Thursday, October 1 is International Coffee Day. And catching up with friends over a cup of coffee, even if you're talking on video chat, has never seemed so appealing, especially since there are now so many ways to enjoy your daily perk, from creamy Vietnamese coffee and the ceremonials of Ethiopian coffee to Turkey's traditional strong black brew.
Fans of milky coffee should beware when ordering their favorite drink at a Hanoi market or in the backstreets of Ho Chi Minh City. In fact, Vietnam has its own particular way of doing things when it comes to this drink, with a tradition that involves using condensed milk as the key ingredient. All coffee in Vietnam is served with an individual aluminum filter placed over the cup (unless you order an American coffee, of course). You then pour boiling water into the filter which contains the coffee powder. Generally, you are also brought a large glass filled with ice cubes. The Vietnamese then pour the freshly filtered coffee onto the glass of ice to drink it chilled. Coffee is a veritable way of life in the land of the ascending dragon!
How do the people of Athens or Thessaloniki keep cool when the sun is shining? They drink their coffee on ice, of course. Espresso freddo can be ordered anywhere and everywhere to sip through a straw. Fans of milky brews or cappuccino can also sample iced versions. If you want to give it a try at home, the best way is to shake up instant coffee with a bit of sugar and some water in a cocktail shaker. Then, pour the foam into a glass then drop in the ice cubes. Greeks aren't the only ones who enjoy iced coffee. The Italians may be champions of the ristretto, but they also like to mix things up with a shakerato. In this version, the coffee is served short, its aroma is intense and it's above all topped with a generous foam. Finally, in Japan, iced coffee is an option that's often found ready to drink in bottles or cans in the various drinks vending machines on street corners.
Nice and spiced
In Ethiopia, coffee is a ceremonial affair with its own rituals. In the land that claims to be the birthplace of coffee, the drink is served by women and is prepared on the ground. In fact, fresh still-green coffee beans are roasted directly on the spot before being ground in a mortar. Water is then added to boil up the potion over a charcoal fire. The coffee is always served three times, with water added each time. Above all, the coffee is spiced with different aromatics, such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and even chili.
Without a doubt the world's most famous traditional coffee, the Turkish technique is seen in several Middle Eastern countries, such as Lebanon. The typical Turkish coffee pot, called the cezve, made from brass or copper, is an essential piece of kit. Simply pour in water along with sugar then bring it to the boil. Next, take it off the heat to add very finely ground coffee. The coffee should then be boiled twice in a row.
Twinned with tea
The Japanese have a particular talent for shaping cat figurines in their cappuccino foam. But the land of matcha -- where the traditional tea ceremony goes back hundreds of years -- also offers an original way to enjoy coffee, by blending it with teas with roasted flavors. In Kyoto, in particular, where coffee shops are well established and serve the black stuff in the typically Western way, drinking coffee is an experience to be savored, as customers can select and sample different varieties of green tea to be prepared together with their coffee. The resulting drink is a perfectly balanced brew that envelops the palate with roasted aromas.