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European cafes versus American

This is a discussion on European cafes versus American within the Coffee Shops, Espresso Bars & Cafes forums, part of the Coffee Addicts category; I'm curious if most of the European Cafes & restaurants are smoke free like most places in the states these days. I haven't been back ...

  1. #11
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    I'm curious if most of the European Cafes & restaurants are smoke free like most places in the states these days. I haven't been back to Europe since I toured through Germany, Austria, Italy on a motorcycle back in 1989. I remember that the coffee was pretty good but I seldom stayed inside as everyone smoked. Luckily there were lots of sidewalk cafes. It was also different seeing dogs allowed in eating establishments.

    I like the Biscotti with your coffee idea but it is just one other thing to drive up the cost as its not really free.

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  3. #12
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    I believe the Frence have just passed a (much hated) piece of legislation banning smoking in cafes, pubs etc. Last time I was in Italy I remember cafes stil had a few smokers inside, but this may have changed. In NZ smoking has been outlawed in cafes since the early 1990's and now is pretty much confined to small bits of grass or cement far from public buildings. In Indonesia legislation was passed last year forcing cafes to provide non-smoking sections. However this has been somewhat of failure as they generally provide 1 or 2 non smoking tables right next to smokers ones. Our policy has been, and always will be, no smoking whatsoever on any cafe we are involved with.

    Too right about the extras. I mean obviously drinking your coffee at the bar saves at least E0.50 per cup- sometimes even more. Nothing is free in Europe- a basket of bread that comes out before a light meal will be charged to your account if you eat it... pure commerce
    Merdeka Coffee (Indonesian Coffee Roasters and relationship coffee specialists) - Antipodean (Coffee - Cafe - Culture)

  4. #13
    Var
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alun_evans
    Hey Var... I was trying to be polite and, um, as balanced as possible (as obviously I am not an American! ). I will leave this debate to you guys who live in the forementioned country
    Yeah, quality of clientele is a separate discussion really.

  5. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alun_evans
    I think this is an interesting debate. I would say the differences in cafe and coffee culture (the US vs. Europe) is a cultural and historical one- and it is also an ever changing evolution that has continued from obvious beginings in Europe. Generally I enjoy the cafes of Italy- the types of pastries and food they offer as well as the quality of the coffee and service. The buzz and atmosphere of these places in the morning is amazing- but of course you have to rememember the Italians drink 43 BILLION cups of coffee a year- 30% of these in the morning orrientated cafes. The passion for coffee and the undeniably central part it plays in Italians' lives plays a huge part in the coffee industry in Italy. I agree the cafe designs are beautiful, and I actually love a lot of the design ideas that I see on my trips there.

    Are the cafe designs and menu standards directly transferable to cafes operations in the USA and other countries? Not always. For instance, coffee culture has developed on very different lines in America from Italy. It was, I dare say, the norm until at least the early 1990's for coffee in dinners and restaurants around the States to be served by the cup from carafes that had been sitting on bunn warmer plates for hours. I remember a road trip I did through (the now quite coffee sophisticated) West and Mountain States of America in 1990. The coffee was, almost universally, ahhem..apallingly bad. However (before someone berates me) I would like to add coffee evolution has happened at a speed that would make Charles Darwin turn somersaults in his grave. Coffee blends, especially those used in Espresso based drinks, are now very good- albeit it different from those European counterparts.
    The irony here is that Starbucks is suppose to introduce the Italian coffee bar concept to the US. I guess they balled that up pretty much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alun_evans
    Anyway a waffle...a verbal one rather than you can eat! But I do think the differences in coffee culture make things interesting. I do know the SCAA and SCAE standards are not at all that far apart.
    It is interesting that the World Barista Championship winners are mostly from Northern European countries, add a couple from Australia and England - now that is one place known for it's coffee. But does the Italian compete in WBC?
    You want cream and sugar?
    NO COFFEE FOR YOU! NEXT!

