Ten coffee habits that help explain Norwegians

Norway’s inhabitants drink 12 million cups of coffee every day. Will one of them be with you? These fun facts about Norwegian coffee culture could make the experience even better. 

Photo: Agnete Brun

Photo: Agnete Brun

Since you’ve chosen Norway as your travel destination, chances are you already have a notion of what to expect: Spectacular nature, experiences off the beaten track and a glimpse of a lifestyle you won’t find anywhere else. 

Still: Knowing what you’re in for socially might be useful as well. Here are ten facts about Norwegians’ coffee habits – and how they affect life up here.  

 

1. Coffee keeps Norway going 

It might seem like an exaggeration, but it’s true. In Norway, we consume monstrous amounts of coffee – on average, 3,6 cups per capita every day. This places us among the five most coffee-thirsty nations in the world year after year. 

2. Coffee goes well with nature 

Norwegians love bringing their coffee outdoors, whether as supplies for a mountain hike or refill of energy while working in the community. Coffee around the bonfire, in the boat or in the garden are just a few of the variations you may encounter – and most people are happy to share.  

3. Coffee is a natural part of celebrations 

Of course, coffee is an essential building block in Norwegian everyday life – for breakfast, at work and after dinner. But it’s also a brew for the grand occasions: Imagining baptisms, confirmations or weddings without freshly brewed coffee is impossible. At wedding parties, something happens with the mood when the coffee arrives at the table: The official programme is over, the shoulders are lowered, and the party can finally begin. 

4. Coffee is a rite of passage 

Few children are fond of coffee. But when adult life knocks on the door, the black beverage’s function as a social glue becomes increasingly harder to ignore. That’s why many Norwegians learn to love coffee during their studies or first job – often with a generous splash of milk or sugar added. A cup of delicious brew sometimes serves as the foundation for our first true love as well.   

5. Coffee is the engine of volunteering in Norway

Be it tiny or gigantic events, arranged by sports teams, marching bands, communities or churches: For meetings, sport conventions and volunteer work, there will be large coffee pots of coffee prepared – usually combined with pastries made by enthusiasts. That way, coffee becomes a social and economic prerequisite for volunteering in Norway. 

6. Coffee is both the village and the city 

The Norwegian coffee tradition is characterized by a pragmatic, down-to-earth approach to the beverage, typically served black and strong if nothing else is specified. The trend sensitivity for different types of coffee is naturally more prevalent in the bigger cities, such as Oslo, which occasionally has resulted in people from smaller places referring to the capital’s citizens as “latte-drinking hipster doofuses”.  

7. Coffee is hand brew and instant 

In spite of Norwegian coffee’s history as a useful beverage rather than a means of pleasure, a lot has happened to its cultural standing the last few decades. The best Norwegian baristas are among the world’s greatest, and the interest in more sophisticated brewing techniques has reached even the remotest parts of the country long ago. On the other hand, 16 percent of the population prefer instant coffee. There’s room for both. 

8. Coffee is the new gas   

Staying awake and alert in traffic is vital, and Norway’s gas stations have increasingly become pit stops for drivers in need of a refill of energy. The thermo cup has become a standard in Norwegian cars, on a par with antifreeze and GPS, and many drivers subscribe to coffee deals at gas stations they pass routinely. 

9. Coffee has religious roots 

Norwegians can – quite literally – thank God for coffee. The beverage was embraced by both Christian communities and the temperance movement early on, as an alternative to beer and booze at social events. This probably helped spreading the great and swift prevalence of coffee in Norway. 

10. Everybody drinks coffee  

When Norwegians were introduced to coffee in the 1600s, it was primarily a drink for the affluent part of the population. These days it’s the other way around, thankfully: Nothing signals equality, community, openness and inclusion like a cup of coffee. 

 PS. Wait, what: You don’t drink coffee? Don’t worry: Most Norwegians will also have a cup of tea available for visitors such as yourself. 

 

 

Anniken Enger