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Social aspects of coffee

See also: Coffeehouse for a social history of coffee, and caffé for specifically Italian traditions.

The United States is the largest market for coffee, followed by Germany. Finland consumes the most coffee per capita, an average of four to five cups a day. However, consumption has also vastly increased in the United Kingdom in recent years. Coffee is so popular in the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe that many restaurants specialize in coffee; these are called "coffeehouses" or "cafés". Most cafés also serve tea, sandwiches, pastries, and other light refreshments. Some cafés are miniature shacks that specialize in coffee-to-go for hurried travelers, who may visit these on their way to work as a substitute for breakfast. Some travelers transport their coffee in vacuum bottles, which can keep a beverage hot for hours.

In some countries, notably in northern Europe, coffee parties are a popular form of entertaining. Besides coffee, the host or hostess at the coffee party also serves cake and pastries, hopefully homemade.

Because of the stimulant properties of coffee and because coffee does not adversely impact higher mental functions, coffee is strongly associated with white collar jobs and office workers. Social habits involving coffee in offices include the morning chat over coffee and the coffee break. In recent years, contemporary advertising has shifted the sum of "breaks" plus coffee into a meaning, or function, of rest and relaxation. This is ironic in that, as stated earlier, coffee is a stimulant.

Coffeehouses also assumed a more prominent role as an American social gathering place in the 1990s. Television shows such as Friends (1994) and Frasier (1993) featured coffee houses as settings for many scenes; whereas in previous decades bars were seen as usual gathering places e.g., Cheers (1982).

In recent years, cafés have begun to offer wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) connectivity to attract customers. This has encouraged customers, especially from the working world, to relax over a cup of coffee and eat something while being able to check their e-mail and surf the Web all from the comfort of their seat.

See also dunk (biscuit) for the habit of dipping a biscuit (cookie) or cake into a coffee.

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