Coffee is almost universally loved. Since its energy-boosting properties were first discovered in the 15th century, coffee has spread worldwide. Along the way, countries have developed their own version of the beverage and customs around drinking it.
Sampling coffee varieties as you travel can be a fun way to experience different cultures around the world. In this guide, I’ll be outlining some of the most notable countries’ coffee culture and giving you some tips on drinking coffee in each region.
The United States may not be known for refined tastes when it comes to coffee, but it does have a unique coffee culture of its own. The drip coffee that pours freely into the carafes of offices and diners around the country is something you’d be hard-pressed to find in many other countries.
Coffee became the beverage of choice for many Americans after citizens revolted against paying British taxes on tea during the Boston Tea Party. As coffee cultivation expanded, American businessmen took advantage of the growing commodity, selling coffee to cowboys and miners as they moved out west. Today coffee is still a morning necessity for many Americans. It’s a morning necessity that, for some, lasts all day. You can just order a cup of joe at the local diner and keep ’em coming. It may not be fancy, but it is cheap and caffeinated.
Australia has cultivated a sophisticated coffee culture. Australian cosmopolites don’t merely consume coffee. They savor it. Unlike the drip coffee of American culture, Australian coffee culture is built around high-quality espresso beans.
Ordering coffee in Australia can also be a mite more difficult. A flat white is a good place to start. This Australian classic is made with a shot of espresso and a lot of steamed milk.
If you’re on the hunt for drip coffee, the closest thing you’ll find is a long black, made from a double shot of espresso and hot water. Australia prides itself on quality espresso drinks so feel free to branch out and try something new. It could end up being the best coffee you’ve ever had.
Turkish coffee is similar to coffee in the surrounding countries like Greece, but it is quite different from coffee in the western world. The difference begins with the grounds. Unlike the coarsely ground beans found in much of the world, Turkish coffee is made from finely ground beans. The ground beans are almost the texture of cocoa powder. The ground beans are boiled in a special pot with sugar and cardamom.
When ordering coffee in Turkey, make sure to specify how sweet you want it. You can order black coffee, lightly sweetened, medium sugar or very sweet. After the coffee and sugar are boiled, the concoction is poured into cups where it is allowed to sit for a moment to allow the grounds to settle.
Vietnamese coffee is famously strong. Most of the coffee served in Vietnam is grown and roasted in the country. The beans are roasted with butter for a rich, oily quality.
When the beans are ground, coffee is prepared in individual servings using a simple drip method. It’s a slow preparation method, but it produces a deep flavor. The flavor is made even more sumptuous by the addition of sweetened condensed milk, yogurt or egg whites.
If there is a country that is intrinsically linked with coffee, it has to be Italy. Coffee is practically sacred in Italian culture. Most of the coffee-based beverages that we are familiar with have their roots in Italian coffee culture. With such a storied history, it can be intimidating to order coffee in Italy. There are a few things to keep in mind that will smooth the process.
First, there are no size variations in Italian coffee. Don’t order a large cappuccino. Just order a cappuccino. Second, coffee shops are not places to linger in Italy. Most Italians will order at the counter and drink their espresso quickly before leaving the shop. There is usually a premium charged to sit at a table. Finally, keep it simple. Don’t try to order the same thing in Italy as you would in a Starbucks. Remember, a caffè is a shot of espresso, a macchiato is espresso with a dash of steamed milk, a cappuccino is an espresso with foamy steamed milk and an American is espresso with added hot water.
No matter where you go, you are almost guaranteed to encounter some version of coffee. Whether you find yourself in a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony or buying canned coffee from a vending machine in Japan, sampling the local coffee beverage of choice is sure to expand your horizons.