In Colombia, traditional hot chocolate is made in a special metal pot called the chocolatera. While chocolate caliente con agua and chocolate santafereño, made with water and milk, are classics, the chocolate caliente con leche made with coconut milk is pure indulgence. Colombians take the decadence one level higher by dunking cubes of white cheese into the frothy concoction and eating them partially melted.
Before the rise of tea and coffee culture, a fragrant, creamy breakfast beverage called salep or sahleb was popular in the Ottoman Empire. Dried orchid root flour (sahleb) was added to hot water, sometimes milk, to make a thick potion. This was sweetened and often laced with orange flower or rose water, and sprinkled with cinnamon. Cafés across Istanbul still make it in the traditional way.
Grape-coloured, thick, and creamy api morado is Bolivia’s most popular breakfast drink, most often served hot. This smoothie-like beverage is made with purple corn flour, sugar, and water, and spiced with cinnamon and cloves. Api blanco the white corn version is just as sweetly delicious.
Costa Ricans love to begin the day on a sweet note with sugary agua dulce, instead of coffee. Scrapings of tapa de dulce, brown cane sugar blocks that look like jaggery, are dissolved in boiling water to make the honey-like agua dulce or “sweet water.”
Wattle seeds from the native acacia tree have long been used by Australia’s Aboriginal communities. Of late, its coffee-chocolate-hazelnut flavour has caught the attention of dessert chefs and café owners too. Like coffee, the ground seeds are steeped in hot water, and added to milk creating an aromatic morning drink.
In China youtiao or doughnuts make the perfect breakfast accompaniment to a large bowl of hot soy milk. In the 1800s this mildly flavoured, protein-rich milk became a popular beverage in China and continues to be sold in every shop and street-side stall from the early hours of the morning.
Appeared in the August 2015 issue as “Move Over Coffee”.
Rumela Basu is former Assistant Editor at National Geographic Traveller India. Her favourite kind of travel involves food, literature, dance and forests. She travels not just to discover new destinations but also aspects of herself.