The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

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Great coffee is an essential part of culture the world over. Here’s our guide to the brews to order, dependent on where you are – from Australia to Ethiopia via Turkey, Greece and Mexico.

  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Café Cubano – Cuba

    Also called a cafecito, a café Cubano is a Cuban riff on an Italian classic. To make it, a shot of dark-roasted espresso is brewed either directly onto sugar, or it is mixed and melted with the grounds for an intoxicatingly sweet – and caffeine-packed – cup. If you need a little milk with your coffee, ask for a cortadito.

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  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Türk Kahvesi – Turkey

    Traditional Turkish coffee, or Türk kahvesi, combines finely ground coffee beans and sugar, sometimes with a pinch or two of fragrant spices, in a cezve pot over moderate heat. The mixture is brought to a boil (sometimes repeatedly, depending on the method) and then poured into small ornate mugs. Though this kind of preparation is common in Turkey, it’s also the basic method for coffee drinks throughout the Middle East and parts of the Balkans.

  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Pour Over – Sweden

    In the Nordic Region’s most populous country, it’s not just about the quality of coffee you drink (hint: high) but the way in which you drink it, too. One of the most important Swedish rituals surrounding coffee is called fika, a regular coffee break taken with friends and family; and even during business hours – most workers take at least one break during a normal day. Often, two fikas are taken – one around nine in the morning and another at three in the afternoon. Most are paired with fikabröd, sweetened pastries.

  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Cafe Sua Da – Vietnam

    This classic Vietnamese drink is widely available throughout the world, but it’s an especially delicious treat to seek out while visiting Vietnam. Coarsely ground dark roast coffee beans are slowly strained through a traditional Vietnamese coffee press (known as a cà phê phin – consider picking one up so you can enjoy an authentic brew back home) and then mixed with sweetened condensed milk and plenty of cracked ice for an intensely flavoured, completely refreshing sip.

  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Mélange – Austria

    Coffee in Austria has no shortage of iterations. One of the most popular, however, is the Wiener (Vienna) mélange: similar to a cappuccino, the drink comprises of one espresso shot served in a large coffee cup, topped with steamed milk and milk foam. Want something a little more decadent? Opt for a kaisermelange, which consists of the requisite shot of espresso topped with a honey-egg yolk mix and whipped cream.

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  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Café Bombón – Spain

    A layered drink served in a glass, café bombón combines espresso and sweetened condensed milk. The coffee is typically poured in the glass first, and then condensed milk is added slowly to sink underneath it, creating two separate, distinct bands of colour. Don’t be afraid to mess up layers, though: they’re usually stirred together before consumption.

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  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Pharisäer – Germany

    Besides combining the triple threat of strong coffee, dark rum, and whipped cream, the Pharisäer comes with an amusing origin story: legend has it that long ago on the North German island of Nordstrand, a teetotaler minister attended a baptism. To keep the clergyman from catching on to the festive nature of the drink being served at the event, the rum and coffee mixture was “sealed” off with a layer of whipped cream. Alas, the deception didn’t hold, and once the minister discovered the ruse, he called out to the revellers, ‘Oh, you Pharisees’ – and thus, a great drink was born.

    The Pharisäer is a local specialty of Nordstrand Island in particular, but can also be found at restaurants and cafés all along Germany’s northern coast.

  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Flat white – Australia

    Flat whites are now popular worldwide, but drinking one Down Under (where they originated in the 1980s) is a rite of passage. Prepared by pouring foamed milk over a single or double ristretto shot of espresso, flat whites are similar in sound to lattes or cappuccinos, but its layers are what set it apart: with a high proportion of coffee to milk, the ‘thin’ layer of velvety microfoam is what comprises the ‘flat.’

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  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Espresso Romano – Italy

    When in Rome (or anywhere in Italy, for that matter) do as the Italians do – drink espresso standing up, and do it quickly. It’s not just about speed, though: your goal is to drink the espresso before the ‘crema’ – the creamy emulsion of the coffee’s oils that temporarily covers the espresso and locks in the flavours – disappears. Another helpful rule of thumb? Steer clear of ordering a cappuccino after 11am, as most Italians believe it will negatively impact your digestive system.

  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Indian Filter Coffee – India

    Also known as kaapi, the South Indian phonetic pronunciation of coffee, Indian filter coffee is made by mixing frothed milk with the decoction from finely ground coffee powder that is brewed using a traditional metal Indian filter. Once prepared, the coffee is usually served in a stainless steel tumbler and dabarah (container/cup) that is used to cool the coffee. Use your fingers to hold by the cup by its rim, and sip slowly.

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  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Cafe au Lait – France

    Like most exemplary French exports, café au lait somehow manages to be both exceptionally chic – and exceptionally popular. Contrary to popular belief, café au lait is most typically served with warm frothed milk on the side of a small coffee, as opposed to mixed together. Want to get a little of that je ne sais quoi? Dip a fresh croissant into your morning café.

  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Frappé – Greece

    In its typical form, a Greek frappé is a mixture of instant coffee, water, and varying amounts of sugar. The frappé is also sometimes served with a splash of condensed milk. Look for this popular drink at seaside Greek or Cypriot cafes, especially in the summer, and then choose your preferred level of sweetness: glykós (which appropriately translates as ‘sweet,’ with four healthy teaspoons of sugar), followed by métrios (meaning medium, with two teaspoons), or skétos (plain, made without sugar).

  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Cafè Touba – Senegal

    Cafè Touba can be found throughout Senegal, especially in the capital city of Dakar, at Touba stands. Cafè Touba is brewed with spicy Guinea pepper, a West African speciality that combines a black pepper-like heat with a fragrance similar to cardamom. Touba also comes with a generous helping of sugar, making for a wonderfully sweet (and spicy) cup.

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  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony – Ethiopia

    If you’re fortunate enough to be invited to an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, consider it a stroke of good fortune. Once there, expect to settle in for some social time. Utensils will be placed on a bed of scented grass, coffee beans will be roasted over an open flame and then ground by hand with a mortar and pestle, the grounds will be mixed with water in a traditional black earthenware vessel, known as a jebena, which is then set over a fire to boil. After the mixture starts to steam, coffee will be poured and distributed. Traditionally, Ethiopian coffee is served with sugar or salt and an assortment of snacks. If you’ve been invited into a home for the ceremony, keep in mind that manners dictate you should stay for at least three cups, especially since the third cup is considered a blessing.

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  • The best coffee around the world (and where to drink it)

    Café de Olla – Mexico

    Imbued with the aroma of cinnamon and piloncillo, an unrefined cane sugar that smells like molasses, a mug of café de olla is every bit as sweet and warming as it sounds. Look for this traditional Mexican preparation, typically served in red clay earthenware mugs, in cafés throughout Mexico.

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