The World of Coffee
Experience the Differences
The diverseness found around the world does not stop with language, fashion and customs. Food and drink change from border to border. In the United States, fried chicken, hotdogs, apple pie and spaghetti are some of the most common foods a person will be greeted with when visiting. Go one border south to Mexico and tacos, quesadillas, texmex become the norm. One border north of the U.S. and one finds themselves in Canada eating poutine, corned beef and cabbage. Though those same foods may be found in the U.S., they do not originate there and when experienced in the culture in which the meals hail from, the flavors are out of this world.
The same can be said about coffee. Coffee in the United States tastes far different than it does in Paris. Columbian coffee best experienced in Columbia is not going to taste the same as what is experienced in the United States. Visiting other cultures and countries is the best way to experience a large array of choices. However not everyone has the opportunity or even the funds to travel the world. This article is going to provide the reader with some examples of types of coffee that may be found all around the world. So, get the water ready and the coffee mugs out, it is about to get aromatic in here!
Coffee in the United States
As beverages go, coffee is probably one of the most popular drinks. Indulging in this drink can be experienced as either a cold drink, heated drink, sweet or savory. Coffee has also been experienced in desserts. Where it is being served can play a tremendous part in the flavor one tastes when drinking coffee. For example, in the United States well known as the Melting Pot of the world, one can experience a vast array of options when ordering the caffeinated beverage at a café. From the traditional black coffee which is going to most likely be the roast of the day at said café with no sweetener or creamer to a Macchiato originating from Italy consisting of espresso with steamed milk as a topper, the coffee drinker is able to order nearly any type of coffee they desire in most café’s in the United States. But wouldn’t it be something to drink a cup of brew that is originated from another country in its traditional form?
Italian coffee is typically brewed with Arabica beans (lifeinitaly.com). Arabica beans contain less caffeine and are less acidic. These beans tend to be more aromatic than the Robusta bean and are considered to be a better bean by many coffee drinkers. The Robusta bean may be blended in with the Arabic bean if a stronger caffeinated drink is desired.
Italy can claim parentage of many coffee beverages attempted to be duplicated around the world. Espressos in Italy may simply be ordered at a piazza as a “caffe”. This strong drink is served in a 3 oz cup with a rich froth, or crema, on top. It does not take long to drink down an expresso and is typically consumed by businessmen and women on their way to work in the morning. Order a Doppio and enjoy a double espresso! If energy is not forthcoming, a Ristretto may be necessary. This strong drink is an espresso with less water! On the other hand, if one is simply desiring the flavor but not the kick of energy that comes with a typical espresso, order a Lungo and the espresso is brewed with more water.
Italy gives the coffee drinkers of the world much to enjoy. Macciatos are espressos with a dollop of steamed milk and a cappuccino is an espresso with foamed milk and steamed milk! One thing is for sure, when enjoying an Italian coffee, do not expect it to be very sweet. These drinks tend to be on the stronger side and may contain milk but no sugar.
Robusta beans are well grown and cultivated in Vietnam. The weather conditions are perfect for this plant to thrive. As previously mentioned, the Robusta bean contains more caffeine. This gives the drink a stronger flavor and not everyone enjoys that. However, one of the more popular coffee drinks is Vietnam is the ca phe nau, meaning brown coffee, or ca phe sua, meaning milk coffee, depending on the area of Vietnam (lonelyplanet.com). This beverage consists of black coffee mixed with sweetened condensed milk served over ice but may also be enjoyed hot.
With the 1940’s brought a shortage of milk products to the country of Vietnam. Many began looking for alternatives to milk, one being the ever-mighty egg! A whipped egg yolk added to a cup of coffee brought about the ca phe trung, or egg coffee. Today with milk no longer being in shortage, many versions of ca phe trung have emerged, one including frothing the egg yolk with sweetened condensed milk and adding it to the strong Vietnamese brew. Some café’s have even been known to serve the drink with a sweet cookie for dunking!
