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Finland is the coffee king

Business Week has released a list ranking countries by coffee consumption per capita (yes, that per person for those who don’t do Latin).  My first surprise was that the United States doesn’t even fall in the top 10.  The United States is number 16 with 105.9 liters per person of annual coffee consumption.  That’s less than 1/3 a liter per day per person, which I read to mean that there aren’t as many coffee drinkers in the United States as many would like to believe.   But the second surprise of the list is that the top coffee consuming country is Finland, and this list say that they consume 608.2 liters per capita annually.  What?!?!  Seriously?!?!  That calculates out a 1.6 liters per day per person.  Who’s drinking all this coffee?  I know some of us drink a good amount of coffee each daily but drinking just under a 2-liter bottle of coffee each day is more coffee than many of us can imagine.  The number 2 country is Norway, and they drink less than 1 liter daily person annually.  That’s still quite a bit of coffee but nothing like those Finns.

This Finland revelation led to some Googling.  First, I discovered that alcohol used to be illegal in Finland, so coffee became the social beverage of choice in Finland, and even when alcohol was legalized, coffee stayed on top as the drink of choice. In recent years, as the population has aged, coffee consumption has dropped off to some degree. The older coffee drinkers were the diehards, and the loss of their older generation is also leading to a decline in coffee consumption.

I also came across a report of a study in Finland that helped highlight one of the positives of coffee consumption.  According to this study, Finnish smokers who consumed — get this — 8 or more cups of coffee a day had a 23% lower risk for cerebral infarction – the most common kind of stroke. The long-term study consisted of 29,133 Finnish men aged 50 to 69 years who smoked at least five cigarettes per day and had no history of stroke. From 1985 to 1988, these men were recruited into the trial. Approximately 2.5% of the study sample reported never drinking coffee, and approximately 64% did not drink tea. Daily coffee consumption among drinkers averaged 5.7 cups. “After adjustment for age and cardiovascular risk factors,” the study reported, “both coffee and tea consumption were statistically significantly inversely associated with the risk for cerebral infarction.”