10 Coffee Traditions Around the World

Coffee is for many (most?) of us an integral part of our daily lives. Yet, this drink is much more than a caffeine dose and every culture enjoys it in a special way. We decided to explore some coffee traditions around the world and selected 10 for you. Which one is the most curious? Which ones have you tried?

Austria: Kaisermelange

Austria boosts a very rich coffee culture, featuring many coffee recipes, from simple black coffee with a splash of milk (Kleiner Brauner) to the more interesting Kosakenkaffee, a small black coffee with sugar syrup, red wine and vodka. Our favorite is the Kaisermelange, strong black coffee with an egg yolk and honey. While stirring mixed honey and yolk, hot coffee is slowly poured on. A real energy boost! Tip: for an extra kick, try it in Vienna, where they also add a shot of cognac.

Kaisermelange, Austrian coffee

Picture by: https://www.ichkoche.at/

Australia & New Zealand: Flat White

Although the precise origin of this drink is still debated among Aussies and Kiwis, Flat White has gained a lot of popularity as an alternative to the Italian (perhaps too) foamy cappuccino. Another point of contention is about the differences between a Flat White and a Latte: we gloss over this discussion and leave it to baristas and cafes aficionados. Quite simply, a flat white is an espresso-based drink with a small amount of steamed diary milk and a thin layer of foam. It is a good compromise as it allows the strong taste of espresso to emerge while leaving a nice creamy feeling in the mouth.

Flat white, barista, Coffee

Picture by: Perfect Daily Grind

Argentina: Café Lagrima

Argentinians love their coffee and respect the different tastes people may have. While some may need a strong café (an espresso shot) or even a café en jarrito (a double shot espresso), others may be more “light weight” and prefer something milder. The Lagrima (“tear”) is an espresso cup filled with milk and a drop (a tear) of coffee (9/10 and 1/10 proportion).

cafe lagrima, argentina, coffee, milk

Colombia: Tinto campesino

If you’re going to Colombia, don’t expect to see “café” at every corner. What you’re looking for is tinto. Tinto is the simplest long black coffee, brewed by boiling ground coffee in a pan. But before you think Colombian coffee culture is boring, let us tell you there are a few varieties of coffee beverages and we selected the tinto campesino (“rural tinto”) as the most interesting. For this beverage, tinto is enriched with panela, unrefined cane sugar, and a mix of spices like cloves and cinnamon.

tinto campesino, colombia, spiced coffee

Cuba: Café Cubano

Coffee in Cuba is a social institution, as opposed to many countries where it is just a shot of caffeine to keep us going. Café Cubano (that Cubans simply call espresso) is prepared with a moka, a stove-top coffeemaker originated in Italy. The first few drops of coffee coming out (the strongest) are immediately mixed to demerara sugar and, if this is done with enough energy, a thick foam appears. The coffee that has kept brewing is then poured over, so that the foam comes to the top. So simple yet so delicious!

cafe cubano, cuban coffee, creamy coffee

Picture by: Alora the Explora

Malaysia: Ipoh White Coffee

The name may trick you into thinking there is a special white coffee bean, but that’s not the case. White coffee owes its name to the roasting procedure. In fact, regular beans are roasted with either oil or margarine and no sugar, so that they become lighter in color. Afterwards, the beans are ground, and the coffee is brewed and served with sweet condensed milk.  

According to the most accredited version, this beverage was created in the XIX century in Ipoh Old Town, Malaysia, mainly inhabited by Chinese immigrants working in mines and foreign mining entrepreneurs. The locals, however, did not really like the taste of the coffee the Westerners drank, and tweaked the style by making it sweeter, creamier, and slightly more aromatic.

ipoh white coffee, malaysian coffee

Oman: Qahwa

Qahwa literally means “coffee” in Arabic, but this is not the usual black coffee you may be used to. Whereas every Arabic country has a specific brewing method, Omani qahwa includes unique flavors added to the coffee, such as saffron, rose water, cardamom, and sometimes cloves and cinnamon.

Qahwa is also used as a verb referring to inviting guests over for coffee, usually served with dates and other fruits, cakes and pastries. Indeed, the coffee culture in Oman revolves around hospitality.

Further, qahwa is believed to yield important health benefits, thanks to its detoxifying and anti-inflammatory properties.

qahwa, omani coffee, arabic coffee

Picture by: Oman Explorer

Senegal: Café Touba

This beverage has a distinctive spicy, peppery, and intense taste thanks to the mix of spices added to the coffee. Roasted coffee beans are in fact ground together with a mixture of Guinea pepper grains (called selim) and cloves. Once the coffee has been brewed with the powder, it is frothed by pouring it several times between two cups, so to incorporate air.  Sugar is added afterwards.

According to the legend, Café Touba was introduced by the founder of the city of Touba, a religious leader who used it in chanting sessions. Apparently, the coffee had healing properties for the stomach and against depression and asthma, but, most importantly, it kept those participating in the sessions awake. Now, this drink is still used in religious ceremonies, but it is also widespread in everyday life, most commonly sipped for breakfast and available at many street stalls.

cafe touba, senegal coffee

Picture by: Eat your World

Turkey: Türk kahvesi
The method in which Turkish coffee is prepared was awarded the listing in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, together with the fascinating culture around it.

This beverage is prepared in a cezve, a small pot with a long handle, traditionally made of copper. If desired, sugar should be added into the cezve, and never after the coffee has been brewed. Water and the corresponding amount of ground coffee are heated and, once the coffee comes to a boil, the cezve is removed from the stove just as the foam is about to spill. The drink is then served with a glass of water and something sweet.

Türk kahvesi, turkish coffee, cezve

Photo by: @gaziantepdeyince

Vietnam: Café Sua Da

From the Vietnamese cà phê nâu đá (“iced brown coffee”), this traditional beverage is prepared with Vietnamese-grown dark roast coffee brewed in a French drip filter. A quarter to half the amount of sweet condensed milk is then added, and the mixture is pouter over ice. The history of coffee in Vietnam traces back to the XIX century, when French colonialists introduced it for cultivation. The use of condensed milk was due to the low availability of fresh milk and it is now a tradition.

cafe sua da, iced coffee, vietnamese iced coffee

Picture by: Hoi An Now


Cover picture by: Cronenberg1978 on flickr.com

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