Sunday, November 30, 2014

Koffie Verkeerd

The enjoyment of coffee drinking is nothing new to the Dutch. Public coffee houses, where the caffeine-laden beverage could be enjoyed, have been part of the city landscapes since the early seventeenth century. Traditionally, only men visited these koffiehuizen, to talk about politics, read newspapers, smoke pipe tobacco and do business while drinking cups of hot, steaming coffee. Women seldom, if at all, entered these public houses, and preferred to consume coffee and tea at home.

Slowly but surely, coffee became an integral part of the day as it was served with breakfast, then with lunch, and as the integration of the black beverage solidified over the years throughout all layers of society, coffee was also served with dinner at six, and again at 8pm. The country became a coffee-loving nation, which it is to this day. According to The Atlantic magazine, the Netherlands is the world's most-coffee-drinking nation, with an average of 2.4 cups a day.

But 2.4 doesn't sound like all that much, to tell you the truth. On average, we consume four to five cups a day (one cup at breakfast, another one at work around 10:30, possibly a third one to wrap up lunch time or at 2:30pm as a pick-me-up with a cookie or a koekje, maybe a cup with dinner, and another cup at 8pm). On those days that the buurvrouw comes over, you drink at least two or three cups, while you visit and talk about well...the other neighbors, I guess. With an average of 2.4 cups, either people have stopped visiting or somebody's not pulling their weight back home!

The persistent rumor that the Dutch are so stingy that they will only offer a single cookie with coffee is one that is hard to kill, but so very untrue. Nine out of 10 Dutch people insist that serving coffee without cookies is just "not done": the cookie is part of the coffee drinking experience. This explains why, when ordering coffee at a café, one usually gets a cookie or little piece of chocolate with the order. And since, especially in company, the Dutch will seldom only consume one cup of coffee (that's just not gezellig!), it is very doubtful that a second cookie is not offered with a follow-up cup.

Koffie verkeerd, or "wrong coffee", is a typical Dutch way of consuming coffee: half automatic drip coffee and half warm milk. It's called "wrong" because traditionally coffee only contains a "wolkje", a small cloud, of milk.

Koffie Verkeerd
4 oz strong drip coffee, hot
4 oz milk
Sugar as desired

Warm the milk to the point of boiling, and add to the hot coffee in the cup. Stir. Serve. With a cookie. Or better, make it two!



10 comments:

  1. I live in a small community settled by the Dutch in the United States. When I moved here in the 1970's the ladies of the neighborhood would get together for coffee at 10 most mornings. Now that most women work outside the home, that tradition has been lost. Another coffee tradition from that era was for families to meet for coffee (and cookies or pastry) after the morning church service at the grandparents' house. Friends would again meet at each others' homes after the evening service for coffee...usually served between 9 and 10 p.m.

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    1. Kat, what lovely memories, and so sad that many of these traditions seem to have disappeared. We all live such busy lives anymore - but we miss out on much socializing (and cups of coffee!) Thank you for sharing, perhaps somewhere a (retired?) group of ladies will be encouraged to continue the tradition!

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  2. I love my coffee, but usually cut myself off around noon. I'm going to try Koffee Verkeerd tomorrow. Thanks for the post. I've been missing you.

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    1. Owww....thanks, B! I've missed the writing. Hope you enjoy that koffie verkeerd!

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  3. Hi Nicole - I'm really enjoying your page (which I just found) - I am Australian but lived in NL for several years, my husband is from Arnhem. I remember always ordering koffie verkeerd a) because of its cute name b) because it's the closest to the 'flat white' I order in Australia. Quick question/request: do you have a good boerenomelette recipe? You've got all the classics covered, this is the only one I couldn't see in your list! - Teresa

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    1. Teresa, a boerenomelet sounds great right now! Am going to put it on the list, will keep you posted. Thanks for the idea!

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  4. Hello, my first comment here. I am not Dutch but live in the Netherlands (it's been 6 years now). Your blog is a little bit helping me in seeing dutch food as worth consideration, i mean by that seeing behind the awful mass produced ready-made versions available in supermarkets. I like the historical details you always include. Thanks.
    I couldn't help but needing to comment with 2 remarks:
    1) i dont find it so sad that the tradition of 10:30 and 15:00 koffie is vastly gone. It is not because people are less 'gezellig' than before, it's just because the vast majority of people work at these times! The koffie tradition is still there, but only during weekends.
    2) i had to laugh when i read that Dutch people offering one cookie only with the coffie is untrue, just a rumour. well, that's exactly the problem: only ONE cookie. and you may get a second cookie ONLY IF you get a second cup of coffee. When we visit my in-laws, the cookie jar never gets on the table: we are served one cookie with one cup. that's it. When i have guests and serves them tea/coffie, the cookie jar stays open on the coffee table, and is passed around several times. ;-)

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    1. Egeltje, thank you for your remarks! It looks like we have such a different experience: in all the years I lived in Holland I have never had anybody shut the trommel on me. Maybe it's more of a generational/regional trait, but fortunately one that neither you nor I perpetuate. Long live the open cookie jar! Thanks for stopping by :-)

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    2. Sweet... Long live the open cookie jar!!!!

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  5. When I was growing up, my mother made koffie in a Pot (like a teapot) with a filtered container for ground coffee with was topped by a filter for boiling water. Do you know this method? It has taken me over 40 years to find one but now I'm not sure any more just how it is done. Can you help with this? Or can you possible steer me to someone who can? Some friends of mine still speak fondly of that coffee and I remember it very well too...drinking it, that is. Making it? Not so much. Thanks in advance for your help.

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