18 Ways the World Drinks Coffee

Contributor
‘Joe’ has a lot of multicultural cousins

A black tie is simple hybrid of Thai iced tea and two shots of espresso.

“Coffee is a language in itself.” That may sound like a quote from some bearded and bespectacled writer, but these words were actually spoken by the Hong Kong actor and martial artist Jackie Chan. And he’s absolutely right. Coffee is enjoyed in so many ways around the world, and in styles we Americans might never think possible. For example, have you ever thought of adding pepper to your coffee, as they do in Senegal? Here are 18 ways coffee is savored around the world.

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We began this list by expanding on a previous list, 9 Ways to Drink Coffee Around the World. Many of these coffees have been drunk for decades or even centuries, but we did some research to find out whether any innovative coffee customs have appeared in the past 10 years. They most certainly have, as is the case with Sweden’s bubbly kaffe tonic, which pairs espresso and tonic water. It’s better than it sounds! We also researched how countries that were not mentioned on the original list, like Cuba or Vietnam, drank their coffee, and discovered even more ways this energy-boosting elixir can be enjoyed.

In some places, like South India, when you ask for a coffee, the only kind of customization you are offered is sugar or no sugar. If you want something more specific, go to Starbucks. In Italy your options are a little wider, but again, any request for an added flavor will only result in a scowl. All this is to say that the way a culture consumes its coffee is a sacred ritual, and while you may not want to abide by some local customs, like eating moldy cheese or live octopus, you have no right to modify coffee to your particular taste — even if it has an egg in it. Don’t bother traveling if you can’t enjoy coffee the way the locals do.

It’s not just the ingredients that vary country by country, but also the time certain cultures drink coffee — many enjoy it after dinner — or the way they imbibe. For example, Italians almost always drink espresso standing up, while in Hong Kong people sit in coffee houses and socialize for hours over their drinks. Before you start planning a coffee-based journey, take a look at the many different coffee drinks of the world.

Black Tie (Thailand)

A black tie is simple hybrid of Thai iced tea, which consists of a spicy and sweet mixture of chilled black tea, orange blossom water, star anise, crushed tamarind, sugar, and condensed milk or cream, and two shots of espresso. The same drink with just a single shot of espresso is called a “red tie.”

Cà Phê Đá (Vietnam)

To make cà phê đá, literally "iced coffee," dark-roast drip coffee is poured into a quarter or half cup of condensed milk and then stirred and poured over ice. It was originally made with fresh milk, but due to the lack of fresh milk available in the later years of colonial-era Vietnam, condensed milk became de rigueur. We see this as the perfect blend of the condensed milk-heavy drinks you see most commonly in Asia and the dark roast coffee favored by Europe. 

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