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We know that the French love their wine, and that the U.S. is on a big sparkling water kick. But that doesn’t necessarily make them the top consumers of those drinks worldwide, at least on a per-capita basis (the average amount each person consumes). From the surprising reasons Finnish people are coffee-crazy to the Turkish love of tea, learn which countries around the world consume the most per capita of 13 popular beverages.
Coffee isn’t just popular in Finland — it’s taken very seriously. The European country is one of the only in the world where coffee breaks are mandated or considered working time by some labor unions. In the 1970s, President Urho Kekkonen established a law doing away with bitter dark roasts, instead requiring coffee beans to be lightly roasted for better taste. Considering that, and the fact that Finland has some of the world’s cleanest tap water for brewing a cup, it makes sense that the average Finn consumes almost 27 pounds of the caffeinated beverage every year.
The Finnish aren't the only Europeans who love their java: Europe is the most caffeinated continent overall, with nine of the 10 top coffee-consuming countries. Canada, where the Tim Horton’s coffee chain can be found on nearly every street corner, comes in 10th place at just over 14 pounds per capita per year. The U.S., despite the saturation of Dunkin’ and Starbucks, takes the 25th spot with 9.2 pounds of coffee consumed per person.
Aside from water, tea is the world’s most consumed beverage, and the country that drinks the most of it is Turkey. Turks consume 6.96 pounds each year on average — almost an entire pound more of the hot, comforting drink than the Irish, who come in second. The United Kingdom — with a widely documented tea-time culture — ranks third, at just under two pounds per capita annually.
Tea only became common in Turkey in the 1900s. Instead of coffee houses, the Turks favor tea houses; they are hubs of socialization and a major part of the country’s tea-drinking ritual. Turkish tea is traditionally black tea served in tulip-shaped glasses on a small saucer, with two cubes of sugar but no milk. The average Turkish tea drinker consumes three to five cups a day, but this number can increase to up to 10 during the colder winter months.
Beer: Czech Republic
Beer is by far the most popular alcoholic drink around the world. For over 25 years running, the country that drinks the most beer per capita — by quite a large margin — is the Czech Republic. The average resident of the European country guzzles 142.6 liters of the golden bubbly beverage annually. By comparison, people in other major beer-drinking countries such as Austria and Germany barely crack 100 liters.
It’s fair to say that the Czech Republic has a strong beer culture. After all, it is the birthplace of pilsner, one of the most popular styles of beer, and in many Czech cities, a beer will set you back less than a bottle of water. And it doesn’t seem likely that the country will reverse course anytime soon. Each year, consumption is increasing, although trends in recent years favor take-home bottles from breweries rather than old-fashioned pints at a local pub.
Both the U.S. and the U.K. have storied whiskey-making traditions, but it’s France that takes the top spot for whiskey consumption per capita. The average French person consumes about 2.15 liters of the spirit per year. Recently, the country’s production has started to catch up with its tastes: A crop of new distilleries began making their own whiskeys in the past decade, and sales of French whiskey quadrupled between 2010 and 2017.
Behind France, Uruguay is the second-biggest whiskey consumer at 1.77 liters per person, followed by the United States (1.41 liters), Australia (1.3 liters), and Spain (1.29 liters). Perhaps surprisingly, the U.K. lands in the seventh spot, drinking 1.25 liters annually.
Bottled Water: Mexico and Thailand
Water is the most consumed beverage in the world. In many countries, however, public services struggle to provide clean and safe drinking water, so bottled water consumption is often much higher. Mexico and Thailand are tied in first place with 72.4 gallons of bottled water per person per year. (Both countries also count tourism as a primary economic driver, although tourism’s exact impact on those figures is unknown.) In Mexico overall, it’s estimated that eight out of every 10 residents relies on bottled water, or as many as nine out of 10 in the capital, Mexico City.
On the other hand, the U.S. leads the world in per-capita tap water consumption — although a major contributor to that number is the water usage required for certain industries. (Meat production alone accounts for 30% of the total, for instance, while sugar production contributes 15% to the figure.)
Sparkling Water: Germany
Sparkling water is clearly having a moment. As dietary trends shift toward alternatives to soda and alcohol, sugar-free, lightly flavored bubbly drinks like La Croix have been exploding in popularity. But while consumption of carbonated beverages continues to increase by the double digits in the U.S. alone, it’s Germany that consumes the most of the fizzy stuff per capita.
