that one would find that all coffee shops, as they are called here, were filled with chairs and tables. Coffee shops have always been informal places to meet with friends for a cup of tea or coffee and a piece of cake. In those times, people really spoke to each other without the rude interference of technology.
How tables and chairs are placed are an indication of whether the shop owner would like his patrons to linger longer or to eat, drink and go, so that he can “turn” his tables several times! The further apart, the longer one can spend. This is more common in restaurants where management are assured that the bill for one table will make his pocket happy!
Since technology has evolved, the coffee shop owners have needed to follow the trends and adapt to offering plug points, free Wi-Fi and many of the shops have also adapted their lay out by adding bar type shelving and bar stools around the parameter of the store for those who would like to use their laptops, tablets and cell phones.
Where the original coffee shop had a limited menu of tea / coffee and cake, it then began adding a few extras like toasted sandwiches and basic breakfasts. The owners started to employ their entrepreneurial skills as technology became a new guest in the stores. As more and more people started to make use of coffee shops as virtual offices, they took on a different slant. It was then that menus in coffee shops began to evolve.
Thus, in South Africa, we have the eclectic mix of what is seen throughout the world. There are those that sit alone for hours working tirelessly on their laptops and there are those who meet for business or pleasure to discuss matters. On almost every table sits the device that people have become so dependent upon. In the writer’s humble opinion, the conversation blockers!
Yet the most common element throughout, is the passion for coffee.
What we offer on our drinks menu in South Africa is a good combination of what appears on worldwide coffee shop menus.
Visit Reload for the most bespoke coffee in Parklands / Flamingo Vlei and Sunningdale, Cape Town, South Africa.