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. European countries, in particular, regularly top the list of countries that consume the most coffee. In fact, the 2019 list shows that among the top 25 coffee-consuming nations, only four – Canada, Brazil, Lebanon and the United States – are outside of Europe.

The full list is as follows:

  1. Finland
  2. Norway
  3. Iceland
  4. Denmark
  5. Netherlands
  6. Sweden
  7. Switzerland
  8. Belgium
  9. Luxembourg
  10. Canada
  11. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  12. Austria
  13. Italy
  14. Brazil
  15. Slovenia
  16. Germany
  17. Greece
  18. France
  19. Croatia
  20. Cyprus
  21. Lebanon
  22. Estonia
  23. Spain
  24. Portugal
  25. United States

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 Ethiopia.

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 a few examples of how coffee is made around the world. As for which one is best? You have to try all of them and come to your own conclusions.

Finland: Kaffeost

As the Finns are undeniably the world’s biggest coffee drinkers, consuming 12kg (26.45 pounds) per capita annually (a whopping 2kg per capita more than Norway in 2nd place), we start with ‘Kaffeost’.

Kaffeost means ‘coffee cheese’, espresso coffee with chunks of cheese in it. The Finns are known for valuing stoic determination – evident for anyone who has heard of the Finnish concept of ‘Sisu’ (the art of inner strength) – so perhaps Kaffeost is a fun relief?

To make Kaffeost, 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 love of Kaffeost has spread over to Sweden, particularly in the northern part of Sweden, where the Sámi people make fantastic cheese using milk from reindeer to dip in the coffee.

Customers waiting to buy coffee in Helsinki, Finland
Customers waiting to buy coffee in Helsinki, Finland

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 Cà phê đá, an iced coffee that uses dark roasted coffee – grown in Vietnam – that’s ground medium or coarse. In English-speaking countries, it is quite simply known as Vietnamese iced coffee or cafe da.

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.

If you like a protein-rich version of Vietnamese coffee, head to Hanoi and seek out Cà phê Trú’ng, a type of condensed milk-sweetened coffee with a beaten egg yolk in it.

Vietnamese coffee
Vietnamese coffee

South Korea: Dalgona Coffee

If you have paid any attention to social media, you’re likely to have come across pictures of dolgona coffee or whipped coffee popping up in every platform. The BBC describes dolgona as “a cappuccino turned on its head, with the frothy coffee on top and the milk underneath.”

To make dalgona, you add instant coffee, sugar and hot water to a mixing bowl. You then whip the coffee mixture until it is light and fluffy – the hand-held electric mixer should hold stiff peaks when you remove the whisk.

You then heat the milk and pour it into a glass, before spooning dollops of the frothed coffee mixture on top.

Dalgona coffee
Dalgona coffee

Singapore & Malaysia: Kopi

‘Kopi’ and its many variations are hugely popular in Singapore and Malaysia. Authentic kopi uses Robusta coffee beans roasted with sugar and margarine – this gives the coffee a richer taste – before grounding into a fine powder.

To prepare, you put the coffee powder into a muslin bag and pour boiling water over it. You then transferred the filtered coffee between two large kettle-like containers a few times to aerate and cool it down slightly.

There are about a dozen variations of kopi. You can have it kopi-o-kosong (strong black), kopi-c (with sugar and evaporated milk), kopi-siew-dai (with condensed milk but less sugar), among others.

Kopi is often enjoyed with egg and toast in Singapore & Malaysia
Kopi is often enjoyed with egg and toast in Singapore & Malaysia

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.

A hawker selling café Touba in Senegal
A hawker selling café Touba in Senegal

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

This is dark coffee flavoured with the likes of cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg and cardamom.

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.

India: Kaapi

Predominantly made in India’s southern states, this coffee utilises a unique coffee filter – similar to drip brewing – and boiled, frothy milk.

 

Updated in September 2020.

 

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