One of the world’s biggest consumers of coffee, Italians pride themselves on their refined taste for the drink. The standard way of serving coffee in Italy is as an espresso, a small cup of concentrated coffee, unadulterated by milk or cream. In an espresso, near boiling water is forced through finely ground beans. This makes for a thick rich drink with concentrated flavours. An espresso is the base used to make other varieties of drink, such as lattes and mochas, but Italians prefer theirs straight up.
Ethiopia is where coffee first originated, so it is no surprise that it is at the centre of social rituals in the country to this day. A pot of coffee is shared among the members of a household or even with the neighbours, whenever made. The process is quite long as Ethiopians prepare each new brew from scratch, roasting the coffee beans in a certain bowl kept aside just for that activity, then cooling the beans on a straw plate before grinding them in a mortar with a pestle. Ethiopians then place the grounds into a clay ‘Jebena’, add water, let the drink brew to a powerful concentration, then serve in small clay pots, not dissimilar to an expresso glass in terms of size. Ethiopian coffee is renowned as a full-bodied, full-flavoured beverage.
Swedes are among the biggest consumers of coffee in the world. They prefer to take their drink ‘long’, adding milk or cream, rather than enjoying a simple black coffee. Because they drink a lot, lighter flavoured beans are most popular. In Sweden, coffee is a central part of socialising. There is a tradition in the country called the ‘fikka’, which is about taking time out of the day to sit down and socialise with family, workmates or friends. The coffee is always accompanied by cake in a fikka, so the coffee is served without sugar.
Turks, on the other hand, prefer to make their coffee with other flavours and as a longer drink. Beans are ground to a very fine powder and mixed with sugar as well as spices such as cinnamon, cloves or cardamom, depending on the drinker’s preference. This mixture is then placed in a special brewing container called an ibrik along with water. The ibrik is placed over heat and boiled. A sweet froth forms on top of the liquid and this is poured into serving cups. The remaining thick coffee is then boiled again before being poured over the froth. Powerful, almost sludgy in consistency, Turkish coffee is a heady confection of flavours.
Coffee was first introduced to Vietnam by French missionaries, but since then has become a major part of daily life. The Vietnamese prefer a sweeter drink. A thick black coffee is brewed then allowed to percolate into a glass containing a measure of condensed milk. Watching the swirls of the black coffee and the thick milk combine is all part of the ritual. The resultant drink is a mixture of deep coffee taste and intense sweetness. The Vietnamese also serve this coffee over ice.