This Mexican coffee is spunky and spirited—it should come as no surprise that a group of women was behind it. During the Mexican Revolution of the 1800s, ‘Adelitas’ were women both fighting and helping soldiers on the frontlines. Among their many notable contributions is the invention of café de olla: a stamina-boosting blend of cinnamon, coffee, and sugar. Its name translates to ‘coffee of the cooking pot’ because it is brewed in one—few Mexican homes begin the day without putting up a stout, colourful ceramic pot of this elixir on the fire.
It is also absurdly easy to make: take two cups of water in a clay pot (or a regular saucepan), and add half a stick of cinnamon. Traditionally, this coffee requires piloncillo (raw cane sugar), but you could substitute it with dark brown sugar. When the mixture starts boiling, add ground coffee (Mexican or Latin American coffee tastes best). Stir, turn the heat off, and steep the coffee for five minutes. Pour through a strainer to serve. To experiment with this traditional recipe, add star anise and/or cloves. Or a drop of honey too.
This zesty, orange-flavoured Austrian coffee will make you forget your morning began in your kitchen with towers of dishes in the sink for company. Café Maria Theresia is your ticket to the traditional Viennese kaffeehaus, where waiters wear tailcoats and usher you to plush red velvet seats under twinkling chandeliers. Dissolve one tablespoon of sugar in three tablespoons of orange liqueur in a pre-heated cup or glass. Stir in about 250 ml. of brewed coffee, top it with whipped cream, and garnish with orange zest.
Café de olla, Mexico (left); Kaffeost, Scandinavia (right). Photos by: Leon Rafael / Shutterstock (café de olla), Onchan / Shutterstock (kaffeost)
In one of the lanes of the Old Quarter in Hanoi lies a skinny corridor, which takes you to Café Giang, but really is a portal to the city’s most ingenious concoction—egg coffee.
In the 1940s Vietnam milk was scarce commodity, so a bartender in Hanoi’s Sofitel hotel invented the coffee with egg yolk whisked in for creaminess. His son now runs Café Giang, a 74-year-old institution filled with little wooden stools, where patrons crouch over their tables, stirring cups of hot egg coffee placed in ramekins of hot water. The place also serves cold egg coffee.
To make the hot version, brew a cup of espresso (or Vietnamese coffee, if you a phin filter), and keep it aside. Mix one egg yolk, two teaspoons of sweet condensed milk, and whisk until it rises with a frothy, fluffy texture. Add a tablespoon of the brewed coffee and whisk again. Fill a ramekin (or any large bowl) with boiling water—this is so your egg coffee retains its temperature. Place a cup inside the ramekin, and pour the rest of brewed coffee. Top it with the egg mixture. Serve with a spoon.
Vietnam’s caffeine-fuelled experiments don’t stop at egg coffee. They raise the bar with yogurt coffee, a creamy beverage—like silk that you can sip. Take half a cup of plain yogurt, two teaspoons of condensed milk, and 200 ml. of espresso/black coffee. Whisk, pour over a long line of ice cubes, and marvel at how the tart, sweet, and earthy flavours meld in a glass.
Yogurt coffee (left) and egg coffee (right), Vietnam. Photos by: Emily Ku/ Shutterstock (Yogurt coffee), Ngoc Tran/ Shutterstock (egg coffee)
How many times have you wanted coffee and dessert—together? Germans know to fulfill this craving in style, in their biergarten or beer gardens—large outdoor areas packed with tables under shady trees, where beer, food, and coffee flow as freely as conversation. Recreate those coffee-laced summers at home by whisking coffee powder, vanilla extract, cream and sugar. Keep it aside. Now put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a glass, and pour some cold coffee into it. Top the glass with the whisked espresso-vanilla cream, and garnish it with a waffle cone wafer.
Now, hold back those quips for a moment. Yes, it’s unusual to pair avocado and coffee but wait until you sip this rich, smooth invention. Take a medium-sized avocado, remove the seed and add it to a blender with ice, a cup of strongly brewed black coffee/espresso, half a cup of sweet condensed milk, and two teaspoons of vanilla. Add some chocolate syrup if you like. And don’t forget to thank the Indonesians.
Es Alpukat or avocado coffee, Indonesia (right); Qahwa, Saudi Arabia (left). Photos by: Andrew Pradana / Shutterstock (Avocado coffee), Santosh Varghese / Shutterstock Nikoleta Vukovic / Shutterstock (Qahwa)
Coffee person or tea person? If you’re both—aren’t most of us?—yuangyang is the beverage for you. Popular among Hong Kongers, this is drink is known as kopi cham in Malaysia. Simmer tea and water, add condensed milk, and bring it to a boil. Simmer again for two-three minutes, and then add the same quantity of espresso or strong brewed coffee as the tea. Stir well, and you’ll be transported to the old tea houses of Hong Kong or the no-frills kopitiams of Malaysia.
Turkish coffee is less a drink and more an experience. Intensity is the hallmark of its flavour, and the copper cezve (pot) and fincan (cup) it is served in shapes your memory of it. Little wonder an old Turkish proverb proclaims that a cup of Turkish coffee is remembered for 40 years.
The beverage dates back to the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, but its place remains bolstered in the region’s identity till date.
Boil a teaspoon of sugar and a cup of water in a pan (Turkish coffee traditionally uses an ibrik (a copper pot with a long spout). Remove from heat and stir in a tablespoon of finely ground coffee beans and a pod of cardamom. Put it back on heat and let it boil until the coffee foams. Remove from heat and repeat the previous step. Pour the coffee into the cup, and let it sit until the grounds settle to the bottom. The drink you’ll sip is one whose fragrance lingers around the Bosphorus River, fuelling Istanbul’s colourful, open-air cafés, shaping the city’s days and nights.
Türk Kahvesi, Turkey (left); Pharisaeer Kaffee, Germany (right). Photos by: Godt, Nicole/ Stockfood/ Dinodia Photo Library (Pharisaeer Kaffee), Sarymsakov Andrey/ Shutterstock (Turkish coffee)
Believed to have been invented by the French soldiers in Algiers in the 1840s, Mazagran combines everything that has the power to kick-start the grouchiest of mornings—espresso, lemonade, and rum. Dissolve a tablespoon of sugar in two shots of espresso/a cup of black coffee. Let it cool. Then add some water, juice from half a lemon, and about 30 ml. of rum. Pour this mixture over a tall glass full of ice, and garnish with mint leaves.
For one morning, pretend you’re a Swede who loves to bob in an open-to-air hot bath tub, gazing at a frozen lake in the distance. Complete the picture and make yourself the region’s traditional coffee—it’s also popular in Norway and Finland—which is essentially cheese cubes floating in the brew.
Warm two litres of milk and some cream in a pot and bring it to 37 °C. Let it sit until it begins to curdle, and reheat it to the same temperature again. Bring it just under boil. Strain the curd with a cloth until you get solid cheese, and bake it at 180°C; it will develop a golden colour. Drop a few cubes in a cup, pour some freshly brewed black coffee, and relish this rare concoction.
Mazagran, Portugal (right); Maria Theresia, Austria (left). Photos by: Ekrem Yigit / Shutterstock (Mazagran), Lehmann /Koops/ Stockfood/ Dinodia Photo Library (Maria Theresia)
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is Commissioning Editor at National Geographic Traveller India. She loves stumbling upon hole-in-the-wall bookshops, old towns and collecting owl souvenirs in all shapes and sizes.
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