Coffee and Tea Drinking Habits in Africa

Tea and coffee drinking habits in Africa

Africa has an interesting relationship with coffee. Despite being credited with being the birthplace of coffee and producing some of the best coffee in the world, Africans do not consume as much coffee as the rest of the world.

In Nigeria, the average consumption level is 0.005kg per capita. This, compared to nations like Finland, is radically low. Finland’s consumption level stands at about 12kg per capita. It is better in countries like Kenya at 0.036kg per capita, but even that is still low.

Ironically, countries producing lesser coffee can’t get enough of it. In contrast, countries that produce coffee in Africa prefer tea and other soft beverages like Coke to tea. Let’s take a deep dive into Africa’s coffee and tea drinking habits.

Tea drinking in Africa

In many African countries, tea and chocolate are more affordable than coffee. Tea, however, easily gets the spot as the most preferred beverage in Africa. Its essence is ingrained in the African culture as a symbol of hospitality.

Many African homesteads offer tea as a welcome gesture. Walking into an African home will likely earn you a cup of tea if the hosts appreciate your presence. Unlike other places like Asia, where black tea is made by running hot water through black processed tea leaves, Africans prefer a mixture of hot water, boiled milk, tea leaves, and sugar.

Many African homesteads associate tea with breakfast. It is commonly consumed in the morning before people embark on their daily activities. In countries like Kenya, tea is cheaper than coffee in restaurants.

Kenya is the largest producer of tea in sub-Saharan Africa. Tea is cheap and readily available. For less than half a dollar, one can purchase enough processed tea leaves to prepare tea for over 20 guests. This is much cheaper than coffee and fits the economic situation. Tea consumption is similar in tea-producing countries like Tanzania, Uganda, and Malawi.

African coffee drinking habits

On their own, African people are not big consumers of coffee. However, in recent years, and like the rest of the world, there has been a surge in coffee consumers. This is in great part due to the influence of Western culture.

Specifically, Western countries like America have propagated their coffee culture to Africa through films and literature. It is widely regarded as a social drink in many American movies, a social lubricant that helps people connect.

This idea has been accepted and replicated in many African countries. It is evident in the increasing number of cafes serving coffee in various forms. However, it is served as a drink for the elite. Only people above a certain income level can afford it.

For context, 85% of Africans live on less than $5.5 a day, according to the World Bank. On average, a cup of coffee can cost as much as $2 in a cafe. This only enables coffee consumption in cafes possible for less than 15% of the population and not the whole lot.

With these numbers in mind, coffee has a long way to go in Africa before it matches, let alone overtakes, tea as the most popular beverage. Interestingly, several African countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya produce some of the best coffee in the world.

Many people grow coffee in different regions of Africa but never taste their produce. In fact, some have no idea their coffee is among the most sought-after in the world.

The most common forms of coffee are instant, fresh brew, and specialty. Instant coffee is available in sachets and is often lower quality than locally produced coffee. Specialty coffee is reserved for the middle class, with more disposable income. In the past few years, coffee and tea capsules consumption has been on the rise in Africa as in all over the world, with local manufacturers making them with local coffee and tea blends.

Final thoughts: Coffee and tea drinking habits in Africa

There is no doubt that coffee consumption in Africa is on the rise. However, economic factors like purchasing power inhibit the rapid growth of coffee consumption. In addition, cafes have an important role to play in the popularization of coffee. This is evident in their role in increasing the adoption of coffee in countries like China and Asia as a whole.

Cafes require massive financial investments from investors who understand coffee’s role in building communities and their business potential. As stated earlier, coffee drinking can act as a social lubricant that helps bring people together and enhance the social culture of a people. They can make money while helping build communities.

Many investors and large foreign corporations are unwilling to invest in Africa due to the low purchasing power and governance issues that plague local governments. This, unfortunately, will continue to put a leash on the adoption of coffee.



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