Insights

How to Travel the World and Drink Coffee Like a Local

These days, coffee culture is pretty much inescapable—specialty shops abound, along with gimmicky new spins on the age-old, ceremonial shot of caffeine (seasonal pumpkin spice latte, anyone?). Whether you prefer a black cup of joe or a super sweet espresso concoction, there’s no shortage of options. And those options look—and taste—different depending on where you get your daily grind. Read on to see how people all over the world get their coffee fix.

Turkish Coffee | Turkey

Popular in Indonesia, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and of course, Turkey, Turkish Coffee is made using unfiltered coffee. Roasted, finely ground beans are simmered in a pot—with or without sugar—and served, grounds and all. With this preparation, the grounds settle at the bottom of the cup the coffee’s served in, making for an intense tasting brew that imparts a touch of pleasant texture to the tongue.

Cafe au Lait | France

French for “coffee with milk,” Cafe au Lait is just that: coffee with milk. However, the “lait” is usually steamed or at least heated before it’s mixed with coffee. And this simple preparation is not specific to France: in Spain it’s Cafe con Leche, in Brazil it’s Café com Leite. In parts of Switzerland, an inverted iteration of Cafe au Lait is made: instead of steamed milk over coffee, coffee is poured over a milk base. And in New Orleans, Cafe au Lait is prepared with coffee and milk that’s not just steamed but scalded, and served with a dash of chicory.

Flat White | Australia/New Zealand

The Flat White has seen a relatively recent surge in popularity, but Aussies and Kiwis have been enjoying the drink for years. (It’s said to have been invented by New Zealander, Derek Townsend.) So, what is it exactly? Though it’s made with espresso and steamed milk, the Flat White isn’t exactly a latte. The biggest differentiator between a latte and a Flat White is the foam—the Flat White has less foam than a typical latte, and less volume overall, but it’s still a creamy mix of espresso and steamed milk. Another way to tell a Flat White from a latte? The presentation. While lattes are generally served in a glass (unless you get them to-go, the go-to for most Americans), Flat Whites are served in a ceramic cup.

Ca Phe Sua Da | Vietnam

A version of Vietnamese iced coffee, Ca Phe Sua Da is made with dark, robust coffee and sweetened condensed milk. This popular drink’s decadence is due largely to the sweetness of the condensed milk, which is usually added in a quantity that’s less splash and more, well, pour.

In Spanish, “cortado” derives from the verb “to cut.” And when it comes to coffee, the Cortado consists of espresso “cut” with warm milk to balance the acidity of the drink. Unlike the macchiato, which is made with just a spot of milk foam, the ratio of espresso to milk is about equal when it comes to the Cortado. In essence, it’s espresso with a dash of warm milk.

Café de Olla | Mexico

A traditional coffee drink in Mexico, Café de Olla translates to “Pot Coffee” and is usually prepared in a clay pot (hence the name). Café de Olla is typically made with ground coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo sugar from Mexico. The drink is sweet and earthy—and in some rural parts of Mexico, the coffee is consumed unstrained, so the grounds add to the earthy taste and mouthfeel.

Espresso Romano | Italy

Hailing from Italy, the Espresso Romano serves up a shot of espresso (sweetened or unsweetened) with a slice of lemon. The lemon isn’t submerged into the espresso itself, but rubbed along the rim of the cup. This creates a tart contrast that draws out the sweetness of the espresso.

Kaffeost | Finland

Perhaps the most unusual coffee drink on this list, Kaffeost is made by pouring hot coffee over a few pieces of cheese. Yes, cheese. The recipe traditionally calls for Finnish squeaky cheese—or bread cheese—which lends a rich, tiramisu-like flavor to the coffee. Added bonus: once the coffee is drunk, there’s cheese waiting at the bottom of the cup.

Buna | Ethiopia

Buna isn’t just a type of coffee—it’s an Ethiopian coffee-making ceremony. Coffee beans are roasted, ground, and brewed during the ceremony, then three cups are enjoyed in the company of those present. “Abol” is the first cup, “Tona” the second, and “Baraka” the last. Each cup can be enjoyed with either sugar or salt, but milk is rarely added.

Egg Coffee | Vietnam

Sweet, decadent, and yes, made with egg, this coffee drink is a Vietnamese staple. Traditionally made with coffee, sugar, condensed milk, and egg yolks, the drink is a hybrid of egg cream and a (sweet) cup of joe. Like Kaffeost, egg coffee is said to have a tiramisu-like taste.

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