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History and Joys of Coffee in Europe

Cappuccino & Pastel de Natas in LisbonThis is more of an overview of coffee in Europe rather than a history of coffee timeline. In the summer of 2022 I got to travel to Lisbon, Portugal and to Italy, and drinking coffee in Europe has ruined me for American coffee! I haven’t been able to duplicate the exact experience back here in America, but I sure have gotten close with my own Mr. Coffee Cafe espresso maker and using quality beans like Lavazza Espresso Beans from Italy – which I get at Costco. (I like Starbucks’ dark roasted beans, too.) There are many benefits in drinking coffee, which these countries in Europe have capitalized on in their way of consuming this incredible beverage. They have truly turned it into an art. There’s no way to describe it – you just have to go to Europe and try it for yourself.

Coffee has been a popular beverage for centuries, and it is a staple in many cultures around the world. In Europe, coffee drinking has a rich and varied history, and it remains a beloved part of daily life in many countries.

Coffee arrived in Europe in the 16th century,

and it quickly became popular among the wealthy elite. Coffee houses began to appear in cities across the continent, and they became gathering places for intellectuals, artists, and politicians. These coffee houses were often called “penny universities” because for a small fee, customers could listen to discussions and debates on a wide range of topics.

Today, coffee is enjoyed by people from all walks of life in Europe. In fact, many European countries have their own unique coffee culture and traditions. Here are some examples:

Coffee in ItalyCold, refreshing coffee Shakeratu in Florence

I had Italian coffee in Bologna, Florence, and Assisi, and it was so rich it was almost caramel-like. An intense experience that makes the teeny tiny espresso and cappuccino’s make sense there (one cup I had at a pizzeria could literally be served at a doll’s tea party, it was that tiny – but rich and delicious and a perfect end to perfect pizza.) Italy is famous for its espresso, which is a strong, concentrated coffee served in small cups. Italians typically drink espresso in the morning and after meals, and they often enjoy it standing up at a café bar. In Italy, it is considered a faux pas to order a cappuccino too late in the day, as it is seen as too heavy. Some say never order any after breakfast, some say don’t order cappuccinos anytime after Noon. And apparently no Italian has one after dinner. This may be due partly to the fact that milk is harder to digest and is best not taken late in the day. It’s also rather filling.

In my daily routine now, I have a tiny Italian-style cappuccino, macchiato or espresso with my breakfast, my morning treat. I then switch to American-style coffees to sip slowly throughout the day while I work. I do usually use milk, we sure like our lattes and cappuccinos here in the US. They do tend to fill me up, but I don’t see that as a bad thing necessarily.

I found that coffee drinking in Portugal seemed to be the same as coffee in Italy, or any neighboring countries like France and Spain, is my guess.

Coffee in France

In France, coffee is typically served with breakfast or after dinner. French coffee is often made using a French press, which is a simple but effective brewing method that produces a full-bodied, flavorful cup of coffee. French cafes are also known for their pastries and baked goods, which pair perfectly with a strong cup of coffee.


Spanish coffee is a social beverage that is often enjoyed with friends or family members. Spanish coffee is typically served in small cups, and it is often made using a stovetop espresso maker. In some regions of Spain, such as Catalonia, coffee is often enjoyed with a shot of brandy or other liqueur. I got to try one of these liquored Spanish coffees while traveling in Ireland in 2019. That was very cool!

Turkish coffee

In Turkey, coffee is an important part of daily life and is often served during social gatherings. Turkish coffee is brewed using a special pot called a cezve or ibrik, and it is typically served in small cups with a side of Turkish delight or other sweet treats. In Turkey, it is customary to read the fortunes of the coffee grounds left in the cup after drinking. You also have to stop drinking before you get to the bottom or you will get a mouthful of grounds.

Coffee in Scandinavia

In Scandinavia, coffee is a beloved beverage that is consumed throughout the day. Scandinavians are known for their love of filter coffee, which is often served in large mugs. In Sweden, coffee breaks are known as fika, and they are an important part of the workday. During fika, co-workers gather for coffee and pastries, and they take a break from work to socialize and recharge.

To me, this sounds more like American-style coffee drinking – large mugs, the larger the better, with plenty of milk and sweetened flavor or sugar. Maybe we got it from them. It gets cold where I live in Colorado, so I want a good-sized hot beverage to sip slowly. But I’ve never cared for the giant cups many American’s like, maybe because I’m partial to European-style espressos. I use mugs anywhere from my tiny espresso cup to small cups (about the size of a mandarin orange) to a regular-sized mug like you might also use for tea. No bigger.

Overall,In Lisbon

coffee drinking is an integral part of European culture, and it continues to evolve and change with the times. Whether you prefer a strong Italian espresso, a smooth French press coffee, or a sweet Turkish coffee with dessert, there is something for everyone in Europe’s vibrant coffee culture. So the next time you’re in Europe, be sure to take some time to enjoy a cup of coffee and experience the local coffee culture firsthand.


