By Briana Seftel
There may not be a more culturally unifying drink than coffee. Coffee lovers can be found everywhere from Vietnam to Colombia, while the humble bean takes on many different forms. If you consider yourself a fan, check out how these ten countries drink their coffee.
Un caffè, per favore? That’s a phrase you’ll hear a lot in Italy, where drinking espresso is practically a religious experience. A single espresso is known as un caffè, and Italians love their tiny but mighty coffee in the morning or afternoon. If you really want to look like a local, order it loudly and sip it quickly while standing up. In Rome, the drink to try is Espresso Romano, which is a shot of espresso served with a slice of lemon.
France: Café au lait
As fancy as it sounds, a café au lait is simply coffee and hot milk. Many French begin their day with this piping hot drink, served in mugs or bowls wide enough for dunking baguettes or croissants. It’s similar to a latte, but instead of espresso, a café au lait is made with regular coffee. In France, you may get the coffee and milk separately to add yourself.
Despite producing some of the best coffee in the world, much of the good stuff gets exported to the U.S. and Europe, leaving subpar product in Colombia. Regardless, you should definitely try a tinto while you’re there, which is the most popular way Colombians drink their coffee. This dark, super sweet coffee can be found from street carts to roadside cafes. If you really want to try premium beans, head to the Zona Cafetera and visit a finca, or coffee plantation.
Australia: Flat White
Aussies love their flat whites, which are basically lattes but with a very thin layer of microfoam. While the origins of the flat white remain disputed (New Zealand also claims to have invented the drink), it’s no secret that the flat white has gained an international reputation. Even Starbucks sells it!
Southeast Asia: Kopi
Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia all love their kopi, which is the Malay word for coffee. You can’t visit these countries without patronizing a kopitiam, a traditional coffee shop serving light snacks and a variety of coffee drinks like kopi o (hot black coffee with sugar) and kopi si peng (iced coffee with evaporated milk and sugar).
When a country has entire pastries centered around coffee, you know their coffee has got to be good. In Sweden, part of the daily ritual is fika, which is a short coffee break at 9am and again at 3pm. It’s meant to be shared with colleagues, friends or family, and is accompanied by a variety of sweet pastries known as kaffebröd (coffee bread). While you’ll find everything from lattes to cappuccinos, the Swedish standard is a classic black drip coffee.
Served after meals or with dessert, Turkish coffee is a thick, strong and sweet cup of joe. Very fine coffee grounds are brewed in a copper pot called a cezve, sometimes adding in spices like cardamom. But coffee in Turkey isn’t just for enjoying; it’s part of the traditional wedding custom, and used for fortune-telling with leftover grounds at the bottom of the cup.
You can’t mention coffee culture without Finland, which happens to be the country that drinks the most coffee per capita. Maybe it’s because they get so few hours of daylight and need to stay awake or maybe they just like the taste - either way, the Finns love their kahvi! One of the most unique ways to drink coffee in Finland is kaffeost, which is coffee poured over cubes of cheese called juustoleipä.
Coffee purists may stick their noses up over this frothy delight made with instant coffee, evaporated milk and ice-cold water. The drink’s creation was actually an accident; a Nescafé representative wanted to make instant coffee but didn’t have any hot water, so he instead mixed cold water and ice cubes in a shaker and voila, the Greek frappé was born. Coffee drinking in Greece isn’t just part of the culture - it has also been linked to longevity on the island of Ikaria, where residents often live well past the age of 100.
Vietnam: Cafe Sua Da
One of the most popular beverages in Vietnam is cà phê sữa đá, or Vietnamese iced coffee. Made by brewing concentrated coffee over condensed milk, the drink is the perfect refreshing drink for hot days. Coffee was first introduced to Vietnam in 1857 by a French Catholic priest, and the country soon became one of the biggest exporters of coffee. As fresh milk was in short supply, condensed milk became the popular add-in to this now internationally- known coffee drink. Adventurous drinkers can try egg coffee in Hanoi, which is brewed coffee with milk and an egg yolk.
Considered the birthplace of coffee (known as buna), Ethiopia has a coffee culture that is unparalled from any place else on earth. Gathered in a special part of the home, green beans are roasted right before your eyes and brewed in a jebena, or clay coffee pot. These coffee ceremonies can last nearly three hours, and sometimes occur multiple times a day. If you really want to get to the heart of coffee, there's no place like Ethiopia.