Specialty Coffee Around the World

Specialty coffee means different things to different people. For some Americans, it’s nothing more than a quick gulp of liquid caffeine. Other individuals are genuine aficionados who love exploring barrel aged coffee, geisha coffee, and any other great single origin coffee beans they can get their hands on. Different brewing methods yield an even wider range of taste sensations. But the world of coffee becomes spectacularly varied once you start looking beyond national borders. Let’s take a quick tour of some of the planet’s distinct coffee cultures.

European Coffee Preferences

Specialty coffee

Each European nation seems to have its own ingrained specialty coffee culture. Italy, of course, is famous for bringing espresso to the world. Italians don’t linger with their espresso; instead, they down it like a shot of red-eye. Cappuccino is another famous Italian coffee drink — but unlike in America, where you can get a cappuccino anytime, Italians view cappuccino exclusively as a morning drink.

The French have taken coffee culture to great heights through its embrace of cafe society, an environment patronized by many of the nation’s greatest artists and thinkers. The coffee itself is less distinctive — and you may or not appreciate the French habit of “stretching” their coffee beans with chicory. The enormous size of morning coffee containers in France encourages the dunking of pastries; afternoon portion sizes are more modest.

Unlike the French, German coffee drinkers generally skip coffeehouses in favor of home brewing in the company of a few friends. But their Austrian counterparts in Vienna show great enthusiasm for highbrow public coffee culture, with a variety of specialty coffees served on silver trays with a glass of water on the side.

Asian Coffee Variations

When you think of Asian beverage culture, you might understandably think of tea instead of coffee. But did you know that the second biggest coffee producer in the world, right after Brazil, is Vietnam? Even if you normally prefer cold brew to iced coffee, you owe it to yourself to experience Vietnamese iced coffee, a strong dark roast brewed in the French press manner directly into sweetened condensed milk.

Hong Kong has its own fun coffee creation. Yuenyeung combines 7 parts black milk tea to 1 part coffee. Like Vietnamese iced coffee, this creamy concoction is on the sweet side.

African and Arabian Coffee Creations

Ethiopia has been called the “birthplace” of the coffee bean as we know it, and the Ethiopians take their coffee seriously enough to have developed a time-honored ritual around it. The ritual, which is typically performed three times a day, begins by hand-roasting the beans in a pan. The ground beans are then placed in a special pot for brewing, and the finished product is poured in a foot-long stream into each cup. (If you try this ritual with your best single origin coffee, you might want to practice with cheaper stuff to minimize waste from spills!)

Turkish Coffee

It’s impossible to talk about international specialty coffee styles without mentioning Turkish coffee. This classic creation uses the technique of boiling the ground beans in water, stopping a few times along the way to remove the mixture from its heat source to control the foaming that results. Because the grounds are poured right into each cup, where they settle at the bottom, a tradition has developed of reading the remaining coffee grounds, tea-leaf style.

Take Your Craft Coffee Subscription on a Global Adventure

If you’re getting high-quality coffees from Onyx Coffee Lab and other premium vendors through our craft coffee subscription service, you’re already starting to experience the sheer range and potential of coffee. Take the next logical step by learning more about these and other coffee cultures so you can explore a whole new world of coffee appreciation!

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