The value of coffee
The value of coffee

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

The value of coffee

4 Cultures of coffee consumption

Figure 2 Different types of coffee

Cappuccino, filter, skinny latte, espresso, instant, macchiato, Fairtrade, organic, Ethiopian, at home or at a coffee shop? How do you take your coffee? The possibilities seem endless and, as you will learn in this section, different countries have very different traditions when it comes to drinking coffee.

For social scientists, comparison is an important tool for investigating the social world. By comparing how two or more societies have developed a particular way of doing something – in this case drinking coffee – it is possible to learn a great deal about the organisation of that society and the nature of that practice. What seems like a matter of individual choice is revealed to be part of a much wider interconnected web of collective forces. For example, the style of coffee you are used to drinking is very likely linked to:

  • the systems of coffee provision in your country – the supermarkets, coffee shops, coffee machines and technologies that offer and prepare the coffee you regularly consume
  • your country’s historical trading partnership with colonies that produce particular types of coffee beans
  • public policy and legislative systems that regulate things such as the temperature of hot drinks, the levels of caffeine for a drink to be labelled as ‘decaffeinated’ or the prices that can be charged for basic goods
  • the ways different types of coffee experiences are advertised to you through the media, reinforced by cultural references such as popular TV programmes, and influenced by your friends and family.

These commercial, technological, economic, regulatory and sociocultural contexts together create and sustain distinctive cultures of coffee consumption within a country, which in turn shapes the value assigned to this commodity.

DD103_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371