Home Lifestyle Food & Drink The Swiss coffee culture
Last update on July 12, 2020

On the trail of coffee in the land of cheese and chocolate? No need to worry – Switzerland’s got your caffeine addiction covered. Learn all about the Swiss coffee traditions, how to order your fix, and the best cafés to get a fabulous cup.

Switzerland’s coveted coffee culture is hush-hush. Think sophistication and a quiet elegance – these things that spell Swiss culture, also speak volumes about Swiss coffee traditions. From the sanctity of a ‘coffee break’ to how Swiss people like their beverage, they have the low down on what works and what doesn’t.

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Morning coffee in Switzerland

We are what we eat, and drink: food is a good indicator of culture and tradition. A morning typically begins with two things in a Swiss home – coffee and a gipfeli (Swiss German for croissant). Earlier, one may have preferred drinking coffee in the relaxed environs of home, with coffee outside involving a quick takeaway before work at a barista’s window. But now, there is more inclination to take that break and sit at a café, sip a kaffee-crème or a cappuccino with a generous sprinkling of chocolate on top.

How do the Swiss like their coffee?

Coffee in Switzerland has been around for a long, long time. Even in the 17th century, coffee houses were alive and thriving in Neuchatel and Geneva among other places. And with the country being a melting pot of different cultures – German, French, and Italian – the coffee scene is quite varied and different, too. Here are some favourites that you can try when in Switzerland:

  • Kaffe-crème: Add some cream to that perfectly brewed espresso, and…voila! You have what might easily the most popular form of coffee in the country.
  • Schale: Literally, a bowl! Having a rough morning that can be brightened only by copious amounts of coffee? Schale it up! This cup of coffee with milk will work its magic in no time.
  • Luzerner Kafi: Caffeine not doing the trick on its own? Bring on the wine. This popular winter drink is a winner on those cold, dreary afternoons. A dash of wine added to extremely thin coffee with sugar. What’s not to like?
  • Espresso: Deceptively tricky to brew, this humble shot in a tiny cup is a universal favorite. Locals like their brew strong and dark – a classic Espresso.

The best brands of Swiss coffee

Swiss coffee holds its own among other coffee giants in the world: if you’re wondering how coffee-drinking became a national pastime in this country that doesn’t grow coffee, here’s something to think about – almost three-quarters of the world’s coffee trade happens in Switzerland. And Swiss people are among the top consumers of coffee on the planet!

Barista
Barista

You’ll be surprised how many of your favorite brands of coffee are Swiss. Along with Nespresso, Nescafé’s infamous and delicious instant brews also herald from Switzerland, as well as Movenpick’s array of fine coffee products – from instant to whole beans.

A prime example of the Swiss taste for the more refined side of life, even cigar-purveyor Davidoff carries a whole line of coffee concoctions, including limited editions bags and gift boxes. You are in no danger of running out of joe in Switzerland, at home or at the café counter.

Where to drink the best coffee in Switzerland

This is like choosing a favorite child. Bad coffee isn’t common in Switzerland, and happens to only the unluckiest. But fabulous coffee, on the other hand, is a given. When you’re in the country, visit one of these for a steaming cup of coffee that won’t disappoint:

  • Bovelli in Zurich: Italian coffee served with a smile and perhaps some friendly conversation – Bovelli is chic meets casual.
  • Mame in Zurich: Swiss-Barista champions Emi and Mathieu have one mission – to bring single-origin coffee into the regular café-goer’s evening. Emi, originally from Japan, is a World Brewers Cup Champion, and she believes that the café culture in Switzerland has transformed in the last few years.
  • Café Fruhling in Basel: Locally roasted coffee, milk and all other produce sourced organically and regionally – these are just a few ways in which the owners of this café keep sustainability alive. Single-origin coffees from their own roasting plant make for divine cups of joe.
  • Adrianos in Bern: A chic, bustling café moonlighting as a cocktail bar, Adrianos is a Bern rite of passage for coffee lovers. Want to watch the coffee roasting process? Take heart! Every Tuesday and Friday, customers can watch as the coffee beans are roasted and prepped for your cuppa!
  • Boreal in Geneva: Ambiance is a deciding factor in choosing a café. But what good is it when the coffee is disappointing? Boreal serves some of the best coffee in a chic, urban environment. If you are catching up on some work, you’ve got free Wi-Fi and great coffee to keep you going.

More on Swiss coffee

If you want to know more interesting facts about your favorite beverage and how it is brewed, cafes like the Coffee Lab Zurich have barista courses, and even latte art sessions.

Coffee is more than just a beverage that wakes you up in time for that morning meeting. For some, it is that cup of Nespresso that your partner wakes you up with, and for others it’s that cup over which you bond with your friends. At least now you know: when you’re in the land of chocolate and edelweiss flowers, you won’t be disappointed.