A Special Addiction: Coffee Culture in Portugal and Europe with Pascal Ansell - Context Travel

A Special Addiction: Coffee Culture in Portugal and Europe with Pascal Ansell

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Coffee’s role as a social glue is prevalent worldwide, is widely recognized as the world’s most popular drug. Yet it wasn’t always greeted with approval, and its consumption received several bans over the years in European history from religious and state authorities. Join Pascal as we examine the intoxicating events which led to its prohibition in 18th-century Prussia and Sweden, and its near-banning in a country we today strongly associate with the brew: Italy.

Plenty of time will be made to digest coffee’s history and sociology in Portugal, a country whose approaches to the drink are as distinct as they are surprising. Contrasting markedly with its neighbor, Spain, the Portuguese brew is quite literally more robust, and we will explore how Portugal’s dictatorship (1926 - 1974) promoted the robusta bean, thanks to the country’s colonial plantations in Brazil and Angola.


Finally, a sociological exploration of time and coffee will see us surveying the behavior surrounding the beverage. Europe’s attitudes surrounding coffee are a delight to investigate, and we will see how cafes are their own local receptacles of community, expressions of the everyday magic of life in the old world.


Led by local Lisbon expert Pascal Ansell, this interactive discussion will discuss coffee’s history, consumption, and influence on the broader world. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with a better understanding of the significance of this drink that we take for granted.

Born in Oxford, UK, to an Anglo-Belgian family, Pascal graduated with a first-class B.A. honors in English & Music after studying in Leeds and Berlin. Based in Lisbon, he is interested in the history of the commonplace elements within everyday life. He has published about and taught a wide range of cultural histories, from coffee to wine consumption in Europe, to medieval and early modern Portuguese history, as well as the 'permanent street art' of Portugal's tiles and cobblestones. Pascal also lectures on art theory and philosophy, developing concepts surrounding 'sub-realism' and aesthetically-engaged mysticisms. He has performed across Europe and released music under various labels in the UK, Poland, and Portugal.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.