Ever wonder how the locals take their daily coffee on the other side of the globe? From Vietnam to Cuba, the public’s favorite java drinks come in dozens of creative varieties, swirling coffee and milk, sugar and water into surprising combinations. Regional brews often mix flavor with tradition, elevating the daily cup into a beloved social ritual.
This week, we’re lingering over the menus of coffee shops worldwide for a demitasse of history and inspiration. In Turkey, where coffee houses first appeared back in the 16th century, it was once common for drinkers to flip their mugs and read fortunes in the leftover grit. Today, finely ground Turkish espresso is still brewed in time-honored ways, added to boiling water in a small copper pot and enjoyed unfiltered after a meal.
The sidewalk bistros of France may be known for the ubiquitous cafe au lait, but locals are ordering the cafe crème, an espresso-based drink with a large portion of steamed milk that could quench any cappuccino-lover’s thirst. Those who prefer their coffee dark and stormy opt for the cafe allongé, and get to savor a richer, denser take on the Americano.
In Vietnam, the preferred beverage is a slow-dripped, dark roast coffee cooled over ice that gets a syrupy punch from sweetened condensed milk. Introduced by the French in the 19th century at a time when access to fresh milk was rare, this popular drink is still widely served at Vietnamese restaurants and cafes.
The Cortado (it’s Spanish for “to cut,” as in diluting) blends equal parts fragrant Cuban espresso and warm milk for a perfectly balanced perk-up cup. But the traditional Cuban breakfast drink of choice is cafe con leche, an unsweetened espresso served beside a tall glass of steamed milk. Drinkers pour the espresso into the milk to their individual taste, and often sip the brew while dunking in a slice of buttered Cuban toast. Because there’s no wrong way to do it.
From Brazil’s velvety cafezinho, to India’s frothed-milk kaapi, to the chilly Greek freddo espresso, each coffee culture reveals a unique signature drink, transforming the simplest ingredients into divine refreshment. Start your own journey at home with Kahwa beans and make something craveable today.