Dutch Coffee, an unknown drink for the Dutch

Unlike the general perception, coffee is very popular in South Korea and other parts of Asia. Dutch Coffee in particular is a popular cold drink, drunk throughout the year. Although the Dutch had something to do with its origin, it is not a commonly known drink in their own country, the Netherlands.

South Korea is a true haven for the coffee drinker. Every corner of every street has a coffee house, a branch from a recognised coffee chain or independent coffee brewery. Every new flavour and a variety of exciting tastes are available to taste for the coffee aficionado. In the summer months, Dutch Coffee is the favourite coffee amongst the population, even though it is drunk throughout the year too, and yet neither the coffee nor the strange looking contraption it is made in, is like anything in the Netherlands. So, what is Dutch Coffee and where does it come from? There are many theories about how this coffee came about and why it is so popular in Asia, whereas it is relatively unknown in Europe.

Coffee makers
Coffee makers

Race to export coffee

It is generally believed that the Dutch, having some of the greatest business minds and being the greatest merchandizers in history, managed to beat other countries in the race to export the coffee from Yemen. Apparently the coffee bean was brought to western Yemen from Ethiopia and as early as 1450 was used as a drink to keep the Sufi Monks awake during their long sessions of meditation. From Yemen coffee plants were taken by the trading company, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and eventually came to the Dutch Indies archipelago, which included present day Indonesia. Some believe that the technic for making Dutch coffee, which is essentially a drip coffee brewed with cold water, was invented by Dutch sailors that worked on ships of the Dutch trading company. As the sailors were limited in their use of fire outside of the kitchen, they adopted a technic that would not require any heat, and Dutch Coffee was made for the very first time. The birth of Dutch coffee might have been on board of one of VOC ships, sailing the high seas, and its fame lies in the mass production of coffee in the dark period of coffee plantation in the 17th century, as well as the Dutch influence in the region that went as far as Korea and Japan.

Although the terms Dutch Coffee, Kyoto Coffee and Cold Brew are used interchangeably, they refer to different brewing technics

Although the terms Dutch Coffee, Kyoto Coffee and Cold Brew are used interchangeably, they refer to different brewing technics. Dutch coffee is a brewing system that uses cold water and is more efficient than Cold Brew, as it can take as little as 3 - 6 hours to prepare, as opposed to Cold Brew coffee that requires between 12 - 24 hours to make. The cold water minimizes the oxidation process, limiting the acidity and bitter taste, allowing the full fruity flavours of coffee to be extracted slowly from the beans. At the same time the coffee can be kept for longer period of time because of the lack of oxidation. Another advantage of this technic and therefore its popularity in Asia is the lack of calories in the coffee, as the fat in the beans cannot be dissolved in the cold water. Kyoto Coffee and Cold Brew use cold water too. However they have a slightly different technic, and the coffee can taste different based on the duration and method that is used.

The Netherland is the home of the Dutch, and according to Dutch Daily News, it has the highest consumption of coffee, half of which is from sustainable coffee, making the Netherlands a head runner on sustainable consumption. The coffee is generally drank hot, except during very hot summer days. In the Netherlands, there is ‘morning coffee, ‘breakfast’ coffee, ‘right after breakfast’ coffee, ‘10 am meeting’ coffee, ‘after lunch’ coffee, ‘2 pm meeting’ coffee, ‘4 pm dip’ coffee, and so on. Although drip coffee is still practiced in some households and small coffee outlets, the Dutch Coffee has not made it to the Dutch coffee tables in the Netherlands. As the Dutch drink an average of three cups of coffee per day, with an average of almost 150 litters per year, the real question is whether they have the patience for the long brewing time required for Dutch Coffee, and if they would welcome the challenge.