Go Green – The best Coffee Travel Mugs to keep with you

There are a few simple steps we can take which will collectively make a huge difference for the earth. One is to stop using disposable coffee mugs. Learn to take a coffee travel mug with you (and there’s one for anybody’s purse or pocket – see below). Both regular and insulated coffee travel mugs work well. I was inspired when I spent a month at my parent’s home in Kentucky. My dad puts a normal medium-sized coffee mug into his leather briefcase-type carry bag (and yes, it fits!). Every Sunday at church he uses that instead of the Styrofoam cups offered. He takes it everywhere, even on his recent European trip hitting Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Since then, I’m learning to grab one of my own coffee mugs – either a regular one, or an insulated coffee travel mug. The nice thing about a coffee travel mug is they come in a variety of sizes, so you can easily find one to fit in your own carry-bag or purse (or just have one in your car).

Stojo Silicone Collapsible Cup

Yes, you can get a collapsible coffee mug made from silicone. This one is sleek, comes in a variety of colors, comes with a silicone straw if you want iced coffee, and collapses to 2.5″ thick – you can actually fit this into your pocket. For those who really don’t want a bulky coffee mug of any kind in their bag, this one is for you. Because it’s silicone it’s dishwasher and microwave safe. It comes in a variety of sizes, too, but most people will want the 16oz travel mug (4″x4″x6.5″).

You can find the Stojo Silicone Collapsible Coffee Cup at, and

S’well Tumbler

If, like me, you want something that’s looks like a work of art, this insulated stainless steel coffee travel mug is the one for you. It holds 18oz too – the perfect size for a Starbucks Grande with a little bit of room at the top. The S’well Tumbler comes in gorgeous shades and designs – like white marble or natural wood – even though it’s a stainless steel travel mug. It also comes in some classic solid colors, too. It’s high-grade stainless steel and BPA free.

You can find the S’well Tumbler Insulated Coffee Travel Mug at, and

Contigo West Loop Stainless Steel Travel Mug

If, like me, you have a “drinking problem” and end up getting coffee on your clothes almost every day, this is the travel coffee mug for you. It’s classic looking, and the superior Autoseal lid technology won’t let stray drops decorate your outfit. It comes in both 16oz and 20oz in a large variety of shiny and matte stainless steel colors. With this Thermalock insulated coffee travel mug your drink will stay hot up to seven hours and cold up to eighteen hours.

You can find the Contigo West Loop Stainless Steel Travel Mug at, and

Kinto Travel Tumbler

This is a chic fashionable insulated coffee travel mug which keeps your drinks hot up to seven hours. It comes in several neutral shades with a Feng Shui modern-art vibe – minimalist and professional-looking, in two different sizes. The lid screws off so you can sip it like a regular coffee mug.

The Kinto Travel Tumbler is found at, and at the Museum of Modern Art store (

Okay, if nothing else, you have to check out the Museum of Modern Art store website. All is can is WOW.

Yeti Rambler

For people who love the power of Yeti – like their camping cooler – you will love this double-walled insulated coffee travel mug. It features a mag-slider lid – using magnets to keep your lid closed – and comes in a large variety of fun colors. The sweet thing is that the entire mug – all of it – can go in the dishwasher. It’s insulated stainless steel. Yeti has a variety of coffee travel mugs in different sizes.

You can find the Yeti Rambler at, and

Hydro Flask Travel Coffee Flask

This double-walled insulated classy coffee travel flask comes in several sizes and will keep your drink hot up to six hours and cold up to twenty-four. As a flask it has a wide-mouth opening with a flip-cap, so you can sip it like a regular mug or like a normal coffee travel mug. It comes in a bunch of pretty color options, is made of stainless-steel and is BPA free.

The Hydro Flask Travel Coffee Flask is found at,, and

Or just a regular coffee mug

Another option is to purchase a local coffee shop’s travel mug – the bonus is that you get a good discount at that shop every time you refill your mug. I did this with Pike’s Perk Coffeehouse – they offered a smaller size than normal coffee travel mug. I love the smaller size as it fits well in my purse, it’s a “Small” at the coffee shops, and it keeps my coffee hotter longer while I’m enjoying my writer’s group at that coffee shop every week. This is the one I grab to take to church, too, as I don’t worry about it breaking. But you can use a travel coffee mug, any of them, at chains like Starbucks and get a cup discount.

Plus coffee travel mugs are just so much prettier than disposable cups.

Of course another option is to do like my dad and simply carry around your own favorite coffee mug from home. Be careful if it’s ceramic and might break. For my fitness program I love to larp (live action role-play), and for that I bought a beautiful, small wooden coffee mug from It won’t break through all my fantasy adventures, I loop through its handle to hang on my belt, it looks medieval being made of actual wood, and my larp character, a dryad, hates metal, so its perfect.


