tiistai 14. helmikuuta 2012

Coffee - the Contributor of Civilization

Brr, it’s freezing cold outside (-15.6 °c) and I’m in desperate need of one Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha! Considering these dark and icy winters, it ain’t hard to understand why Finland leads the world in per-capita coffee cups..

Anyway my dear blog readers, it’s probably self-evident that caffeine plays a crucial role in the life of coffeeholics like me, but have you ever happened to think the social importance coffee has?

I’m proud to present the super interesting facts I found this morning! Got my inspiration from the recently published book Coffee Culture – Local Experiences, Global Connections and fell immediately in love with the author Catherine M. Tucker. I’m gonna send her a fan mail asap, we’re definitely on the same wavelength! <3

Let me first throw a glance at history because one can never get too much all-round education, right?

So here we gooo…

French Claude Levi-Straus, ‘the father of modern anthropology’, investigated how interaction with food affects humans’ way to transform and create culture. His considered the process of cooking food as a way through which human beings differentiate themselves from animals, and as a mean of developing contemporary culture and civilization. Levi-Strauss’ Culinary Triangle (1964) divides food in three categories (raw, cooked and rotten) which were found to be basic to all human cuisines (Clark, 2004).

Levi-Strauss’ model has been criticized for its universality: it may remain insightful when placed in local contexts. However, the triangle still provides a helpful way to think the role of coffee in a modern society. Unlike most drinkers may think, a cup of coffee is not just a cup of coffee. For example Tucker (2011) notes coffee is ‘clearly cooked’: it has been roasted, ground and added to water by boiling, filtering, pressing or steaming. Thus, ‘coffee is a complex culinary creation that signifies civilized society’. (Ibid)

For the past twenty years, the fastest growing segments of global coffee market have been fair trade and speciality coffees. The increasing number of international connections and global networks is one main reason behind this trend. According to Tucker (2011), ‘the success of these coffees in many niche markets reflects associations with social values and meanings held dear by people across a range of social groups and political perspectives’. Starbucks has probably gained remarkable benefit from such changes in the consumers’ mindset: its broad product portfolio with e.g. various coffee drink specialities provide customers a great opportunity to express their personal values and trendy lifestyle. This ideology is also being captured in one of the company’s slogans: ‘it’s not just coffee, it’s Starbucks’.

As Finland is often characterized as the country of highly individualistic culture and the purchasing power among the consumers tends to be strong, it can be assumed that the Finnish buying behaviour is affected relatively much by one’s personal values. As a sequence, the market with more and more quality-conscious consumers is likely to provide many opportunities for Starbucks to successfully enter the market.

Pretty cool, isn’t it?
In my next post I’m gonna dig even deeper and focus on Starbuck’s market segmentation!   



1. Tucker C. M, 2011: Coffee Culture. Local Experiences, Global Connections. Routledge, Oxon, UK.
2. Clark D, 2004: The Raw and the Rotten: Punk Cuisine. Ethnology, vol 43. 19-31. 

2 kommenttia:

  1. Hi :) This was a very interesting post and definitwly a different take on your subject. Something I wasn't expecting ;) However, it was not that much related to your previous post. I am not saying that it should be but in the future seeing a bit more connection between posts might be nice :)

  2. Thanks for your comment Isa!

    Got the inspiration for writing this post from the Coffee Culture book (listed in the references). It totally gives new perspectives on coffee and its global influence - such as international relations between countries and continents. If you became interested, I would really recommend to read the book! ..or to give it as a present for a person who's having coffee close to his/her heart. :)