Hanoi Vietnam is considered the hub of café culture. This is where one may experience some of the best opportunities to try a coffee originating from Vietnam. Remember that Vietnam coffee is prominently contrived of the Robusta bean, this means the drink is going to have a stronger taste as well as an abundance of caffeine. Take this into consideration when ordering, as some folks do not enjoy a strong coffee.
The French do not serve their coffee cold. Do not expect to get a cold brew, or sweet cold drink when visiting there. The coffee served in France is strong and hot. An example is the Café. This is a strong shot of espresso regularly served at the end of most meals. Unless otherwise specified, when a waiter asks if a café is desired after the meal, this is what is served (luxeadventuretraveler.com).
The Café Americain is the closest anyone will find to American coffee in France. It is brewed in a pot, but it is not regularly refilled as one would expect in a restaurant in the United States. If a refill is desired, another cup is ordered. And charged! If cappuccinos are a favorite, France’s version of the Italian drink is the Café Crème. This drink is served before 11 am only and is served in a bowl with a frothy topping of milky foam. Do not order this drink as a cappuccino. The request will be understood, but the cost will be that of a tourist!
The history of French Press coffee is a bit tricky. An Italian man by the name of Attilio Callimani first patented the device in 1929 (littlecoffeeplace.com). However, there is the question as to why it is called “French” press instead of “Italian”. The process was initially begun in France in the 1800’s by a man that decided to add a screen to filter out the coffee grounds when pressing down his coffee. This process became quite popular, but he never patented the process. Callimani came along made a few changes, patented the machine and is considered by many the first man to patent the French Press. Regardless of who is to be thanked for the machine, the drink itself is considered to be one of the richest and most flavorful coffee beverages to cross the Atlantic.
Some Like It Cold
Coffee is not always served hot. Many enjoy drinking a nice cold Frappuccino, or a cold brew. Frappuccino’s are a drink created and marketed by Starbucks. Though there are similar drinks available at other establishments, such as Dunkin Donuts’ Frozen Coffee, coming in flavors ranging from Butter Pecan, to Mocha. The Frappuccino hailing from Starbucks offers a variety of flavors as well. Though most would order this drink to cool down and have a kick of caffeine while doing so, Frappuccino’s may also be ordered sans the coffee. Parent’s making their regular trip to the café on the weekend with their children in tow may find themselves ordering a Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino for their little one!
Cold brew coffee is making its mark on the world. Many would argue that letting their coffee sit for an hour or so untouched is enough of a cold brew for them. Cold brew is quite different from coffee that gets cold or is poured over ice. Cold brew coffee is not exposed to heat (policygenius.com). Cold brew is made by steeping grounds, typically more than what a brewed cup would need, in a lower temperature water for a longer period of time. In some café’s one may notice a large glass contraption of dripping coffee on one of the counters. There is no steam being emitted; this is a cold brew station. Once ready to serve, this beverage is a bit stronger than the typically brewed coffee and is considered by many better served with additional water rather than milk if a weaker drink is desired.
Though this article is meant to provide a list of coffee beverages, it would be amiss to not mention one of the easiest desserts one can make in their own kitchen. The world has Italy to thank for Affogato. What is it? Essentially it is vanilla ice cream or gelato topped with a shot of espresso. In other words, it is a bit of sweet with a zing of bitter. The word affogato translates in English to “drowned”, which perfectly describes this dish. Simple and easy to make.
Iced coffee, Café con Hielo, Coffee on the Rocks, Coffee with Ice, however it is described, it is all the same. Coffee, typically espresso, with ice cubes. The Spanish introduced this cold drink as a means to having something with caffeine but nothing hot to drink.
Speaking of the Spaniards, they have gifted the world with their own variety of coffee beverages. Café con leche has its own following in Spain. Equal parts espresso and steamed milk. This fan favorite is enjoyed generally with breakfast and will last longer than a typically coffee. One will find themselves less likely to search for a snack between breakfast and lunch when enjoying a café con leche!