  6. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Var
    Yeah, quality of clientele is a separate discussion really.
    Now this is the heart of the European vs America cafe culture. In Austria where cafe culture really started, people go to cafe for the community spirit, to meet friends and at the very least read old fashion newspaper. In the US, people go there to use free internet, they glue their face to the screen for hours and hours. You can have a packed cafe and all you hear is clicking keyboard, they don't go to cafe for a good time, they go to cafe to be anti social. In Italy, espresso is a simple pleasant 2 gulps pick me up. In the US, on the one hand espresso is overly roasted charcoal use to sell great big sugary milk drinks. On the other hand well crafted espresso is being nursed for hours. One way or the other, it is plain gross.
    You want cream and sugar?
    NO COFFEE FOR YOU! NEXT!

  7. #16
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    Geez Pug, you're depressing me man.

    Look on the bright side, at least we have indie shops like yours and John P's and Mocha Joe's, etc., to keep us in tune with what real coffee is all about.
    Coffee... It's what's for breakfast.

  8. #17
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    Hello,

    With the exception of one trip to Las Vegas a few years ago, I haven't ventured away from the East Coast of the US ... so I definitely can't participate in this discussion.

    I must say, I was impressed by Alun Evans' very thorough and insightful response to this topic and all of the responses that followed! I enjoyed reading it along with all of the others.

    One question....do people tip the baristas or waiters in other countries?

    Rose

  9. #18
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    Re: European cafes versus American

    Quote Originally Posted by Var
    Hi folks,

    I''m curious to learn what specific things you think European cafes that you have been to have done right or wrong, and what cafes in the USA you''ve been to have done right or wrong. It occurs to me that the only chance for improvement in the USA is for a free exchange of ideas on this matter,
    if American cafe/coffeehouse owners are reading this anyway.

    A few ideas:

    * It is good to offer a free small biscotto with each coffee as you see in European cafes, because it is a "little thing that goes a long way".

    * It is good to put mirrors on the walls as you see in European-style cafes, because it adds more sense of space; it also acknowledges the reality that humans go to cafes in part for people-watching.

    * It is very bad to seriously demand $6 for a not too large sandwich, because this activates the miserly instinct of customers and creates a hidden conflict between consumers and the business. You see this at Barnes and Noble''s cafe.

    Thanks.

    All very good thoughts I think. The European cafe's I have been in, were all geared around the fact that the pace of life is generally slower. For instance, rarely did I see a "to go cup". In the Manufaktura in Lodz, Poland (AWESOME mall in one of the largest cities in Poland built from the remains of the largest manufacturing district in Poland) there were FOUR coffee shops in a circle - all competing - but since everyone goes and sits and enjoys the drink they ordered there's room for multiple coffee shops since everyone needs a place to sit.
    --
    Jeremy Meiss
    Origins Coffee Co., LLC

  10. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by caffe biscotto
    Geez Pug, you're depressing me man.

    Look on the bright side, at least we have indie shops like yours and John P's and Mocha Joe's, etc., to keep us in tune with what real coffee is all about.
    sorry. 95F and humid is not good for coffee shop or its operator.
    You want cream and sugar?
    NO COFFEE FOR YOU! NEXT!

  11. #20
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    Good point JMeiss- the cafe is intergrated into many European cultures- meaning it is an integral part of the social fabric in countries like Italy, Holland, France and I guess (although I have never been there) Poland as well. Cafes serve great coffee- but more importantly they are THE place for starting the day, catching up with friends and neighbours- gossiping! I would agree that it would be interesting to know how many Takeaway coffees are served (as a % of coffees served) in Europe. I too would imagine the numbers wuld be quite low.

    As for tipping in cafes- In Europe it is common and expected, in Asia it is not expected in most countries but appreciated. In New Zealand and Australia the customers would say "tipping? You have got to be bloody joking"
    Merdeka Coffee (Indonesian Coffee Roasters and relationship coffee specialists) - Antipodean (Coffee - Cafe - Culture)

 

 
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