Espresso gained popularity after manufacturer La Pavoni perfected the machine in 1905. Forcing scalding water through fine grounds produces a concentrated brew with a layer of crema on the surface. At Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè near the Pantheon, Romans have sipped espresso since 1938.
The French introduced coffee to Vietnam in 1857, so this creamy drink is a vestige of its colonial past. Each cup is brewed with a single-serving metal filter (called a phin) resting on a cup that cradles spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk. The mixture is stirred and poured over ice. Try it on the patio at Trung Nguyen coffee, one of the country’s largest chains, overlooking busy Pham Ngu Lao Street.
In coffee’s country of origin, visitors can experience a traditional coffee ceremony only in private homes. It involves roasting the fresh beans over coals and brewing the grounds three times while burning incense. But modern Addis Ababa residents drink black coffee or even a macchiato at family-owned Tomoca in the bustling Piazza neighbourhood.
Sweden is one of the largest coffee consumers worldwide, possibly due to the tradition of fika. The daily coffee break paired with a snack can take place at home, at work, or at a café like Vete-Katten in Stockholm. Its cinnamon buns or award-winning semlor (buns filled with almond paste and whipped cream) pair perfectly with a warm mug of drip brew.
Black tea, a remnant of English rule in Hong Kong, is filtered through a cloth and combined with sweetened condensed milk and coffee to make yuanyang. Across the Pearl River Delta in Macau, World Record Coffee has served it for 45 years with a traditional accompaniment—charcoal-toasted bread drizzled with more of the syrupy milk.
Dating back to the 16th century, kaapi, or degree coffee has been the drink of choice in most of south India. Strong, sweet, and ever so light, Indian filter coffee is as much about preparation as it is about flavour. A strong decoction is brewed in a metal filter and then mixed with boiling milk. Then, it is poured from a height and cooled, and frothed with the individual flourish of the maker. The drink is served in a stainless steel or copper glass placed inside a davara (metal bowl). Try the version at any of the Adyar Ananda Bhavan outlets in Chennai.
Appeared in the April 2016 issue as “Caffeine Kick”.