Coffee is a popular drink around the world with each country serving its own version. In many places, the local way of serving or consuming coffee is steeped in rich culture and tradition. Therefore, learning about the coffee culture of a country teaches visitors about the country itself.
These 10 countries have unique coffee cultures that are sure to excite travelers’ taste buds. Find out what makes them different and what drink to order when visiting for an authentic experience.
In Vietnam, coffee isn’t just a drink to start the day; it’s something people enjoy morning, at noon, and even at night. Vietnam has some of the best coffee in the world and offers two unique beverages every traveler should try while visiting. Vietnamese iced coffee consists of medium or dark roast coffee over ice, combined with condensed milk. It’s the perfect refreshment for a hot day.
Another unique coffee order that shouldn’t be overlooked when visiting Vietnam is egg coffee. This delicious, creamy hot drink is made by combining egg yolk with condensed milk to create a frothy addition to a cup of coffee.
Greece has incredible coffee culture and offers a unique taste for those who like to drink their caffeinated beverages hot or cold. Traditional Greek coffee is made with a strong brew using finely ground beans. The drink is unfiltered, so the grounds are at the bottom of the cup and there is a nice layer of foam on top.
For those who prefer an iced drink, the Greek frappé (also called a Nescafé frappé) is a must-try. This cold drink contains milk, sugar, ice, and instant coffee.
Sweden is an excellent destination for coffee enthusiasts, especially since Swedes have one of the highest levels of coffee consumption per capita in the world. Swedish people enjoy a practice called Fika, which refers to a coffee break where people gather and socialize over a drink and a bite to eat.
Swedish Lapland also has a unique coffee tradition known as Kaffeost. In northern Scandinavia, Kaffeost means “coffee cheese”. The name may seem strange to some, but it's common in northern Sweden to dip cheese into a cup of coffee before eating it.
Mexican coffee culture is not as widely known as some other nations’ traditions, but the taste is unlike any other coffee in the world. Mexicans enjoy the traditional beverage called Café de Olla, which is spiced coffee. It’s prepared in a clay pot, which is where the name comes from.
The coffee is sweetened with piloncillo, and then it’s spiced with cloves, star anise, and cinnamon. The cinnamon flavor comes through strongly when sipping a cup of a Café de Olla, making it perfect for a cool morning.
Indonesia has a true one-of-a-kind coffee experience for travelers to try when visiting Southeast Asia. Kopi Luwak refers to coffee made from partially digested beans that are passed by a civet cat. Among tourists, it has earned the nickname “poop coffee”.
The civet cat eats the coffee cherries and doesn’t eat the bean, so it poops the bean back out with an enhanced flavor.
The land down under has high standards for a cup of coffee, so travelers must see what the fuss is about when visiting. Australians have an abundance of locally-owned coffee shops to choose from rather than flocking to massive chains like Starbucks, as Americans commonly do. Instead, Australians enjoy specialty roasts in smaller sizes and are typically stronger than coffee in America. They also add fewer sweeteners.
When in Australia, order a flat white for an authentic taste of the local coffee culture. This drink contains two espresso shots with foam and steamed milk on top.
Italy is integral to the world coffee scene. It’s the birthplace of the cappuccino and the world-famous espresso came from Milan. In many ways, Italy is the coffee capital of the world so coffee connoisseurs visiting this beautiful country should get a taste of these beverages in their homeland.
When ordering a coffee in Italy, espresso is the default. If you ask for a cup of coffee, you’ll receive an espresso shot. People typically drink these right at the counter, like a bar, rather than taking a table. For breakfast in Italy, order a cappuccino and a croissant for an authentic experience.
France might not be on many people’s radar as a country with exceptional coffee culture, but it should be. The French are responsible for the delightful drink known as Café au lait, and every traveler should order this once while visiting Paris.
Café au lait is coffee with hot milk, which is different than coffee with regular milk. In France, they call that “white coffee”. Café au lait also differs from a latte because the ratio of coffee to milk isn’t the same. A latte has a 2 to 1 ratio of milk to coffee while Café au lait has a 1 to 1 ratio.
2 Costa Rica
Costa Rica is famous for its coffee beans, but that’s not the only advantage the country has in the coffee department. Costa Ricans enjoy a traditional method of brewing coffee called a chorreador. The chorreador consists of a sock-like bag that hangs on a wooden stand and allows hot water to pour through to a cup while filtering out the grounds. The classic method of brewing Costa Rican coffee is reminiscent of the North American “pour-over” coffee that has become popular in recent years.
Ordering a café chorreador while visiting Costa Rica is the best way to get a taste of what the local coffee culture is all about.
Turkish coffee bears many similarities to Greek coffee in how it’s made and the small serving size. However, the role of coffee in Turkish culture is more ritualistic and centers around friendship and hospitality. Freshly roasted, high-quality beans are ground to a fine powder and then added to a pot with cold water and sometimes sugar. The pot is placed on heat and brewed slowly, so a layer of foam develops on top of the coffee. The coffee is served with a glass of water and a piece of Turkish delight.
The ritual of brewing coffee properly is passed down through families, as are the etiquettes associated with this practice. For example, guests should drink from more elaborate cups than the host to honor them. Sitting down for an authentic cup of Turkish coffee when visiting Turkey will provide travelers with a whole new appreciation for the cultural and spiritual properties of the beverage.