The first thing you are asked when you enter someone’s residence as a guest is your preference for a drink. “Would you like a coffee, tea or juice” is a question that comes your way anywhere in the world so it wouldn’t come as a surprise if we told you the cultures and customs differ around the world, would it? Right from what goes into the coffee to how its offered here are a few coffee customs from around the world
COFFEE AS A SPIRITUAL DRINK? Coffee’s origins are by itself traced to spiritual and holy rituals. While the credit for who revolutionalised coffee as drink is contested by Ethiopians and the Yemeni, it was the Yemeni Sufi Muslims who in the 16th century used coffee as a mystic sacrament to stay awake during religious rituals. With time, the religious views on the substance changed and evolved and now coffee has become part of culture bereft of communalism.
THE ITALIAN TABOO Italians consider it taboo to drink milk coffee after a meal or in the afternoon. For them, espresso or “un caffee” which is their dear invention is a go-to drink in the afternoon while milk coffee is strictly limited to the morning half of the day along with a pastry.
THE ARAB TRADITION Did you know? That Arabs take serving their coffee too seriously that it is serving Arabic coffee is considered a UNESCO-recognised “ceremonial act of generosity”. Similar to an Italian Espresso, the ground coffee is brought to a boil in a copper flask placed on coal. After the brew, this is then transferred into small cups. While serving, the most important guest is served first or it is usually done in the order of age.
WHY THE VIETNAMESE PREFER CONDENSED MILK In a country with the second-largest coffee producer, some may find it bitter that they like their coffee sweet. Coffee was introduced under the French Colonial rule to Vietnam and the use of condensed milk in their coffee has become a distinct hallmark of their coffee culture. However, it was due to the lack of availability of milk and the resource to store it that condensed milk was used in its place. Milk, sugar and condensed milk are needed to complement the strong, bold flavour of Robusta beans.
THE ACCIDENTAL INVENTION OF IRISH COFEE Coming from a largely tea-drinking nation, Irish coffee has revolutionalised the world of coffee inventions. It consists of hot coffee, Irish whisky, topped with cream and almonds. To date, this remains to be one of the go-to alcohol drinks to coffee lovers as it brings a hot combination of alcohol and freshly brewed coffee.
YET ANOTHER ALCHOLOHIC COCKTAIL Carajillo is another alcoholic coffee cocktail which originates from Spain and has found wide popularity in America, Mexico and Cuba due to colonisation. While Irish Coffee uses Whiskey, Carjillo uses brandy in coffee. This was apparently given to the soldiers to keep them to get through their long days
THE TURKISH COFFEE CUSTOMS When it comes to Turkish coffee, it is brewed with spices to add flavour to its dark and strong coffee. The preparation itself is so unique that is has made it to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Turkish coffee is brewed in a Cezve which is a copper instrument with a special small pot attached to a long handle. The interesting ritual here is that the sugar is pre-deiced and brewed along with the coffee in the Cezve and is never added or offered after. While coffee is enjoyed with Turkish sweets and water to wash down the bold flavour, the quintessential part of Turkish coffee comes after you are done drinking it. As Turkish coffee usually leaves lots of leftover ground there exists a custom of coffee reading fortune telling custom. The signs left by the ground leftover in your coffee cup are looked into to draw conclusions about the future.
THE FINNISH TAKE THE CHEESE In Finland, a small piece of cheese, usually juustoleipä, is placed at the bottom of the cup. While it might sound odd at the first reading, it acts similar to milk. Since cheese is essentially made from milk, the block of cheese soaks up the flavour of the coffee and adds sweetness to coffee.