Learn about 20 countries in their unique ways of preparing and/or drinking coffee. One or more of these may inspire you to try something new.
Brazil is 10th in terms of consumption per capita because now and for the last 150 years has been the world’s largest producer of coffee. It is the national beverage. Cafezinho, or coffee, is a synonym for welcome in the country. It is a strong and dark coffee served with lots of sugar. Café com leite is a double strength coffee served with plenty of hot milk, the morning preference. If you are offered a cafezinho your host will not accept no for an answer.
There are two types of coffee fanatics here in the US. There are the fancy coffee drinkers seen at Starbucks with the espresso, caramel, whipped cream, and other syrups and fancy ways of steaming milk. Then there are the “gas station coffee” drinkers, the tea-colored brew that sits for hours behind the counter of the roadside diner. Every so often you may find “old-fashioned drip coffee,” listed on a menu at the occasional bakery café. For something strong and simple there is the Americano, which is hot water and a shot of espresso.
The birth of the espresso machine happened in Italy. You can enter almost any establishment from a bar to a small mom-and-pop café and order a creamy brown-black shot of espresso. When milk is added Italian coffee drinks become even frothier and creamier.
The heart of coffee country and native homeland to Coffea genus. Ethiopians have been drinking coffee for more than 1,000 years! Coffee (or buna) is served in a traditional table-side ritual transforming the beans from raw red cherries into a steaming hot drink right before your eyes.
The process can last more than an hour as your host toasts, grinds, and boils the coffee before they serve it to you. The coffee is brewed with a range of spices and flavors like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, honey, or butter to give it a richness and unique flavor.
Most coffee places are called “Café Bar,” where you will find the place already full at 6 a.m. with many taking their coffee while standing at the bar and with a hand in their pocket. To order a coffee with milk, ask for a Café con leche, not a latte. Coffee is meant to be quickly drunk there, so be wary as long sit-ins are a foreign idea in many parts of Spain.
Did you know that Canadians consume the most coffee per capita of any country outside of Europe? 88% of Canadians say they drink at least one cup of coffee per day. Aside from beer, the national drink of Canada is known as the Double Double (thanks to the Tim Horton’s coffee chain). It’s a cup of coffee containing two creams and two sugars.
Turkish coffee house culture goes back as far as the 1500s. True Turkish coffee is served in espresso-like cups and is a strong, thick, gritty, and tar-black juice. It’s typically served with the grounds settling at the bottom of the cup. It is almost always served sweet and is surprisingly hard to find. The grounds can be used to tell your fortune just like tea leaves (if you remember not to toss them out). In Istanbul, espresso and associated drinks are commonplace while the countryside prefers 3-in-1 packets of instant coffee, sugar, and powdered milk.
Frappe coffee, or Greek frappe, is the favorite coffee drink in Greece. Made from instant coffee (generally spray-dried), sugar, ice cubes, and water, the Greek frappe is a foam-covered iced coffee. It can be taken with or without sugar. On a warm summer day, the ice is the quintessence of a frappe.
Yes, when one thinks of Ireland, one thinks of alcohol. Therefore, one may not prefer the taste of Irish coffee. Invented in the 1940s, Irish coffee is a cocktail served in bars and restaurants worldwide. Traditionally served after dinner, the drink contains hot coffee, whiskey, sugar, and whipped cream.
Coffee drinking arrived in Vietnam with the French in the 1800s. Fresh milk was not available, so the café au lait took an evolutionary turn. The Vietnamese pour their coffee over sweetened condensed milk from a can and then serve it over ice.
Surprisingly, Colombia doesn’t have a big coffee culture, although their coffee is considered one of the best in the world. It is more of a family affair for coffee to be a part of breakfast (coffee with milk, same as a latte) but also as a beverage for cold weather. The typical coffee is Tinto— i.e. “inky water” or a long black.
Kopi Tubruk is the most popular brewed coffee in Indonesia. To make one, add two teaspoons of fine or medium ground coffee (sugar optional) into a cup, add boiling water, stir so the coffee grounds mix well, and then let it “cook” for a few minutes to let the coffee settle to the bottom. Enjoy! But leave the “mud” at the bottom; don’t drink it.
Did you know that Finnish workers are legally required to be given an official coffee break? This makes the country the only in the world with this law, since Finns are the 2nd biggest coffee drinkers in the world. The most popular coffees are very lightly roasted, but medium and dark are still available.
Coffee houses stay open late in Austria as elaborate and elegant cafés are a huge part of its cultural heritage. Their fresh coffee served with steamed milk topped with frothy milk foam is often referred to as a wiener mélange.
Japan is a fast-paced culture and they have the coffee to match, specifically from a vending machine. Canned coffees served hot or cold are found on every street corner for a few yen. Make sure you know what you’re getting as they can come with or without milk and sugar.
The official caffeinated drink of Mexico is café de olla, traditionally served from a clay pot (hence the name.) It is a dark roasted coffee filtered with a fine strainer or cheesecloth, served with piloncillo, an unrefined brown sugar with a smoky caramel flavor. For added flavor, it is common to enjoy with a cinnamon stick.
The morning coffee is practically a religion in Cuba, specifically of a leisurely event spent socializing with family and friends. Cuba’s sweet coffee is a Café Cubano (caficito), espresso brewed with sugar, while their non-sweet is a Coradito, espresso topped with steamed milk.
Unlike the American-sized portion, the French serve things in moderation. This means when you order your café au lait, strongly-brewed espresso with steamed milk on the side or in the cup, it will be a smaller sized cup.
There have been many arguments about which country created it, but New Zealand loves to enjoy their flat white: one third espresso, two thirds steamed milk, and a touch of froth. Or if you prefer, have a short black (shot of espresso) or long black (like an Americano).
A Bica is a shot of tart espresso served in a demitasse cup (espresso cup). The Portuguese like their coffee strong and cheeky. Cheeky, because the drink is named from the acronym of “Beba Isso Com Acúcar,” which literally means “drink this with sugar.”
Now you know how differently we all take our coffee! How do you enjoy your daily cup?
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