What is café culture? It is the lifestyle which is characterized by social visits to cafes or coffee houses. It is the idea that one’s social system is based around a coffee shop. This concept dates back to Turkey, specifically the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century when coffee developed as a place for social ritual. The notion of the coffee house continued its growth to Eastern Mediterranean and Western European cultures. It was considered a lifestyle for artists, writers, socialites and intellectuals. Coffee houses were even considered places for political gatherings. Coffee culture can be seen historically and currently in poetry and fictional writing.  

Café culture, with its prestige and class, continued to develop in surrounding countries post Ottoman Empire, and has notably had (and continues to have) an impact on various cultures. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cafe society was introduced into Paris – at this time too Vienna’s coffee houses became internationally recognized. In Germany, Austria, Netherlands, and the Nordic countries, strong black coffee became popular to drink after meals. In Northern Europe, individuals started engaging in coffee parties, utilizing the coffee as a form of entertainment.

As time and innovation continued, so did ideas and about café culture. In Europe, the concept began to revolutionize. Cafés began to serve alcoholic beverages and expanded to “tea rooms.” In the Middle East and West asian districts, cafés served flavored tobacco through a hookah. With time, coffee and cafe cultures have changed and adapted, but have continuously been recognized as a place for social gatherings.

Today, café culture is largely popular in the Western culture and has expanded to include gourmet service with specially decorated coffee drinks and entertainment such as open mic night. With how social media is impacting our communication style, many places now offer free wifi, considered “internet cafes,” which provides a unique place for individuals to work. New “hip” spots are opening on sidewalks, mimicking the culture of Western Europe and providing an alternative location for people watching. Café culture appears to perpetually transform to match the needs of the social environment.

Café culture has even expanded into the health food niche, providing a gathering place people to enjoy coffee with healthy foods. Often times, new trends can gain popularity through their introduction at coffee shops. One great new item you can find at many coffee shops are acai products, which provide both nutrition and energy. A great way to enjoy café culture without the coffee.