Best Espresso Machines for Home Use 2019

Nothing starts your day better than a perfectly smooth, rich espresso or cappuccino. If you want one of the best espresso machines for home use, here are several to consider. Espresso machines can go super-high in price, as we know, so the ones here are in affordable ranges – starting with the best espresso machine for $600, to some almost-as-good espresso machines for home use under $200 and under $100. You can find the one that best fits your budget.

I’ve done my online research and these machines came on top out of ten machines and eighty hours of testing. Keep in mind that if you go for something super cheap, like less than $50, you’re going to get a machine that works the same as a moka pot – making strong coffee, but not a true pulled espresso shot.

The Best Espresso Machine 2019: Breville Barista Express

This is the around-$600 model, but look at what it does to achieve the ultimate espresso: it automatically grinds the beans for each shot, it doses the grounds directly into its portafilter, and it has a decent milk frother. This machine is larger (13.25″ x 12.5″ x 15.75″) and looks like a professional machine at Starbucks. It doses a higher 9-22 g of ground coffee instead of the weaker 11-13g that other home machines do – this makes it taste like the shots you get at cafes. It has a grind size dial and monitors precise pressure and temperature at the right moment to make the best shot of espresso.

This machine has over 2,400 reviews on Amazon with 73% five-star ratings – people really LOVE this unit. But with the few bad reviews (10% 1-star), some of it was due to the burr coffee grinder component breaking, and the customer service at Breville is so bad it’s practically non-existent in the reviewers’ experience. So it may be that on a few models the grinder doesn’t last long – maybe buying an espresso machine without this feature (and grinding your beans yourself) is the best way to go. One reviewer did finally get a replacement machine from Breville, and the new machine worked so much better overall he believes the first one was just faulty all through.

Another negative review mentioned it only lasted about two years. Another said the machine is inconsistent with the quality of its shots. But again, 73% gave five-star reviews with lots of tips and details and they love this machine for home use.

NOTE: Breville makes a stand-alone burr coffee grinder that works amazingly well – the Breville Smart Grinder Pro. It’s $180, however. If you get your own grinder, make sure it is a burr grinder – those grind the best grounds.

The Breville Barista Express BES870XL is found on

Best Espresso Machine for Home Use under $200: Cuisinart EM-100

It’s interesting that this one, second only to the Breville Barista Express, is a third of the cost. The Cuisinart EM-100 is smaller at 12.6″L x 8.2″W x 11″H. This one won’t grind your beans for you, but its powerful enough to brew espresso from even fine grounds. This espresso machine has a milk frothing arm and a built-in cup warmer – not bad. You won’t find these pulled shots quite as strong and perfect as the Breville one, but this affordable model came in second. I’d say this is an excellent value for the price.

On the Best Buy site there are only thirteen reviews, but they are 54% five-star, 23% 4-star and 23% 1-star. One complaint is that the machine is very loud. Also, one customer went through two units with both having significant functioning issues – Cuisinart admits that they’ve had some recent quality issues with some of these units.

The high reviewers love the machine, it’s affordable and tasty, though considered a basic espresso machine.

You can find the Cuisinart EM-100 at Best Buy.

Best Espresso Machine for Home Use Under $100: Mr. Coffee ECMP50

If you’re on a tight budget, this is the espresso machine for you. Though the flavor isn’t quite as strong or smooth as the Breville or the Cuisinart, it still pulls beautiful shots full of flavor with good crema. The frothing wand is a bit short for frothing, however, and this unit does not come with an included milk frother pitcher (unlike the others) – but again, a small milk frothing pitcher is an inexpensive accessory and you can get one at Amazon (or even use any little pitcher you have on hand – if it’s not metal, you can even pre-warm your milk in the microwave first). This one is 12″L x 11″W x 12.5″H.

The 289 online reviews are mostly five stars (157), but the few lower ratings (33 1-star) are because this machine is said to last only about 1.5-2 years in general.

The Mr. Coffee ECMP50 can be found at

Other Espresso Machines for Home Use

These are the machines tested that didn’t make the cut for the top three of 2019:

  • Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista (though this is the one I use and I LOVE it – especially the milk container that heats and froths your milk of choice.
  • Mr. Coffee Cafe 20-oz Steam Automatic
  • Mr. Coffee Four-Cup Steam Espresso System
  • Aicook 3.5Bar Espresso Coffee Maker
  • DeLonghi EC702
  • DeLonghi EC155
  • DeLonghi EC3420
  • Capresso Four-Cup Espresso & Cappuccino Machine
  • Brentwood GA-125 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
  • Imusa Four-Cup Electric Espresso & Cappuccino Maker


For the best espresso machine for home use, there are so many options, but this tried and tested short list gives you the best of 2019 (and I’d include the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista as a fourth option). I suggest you get the most expensive one you can buy, as the higher the price the higher the quality of the espresso shots – and you’ll notice the difference in taste and texture. It seems, in my experience and of other reviewers, that most espresso machines for home use last around two years – even these here. If you’ve had a machine last longer than that, please comment below – I’d love to see if there’s one that actually goes the long haul.