Germans drink almost 138 liters of sparkling water per person every year; about 78% of the bottled water consumed in Germany is carbonated. Part of the reason for seltzer’s popularity is the high quality of German groundwater sources. The country’s tap water comes from the same place, and while residents are encouraged to drink more of their safe, clean tap water, bottled bubbles still reign.
Coke and Pepsi have long competed as close cola rivals in the U.S., but around the world, Coca-Cola is the most popular soft drink. According to the most recent data available, Mexico is the world’s top Coca-Cola consumer per capita, drinking 745 cans (each eight fluid ounces) per year. Americans’ soda consumption has been declining over the past few years, but they still manage to nab the number-two spot, drinking 401 cans.
The number drops to 259 cans for third-place Canada, while Argentina — one of the world’s leading soft drink consumers — comes in sixth for Coca-Cola consumption.
Soy Milk: China
Dairy alternatives such as almond or oat milk are increasingly popular, but soy milk has maintained a hold on the dairy-free market for years. No country consumes more of it per person worldwide than China — specifically, Hong Kong. Residents in the Special Administrative Region of China consume a per-capita average of 17 liters each year, according to the most recent data.
Eight of the world’s top 12 soy milk-drinking countries are also in Asia, including Singapore (12 liters), Thailand (10 liters), the rest of China (9.5 liters), and Malaysia (9 liters). Australia, Canada, and Spain lead the pack outside of Asian countries.
Although they are the two largest producers of wine overall, neither France nor Italy takes the top spot as the world’s biggest wine-drinking country per capita. According to the most recent data from the Paris-based International Organization of Vine and Wine, the tiny European principality of Andorra (population 77,000) ranks highest. The mountainous country, situated between France and Spain, drinks 56.9 liters of wine per person annually.
Vatican City takes second place (56.2 liters), followed by Croatia (46.9), Portugal (43.7), and, finally, France (43.1). Although the U.S. consumes the most wine overall — some 872 million gallons — when it comes to per-capita data, it doesn’t even crack the top 50.
No one drinks vodka like the Russians — probably because the potato-based spirit likely originated there or in Poland sometime in the eighth or ninth century. Each year, Russians consume approximately 17.3 shots per person per month, and in 2010, the Russian government actually raised vodka prices to try to curb the country’s high consumption.
Poland (13.7 shots per person per month) and Ukraine (9.96 shots) are next on the vodka list, while Bulgaria and Slovakia come in at a distant fourth and fifth with 5.26 and 4.13 shots per month, respectively. The U.S. comes in sixth place, followed by Ireland, Finland, the U.K., and Hungary rounding out the top 10.
Cider: United Kingdom
This fizzy, fermented alcoholic apple drink is extremely popular in the U.K., with the average Brit drinking more of it than people anywhere else in the world. It's so popular, in fact, that 57% of all apples grown in the U.K. are used for cider production. Brits drink approximately 12.18 liters of cider per person every year. The cider market in the U.S., while growing, is still very small, representing just 1% of the country’s entire alcoholic beverage market.
Hot Chocolate: Portugal
Hot chocolate is a decadent treat for children and a guilty pleasure for adults, and no country in the world drinks more of it per person than Portugal. The Portuguese drink a whopping 100.2 cups per capita annually — an amount that sounds either soothing or sickening, depending on your sweet tooth.
The hot chocolate that originated in Spain during the 1600s consisted of ground cocoa beans, water, wine, and chili peppers. Although the powdered packets today are quite different, Spain is fourth worldwide in per-capita consumption (76.6 cups). Ahead of Spain are Finland (90.1 cups) and Colombia (84 cups).
Despite the fact that gin was invented in 17th-century Holland as a form of medicine, the Netherlands only ranks third in per-capita consumption with 0.63 liters of the juniper berry spirit per year. It’s not far behind Belgium at 0.73 liters, but they both trail the world’s top gin-drinking country, Spain, which consumes 1.07 liters per person each year. (That’s in no small part due to the exploding popularity of the Spanish gin and tonic, a dressed-up take on the classic cocktail.)
Europe accounts for eight of the top 10 gin-drinking countries. North America is the only other continent on the list, with Canada and the U.S. in the sixth and seventh spots. The U.K., responsible for the invention of the gin and tonic in the 1800s, places fourth. Brits consume 0.55 liters per person per year — approximately half of what an average Spanish person consumes.