Those that like to drink coffee but do not fully enjoy the flavor of coffee may find they enjoy leche manchada. Manchada is translated to stained, and of course leche is milk. So, this drink is quite literally, stained milk. It is served as a cup of milk with about a half a shot of espresso. It gives the one drinking this the hit of coffee they desire without the full-on flavor of coffee(trevorhuxham.com).
A trend that has become a big splash in recent times that is similar to the leche manchada is the Dalgona Coffee. This drink consists of milk with ice cubes, and a topping of equal parts instant coffee, water and sugar. Some experimenters have even added a little vanilla to enhance the flavor of the topping. The idea with this drink is to mix the instant coffee, water and sugar until they become more of a pudding consistency rather than a froth. Once done drop a dollop of the topping to the milk and enjoy.
The Irish enjoy a good drink, as do many others. However, it is common knowledge that the Irish like to experiment with their foods by adding a touch (or more) of whiskey to their otherwise flavorless dishes. Coffee is not to be excluded from this experimentation. Irish coffee consists of coffee, sugar, and yes, Irish whiskey. Top the drink with some whipped cream and a sweet, yet quite alcoholic drink, may be enjoyed!
Cold brew is another favorite in Ireland. Though the weather there would not seem to incite a big draw for the beverage, the moment the sun comes out, the people of Ireland find themselves reaching for the cold brew over a hot cup of coffee. Typically served as a sweet drink with creamy milk, there are many different options to choose from at a café in Ireland. Each café, or bar in most cases, has their own formula when it comes to cold brew coffee. At Joe’s one can experience a choice of either Tanzanian Majinja filtered coffee, or a cascara and hibiscus infusion. Shoe Lane on Tara Street in Dublin boasts a canned cold brew that many describe as similar to Guinness (thetaste.ie)!
Ireland has added their own take on a popular Australian beverage, the Flat White. This drink is traditionally an espresso and hot steamed milk. The froth is removed giving the drink its name, Flat White. The Irish tossed their Flat Whites in the chiller to make it an enjoyable cold drink, known there as Iced Flat White!
South America is to be praised with producing the majority of coffee served today. The climate in South America is most favorable for the beans to grow. With that being said, South America is also one of the best places to find a variety of coffees to enjoy. From the popular Columbian coffee to the well sought-after Ecuadorian coffee, one cannot go wrong by coffee grown and cultivated in South America. The beans tend to have a sweetness to them and well-rounded taste. This is the most common coffee found in the United States (thekitchn.com).
Relax and Enjoy
It is easy to see that each corner of the world has their own version and twists on coffee. Some are very similar to others and some are borrowed and adjusted. As a coffee drinker, finding a café or bar in the country they are visiting to order a cup of the brown brew would seem to be high on the list of to-do’s. The idea with any food or beverage is to experiment. One will not know what they will discover unless they play with their food, which is of course going against everything parents tell their children growing up!
Whether it is a hot drink or a cold drink, a coffee-based drink may be enjoyed nearly anywhere one visits. When ordering the drink in a foreign area, consider asking the wait staff for their own favorite drink. Be sure to share with them whether a strong caffeinated drink is desired, or a weaker drink. If coffee is desired, but not necessarily the coffee flavor is enjoyed. And remember, not all drinks are made equal. Consider the location being visited. If in Ireland, be prepared to have a bit of whiskey in the cup. If in Vietnam, expect to have a strong brew made with Robusta beans. If in America, be prepared to describe exactly what is desired.
Whatever the choice, wherever the location, the important thing is to relax and enjoy. Coffee drinkers around the world exalt and raise their mugs to the mighty coffee bean. Whether as a morning wake up call, a mid day pick me up, or an evening cool down, coffee is without a doubt a favorite beverage all around the world.