Coffee is largely ubiquitous – culture around coffee can be found in even the most remote corners of our world. The traditions and customs of such communities have informed their own, unique coffee cultures. There are innumerable way to enjoy this bean brew, as found throughout the world. Take a trip with us to learn about coffee traditions from around the world!
India – Filter Coffee
According to legend, coffee made its way to India in the 1600s by a holy man named Baba Budan. He managed to smuggle 7 coffee beans from Yemen in his robes. Once planted, the plants flourished, therefore introducing coffee to India! Filter coffee is traditionally enjoyed in South India; it is brewed by using a two-part vessel called a filter. Pour hot water over the grounds in the upper chamber, then find your brew in the lower chamber. The coffee is then mixed with milk and sugar and served in a metal tumbler.
Cuba – Cuban Coffee
Coffee was introduced to Cuba in 1748 when Don José Gelabert started the first coffee plantation with beans from the Dominican Republic. Later, French and Haitian immigrants arrived and helped Cuban coffee farms improve their growing methods. Cuban coffee is made by putting sugar into the espresso cup or pitcher, pulling an espresso shot over the sugar, then stirring. The sugar caramelizes and creates a thick and sweet coffee that is served in an espresso or besito cup (besito translates to ‘little kiss’).
Mexico – Café de Olla
Traditional Mexican coffee is called Café de Olla (Pot Coffee) because of the clay pots in which it is brewed. The pot adds an earthy texture to the coffee, which is balanced by sweetening with cinnamon and piloncillo, a type of unrefined sugar. Coffee was originally introduced to Mexico in the late 18th century when the Spanish brought over plants from Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Mexico is now the largest producer of organic coffee in the world, accounting for about 60% market.
Vietnam – Cà phê đá
Cà phê đá translates to ‘iced coffee,’ but is commonly known in the states as Vietnamese coffee; it is brewed using a coarsely-ground dark roast coffee in a small French drip filter called a cà phê phin. This is a single-cup brew method, during which the coffee is typically brewed over condensed milk, then poured over ice. Why condensed milk, you ask? In the late 19th century, when coffee was first introduced to Vietnam, fresh milk was not readily available, therefore, condensed milk became the standard option.
Ethiopia – Coffee Ceremony
Ethiopia is considered the birthplace of coffee. Legend has it, a goat farmer named Kaldi discovered coffee after his goats chewed on the beans of a coffee plant, and became wildly energetic. Kaldi then took a coffee branch to a priest, who threw the “demon” plant into the fire, wherein the first coffee beans were roasted. The Ethiopian coffee ceremony can be up to 3 hours long. Green coffee roasts over hot coals, then each participant smells the roasted coffee’s aromatic notes. Afterward, the coffee is ground by a mortar + pestle and put into a boiling pot called a jebena. Once boiled several times, a filter is placed over the spout to prevent grounds from escaping while being served. This coffee is boiled and served 3 times and often is accompanied by a snack, like popcorn or peanuts.
Japan – Canned Coffee
Canned coffee first appeared in Japan in 1965, but the canned coffee craze was revolutionized in 1973 when a company called Pokka Coffee created a vending machine that could dispense hot and cold canned coffees. While canned coffees can be found in grocery and convenience stores, most sales come from the vending machines. Cans are still being dispensed with the option for either hot or cold serving, along with choices such as black coffee, low sugar, and the most popular option: milk and sugar.
Turkey – Türk kahvesi
Türk kahvesi or Turkish coffee is brewed in a pot called a cezve with finely-ground coffee, boiled water, and sometimes sugar. The coffee is served directly into the cup, unfiltered, where the grounds are left to settle before drinking. Until instant coffee was introduced in the 1980s, this was considered the only way to make proper coffee. Be prepared for a strong drink if you ever try it, for the Turkish peoples say, “coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.”
Thailand – Oliang
Thailand’s coffee drink is similar to Vietnamese coffee, as it is typically served with condensed milk and over ice. Oliang, however, uses a different method to prepare the coffee. Coffee grounds are brewed amongst a variety of ingredients including corn, soya beans, and sesame seeds. It brews in a cloth sock with a metal ring attached (called a tung dtom kaffee) and steeps for about 10 minutes before adding sugar and condensed milk, and serving over ice.
Senegal – Café Touba
Senegal’s traditional coffee drink, Café Touba, is flavored with Kimba pepper and cloves. These spices are roasted and ground with the coffee, then brewed all together by a filtered method, similar to drip coffee. The drink gets its name from Touba, Sengal’s holy city, and is traditionally consumed by the Islamic Mouride brotherhood. Consumption of Café Touba has increased in recent years, causing sales of instant coffee in West Africa to decrease.
Italy – Caffé
When ordering a coffee in Italy, just a head’s up that you will be served espresso. An espresso is made by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water through finely ground coffee. This brewing method produces a thicker coffee with greatly concentrated flavors. Espresso is often the base of other coffee drinks, including cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, and more. In 1884, Angelo Moriondo patented a steam-driven “instantaneous” coffee-making device, which came to be an early prototype for the modern espresso machine.
Ireland – Irish Coffee
Irish coffee is a popular cocktail that was invented by Joe Sheridan in the 1940s. When a group of American passengers arrived on a miserably cold winter’s night, Sheridan added whiskey to their coffee to help warm them up. To make a traditional Irish coffee, merely combine coffee, whiskey, and a spoonful of brown sugar. Top it off with a layer of cream; pour the cream over the back of a spoon to ensure that it floats atop the drink, as it is meant to be sipped through the cream.
Explore the world through coffee, then explore the best that American roasters have to offer with BeanGenius. If we missed any your favorite coffee traditions, please let us know in the comments!