There are many coffee traditions around the world. No matter if I’m traveling or at home, I’m always searching for the best cup of coffee. You can try different kinds of coffee and brewing methods as you travel. I suggest sampling coffee around the world as you travel to experience the local culture. Plus, it gives you that energy boost, it’s comforting, and it’s delicious.
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In my experiences, I’m thankful to have tried a brewed cup of joe from a few countries on this list. As for the rest of them, I hope to get my caffeine fix everywhere, eventually. Here’s some of the best tasting coffee in the world, where you’ll find it, and some of the coffee traditions surrounding them.
Coffee Traditions: Italy
In Italy, ordering a cup of coffee “to go” (or an Americano) is mostly reserved for tourists. To enjoy an authentic cup, you must order an espresso (a strong shot of coffee served in a small mug).
Drink it while standing at the café bar. You can get that quick jolt of energy and be on your way. Cappuccinos are only ordered in the morning and they are not consumed later in the day. Learn more about coffee in Italy in this guide to Naples coffee culture.
In Rome, you can take this half day espresso and gelato tasting tour. It’s the perfect combination and this tour will take you to all the best spots.
The café au lait, or coffee with hot milk, originated in France. The French often begin their day with this sophisticated beverage, served in a wide mug. You don’t usually order it after lunch or dinner, but only in the morning. It’s also common to dunk a plain croissant into the coffee for breakfast.
Austria’s traditional drink is the mélange, which is like a cappuccino. It is espresso with steamed milk, topped with foamed milk and sometimes whipped cream.
More specifically, there are coffee traditions surrounding the Viennese Coffee House because it’s helped to shape Viennese culture. It’s even listed by UNESCO as an element of “intangible cultural heritage” and “where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill”. Not only do people consume coffee there, but patrons can sit for hours reading newspapers, writing, playing cards, or talking.
The coffee beverage, frappé, is popular in Greece. It combines instant coffee with evaporated milk and ice cold water. It’s a great drink to devour on a hot, summer day.
There are many more ways that people in Greece love to drink coffee. Learn more about Greek coffee traditions and how it’s some of the best tasting coffee in the world in this article about Greek coffee culture.
Best Tasting Coffee in the World: Ethiopia
Drinking coffee originated in Ethiopia. Traditional coffee ceremonies are a longstanding and distinguished part of Ethiopian culture. The process takes two to three hours.
The process involves roasting the beans, preparing the coffee, and serving it. Back in the day, “buna” (coffee) was prepared with salt or butter instead of sugar. There is a popular saying in Ethiopia: “Buna dao naw”, or “Coffee is our bread.”
In Mexico, café de olla is coffee brewed in clay pots with cinnamon sticks and piloncillo, the rawest form of sugar cane. The coffee is brewed in clay pots. Both the earthenware and the cinnamon sticks bring out more of that bold, coffee taste.
Ireland and Irish Coffee
Ever heard of an Irish Coffee? I know that you can order them at bars and restaurants here in Canada. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Irish Coffee originated in Ireland. It’s coffee and booze, together for the perfect after-dinner hot beverage.
In the 1940s, American tourists were visiting Ireland during the chilly winter season. Tourists invented the drink to stay warm. It’s a combination of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and whipped cream on the top.
Flat Whites in Australia/New Zealand
The coffee of choice in Australia and New Zealand is the flat white. It’s similar to a latte, but much more velvety in consistency. To make it, pour microfoam (steamed milk containing small bubbles) over a shot of espresso. There is a higher proportion of coffee to milk than a latte or cappuccino.
I had some of the most delicious coffee when I traveled to New Zealand. Just make sure you ask for a “long black” and not an “Americano”. They’re essentially the same thing, but it’s not called an Americano in Australia or New Zealand (I found this out right away when a barista gave me a little sass when I ordered it like that at the airport upon arriving in Auckland!).
There’s a proverb in Turkey: “Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.” Turkish coffee is so steeped in tradition that it was inscribed by UNESCO in 2013 on their Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
To prepare Turkish coffee, you must boil finely-ground coffee in a long-handled copper pot called a cezve. Boil the coffee with sugar and water, and then pour it into small cups. Serve the coffee after meals. It is often accompanied by chewy Turkish candies.
I’d absolutely love to take this half day coffee tasting and tour in Istanbul to watch the experts at work (and drink lots of coffee!).
Cubans love their coffee. Their preferred method is a strong brew, served any time of the day. Cubans mix their coffee with sugar while it brews, and serve it black. Then, they pour it into small mugs, and drink it while socializing with friends and family. Check out this beginner’s guide to Cuban coffee for more details.
Coffee, or kahwa, is spiced with cardamom in Saudi Arabia. Dried dates, served with the coffee, help to combat the bitterness of the coffee. Their coffee ceremony follows many rules of etiquette, such as serving the elders first.
Coffee of the World: Japan
First introduced in the 1960s, the Japanese flock to buy “Kan Kohi”, or canned coffee. You’ll find these small cans of coffee at the supermarket, the corner store, or even inside vending machines. You can buy both hot and cold drinks.
Coffee Culture of Vietnam
Egg coffee is growing in popularity in Vietnam. It is rich like a dessert. This coffee combines hot coffee with condensed milk, sugar, and an egg yolk. For this vegan girl, I’ll stick with an ordinary cup of coffee, thanks!
Coffee Traditions in Morocco
Morocco has a special spiced coffee called café des épices. To make cafe des epices, mix coffee beans and a blend of spices together. The spice blend includes sesame seeds, black pepper, nutmeg, cassia bark (cinnamon) and cumin seeds. You grind everything up, creating a fragrant and spicy brew.
As you can see, there are so many different coffee traditions and ways to make coffee around the world. Even though you always use coffee beans, there are many methods to brew and roast the beans. Whether it’s a traditional ceremony or method of brewing and serving, coffee is universally enjoyed by the people of so many nations worldwide.
At Home in Canada
At home in Canada, we love coffee just as much as anywhere else in the world. Whether it’s meeting a friend at a coffee shop for conversation and drinks, or enjoying a cup of coffee first thing in the morning at home, drinking coffee is part of my daily routine.
Are you more of a tea drinker? Check out our guide to the best tea of the world and where to find it, including tea ceremonies, tea tours, and how to enjoy the best tea at home.
More City Coffee Guides
Want to take a peek at more coffee guides from destinations around the world? We also have a great blog post about coffee traditions around the world and how to brew coffee when you’re traveling. Check out even more coffee guides filled with coffee shops that we personally recommend.