Cheese, spice or egg: what goes in your coffee? We search the world to find out who makes the best coffee
Coffee has grown to become one of the most world’s popular drinks. In fact, coffee is so popular that even the US and the UK – two countries that are coffee hotspots – sit at a paltry 26th and 45th respectively on the list for countries that drink the most coffee. They’re topped by the likes of Finland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and the Netherlands. While there’s an undeniably European flavour to those top coffee consuming countries, the biggest coffee producing countries are much more diverse – including Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Honduras.
So with all of these different cultures having different relationships to coffee, it’s only natural that they all have their own ways of making it too. In this article, we’re going to look at three distinct example of how coffee is made around the world.
As the Finns are undeniably the world’s biggest coffee drinkers, consuming 12kg per capita annually (a whopping 2.1kg more than Norway in 2nd place), we start with ‘Kaffeost’.
Perhaps it’s something to do with Finns consuming so much coffee that they needed to shake it up, perhaps it’s something else, but Kaffeost means ‘coffee cheese’. It’s an espresso coffee with chunks of cheese in it. Yes, we’re not kidding.
Cheese curd known as ‘juustoleipä’ (or Finnish squeaky cheese) is cut into little chunks or squares, placed into espresso cups and then covered in hot coffee. It apparently makes the coffee sweeter and is enjoyed alongside a serving of biscuits.
The Finns are known for valuing stoic determination – evident for anyone who has heard of the Finnish concept of ‘Sisu’ or has followed Kimi Raikkonen’s Formula 1 career – so perhaps Kaffeost is a fun relief? Whatever the case, the Finns love Kaffeost and, no matter what you think of coffee-covered cheese, it’s hard not to appreciate this inspired idea.
Vietnam: Cà phê đá
Moving from one of the biggest coffee consumers to one of the biggest coffee producers, Vietnam’s most famous traditional coffee is known quite simply as Vietnamese iced coffee or cafe da in the native English world. Cà phê đá is an iced coffee that uses dark roasted coffee – grown in Vietnam – that’s ground medium or coarse.
So far, so conventional. But here’s where things take a turn: the coffee is brewed via a French drip filter into a cup of condensed milk, alongside some ice. Not only is it very strong, but it’s also very sweet. This has become much more of an international hit due to many Vietnamese people still preferring tea. Vietnam’s relationship with coffee is more producer than consumer, with the coffee export industry credited with drastically reducing poverty levels in the country.
Nevertheless, Southeast Asia has many other fascinating and flavoursome coffees. These include Kopi in Malaysia and Singapore – known locally as the ‘poor man’s drink’ and brewed in a sort of sock – and Vietnam’s own Cà phê Trú’ng – an egg-based coffee topped with a creamy raw egg mix.
Our next coffee comes from a nation that is both the biggest exporter of coffee and one of its biggest consumers: Brazil. However, it should be important to clarify that it is one particular type of coffee that most Brazilians consume: Cafezinho.
Cafezinhos are incredibly popular with all Brazilians and tend to be drunk all the time – they’re even served to children at school. These small cups of espresso are packed with a strong blend, sweetened and served black. In fact, the expectation of sweetened coffee is so much in Brazil that the coffee is often brewed with the sugar!
Cafezinhos are an expectation and way of life in Brazil for those tending to guests or offering hospitality, and the drink has been the backbone of Starbucks’ growing success in the country.
Worldwide: Coffee is loved
While we had to end the list somewhere, it would feel like we’re providing a disservice to the rest of the world if we didn’t point out some of the most intriguingly innovative, beautifully brewed and downright tasty coffees from around the globe. As for which coffee is the best? There is no objective ‘best’ – just favourites. To work out your favourite, you’re just going to have to try all of them and come to your own conclusions.
Ireland: Irish coffee
A combination of coffee, Irish whiskey and sugar – topped with cream. It’s said to be the perfect solution to a particularly bad hangover, or a continuation of it.
Morocco: Spiced coffee
Spiced dark coffee that tends to be flavoured with the likes of cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg and cardamom.
Senegal: Café Touba
Named after the city of Touba in Senegal, this coffee is filtered with spices – such as Guinea pepper – to give it a kick that is enjoyed by those in both Senegal and, more recently, Guinea-Bissau.
Turkey: Turkish coffee
This UNESCO-protected blend is incredibly strong with the grounds at the bottom of a finished cup said to be legible by fortune tellers.
Predominantly made in India’s southern states, this coffee utilises a unique coffee filter – similar to drip brewing – and boiled, frothy milk.
Kopi is a full-bodied brew consumed in the Southeast Asian countries of Malaysia and Singapore. Less bitter and more aromatic than its Vietnamese counterpart, it’s always sweetened with canned condensed or evaporated milk.
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