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Cafe Ole! 5 Unique Coffee Traditions from Around the Globe

Featured — By Rachel Greenberg on June 3, 2010 at 6:00 am
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Did you know coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, right behind petroleum? It’s kind of a shocker! But if you think about it, you can truly get a variation on a cup-o-joe almost anywhere in the world. Whether the country originally had a strong coffee-culture or has acquired one over the years, the availability of coffee is one constant for travelers.

Looking to sample something a little out of the ordinary? Try one of these five drinks to get a true taste of local flair on a familiar favorite.

1. Cafea La Nisip

The base of this drink is “Turkish Coffee”, which to be honest is a bit of a misnomer. If one was so inclined, they could call the incredibly potent, thick and aromatic drink Arabic, Greek, Armenian, [Insert Name Of Middle Eastern, North African, Or Balkan Country Here] Coffee. The tradition of boiling coffee in a copper pot has been around since the 15th century and soon after its creation, coffeehouse culture spread like wildfire through the Ottoman Empire. Coffeehouses sprung up on ever corner (similar to Starbucks, but without any laptops or flannel shirts) selling tiny shots of coffee, and the style became the go-to for coffee drinkers in an entire region of the world. The preparation involves boiling finely ground coffee in hot water, sometimes with sugar, and serving it in tiny cups where the coffee dregs settle to the bottom.

Image: Jorge Lascar/darkensiva/Flickr

Although each region has its own special preparation, Romania has one of the most involved. Their take on Turkish coffee, called cafea la nisip, is made by heating a copper pot in scalding-hot sand in order to get the most gentle, evenly dispersed heat possible, making the smoothest tasting coffee.

This video goes over how to make regular Turkish Coffee. For cafea la nisip just imagine this guy is using gas-heated sand instead of a boring old stove.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVQBeRMBOAE[/youtube]

2. New Orleans Iced Coffee

It may not have the same name recognition as jambalaya but don’t let New Orleans Iced Coffee fool you, it’s a southern classic that’s been flying under the radar for far too long. The difference between this drink and regular iced coffee is all in the chemistry. When making normal iced coffee, grounds are boiled and the beans release acid and oils that make coffee slightly bitter. Couple that with sitting in a cold fridge for a few hours, and you’ve got an incredible acidic drink that masks much of coffee’s natural sweetness.

Image: qi. Thomas/Flickr

Instead, the base of NOIC is “cold drip” coffee – a process where coffee grounds (usually a chicory blend of beans) are seeped in cold water over night and are then strained through fine mesh (no heating and then cooling involved). The resulting product is inky black and so sweet and smooth it doesn’t need sugar. The final step is mixing only a few ounces of this concentrated coffee with milk to make NOIC.

Although this drink may be a little-known regional specialty, a renaissance is definitely not far away. If you’re lucky enough to be in New Orleans, check out Cafe Du Monde or one of CC’s Coffee Houses. If not, Bluebottle Coffee Company in San Francisco makes the classic drink and even sells chicory beans so you can make it at home.

What’s the best thing to snack on while sipping a NOIC at Cafe Du Monde? Duh! Beignets!! If you don’t know what they are already watch the video…and be prepared to drool.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aH01mbbr_o[/youtube]

[Insert Image: Brian Daniel Eisenberg/Flickr]

3. Cola De Mono

Images: alegria_alegria2006/roquex”/Flickr

You may think eggnog is a festive holiday drink, but wait till you here what the Chileans get to indulge in during their winter holidays…Cola De Mono (or Monkey’s Tail). This alcoholic treat is usually homemade and contains coffee, condensed milk, anise, rum, and aguardiente (a generic name for high-proof alcohol).

Since this drink is usually reserved for sharing among friends at parties, it’s pretty hard to find in restaurants and bars. If you want to try some, locate a friendly Chilean during winter time to share some of their delicious, sweet, coffee-infused, alcoholic goodness with you!

Want to learn how to make this drink AND you speak Spanish? This video is for you!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5JiBpBwxbc&feature=related[/youtube]

4. Salty Coffee

85C Bakery Cafe, Taiwan’s most popular coffee chain, began selling “salty coffee” in the beginning of 2009, and coffee drinkers still cant get enough. They serve regular brewed, sweetened coffee with sea salt-infused foam on top. Although this might repulse some purist coffee drinkers’ palates, salty coffee drinkers say the salt actually enhances coffee’s natural flavor and brings out its sweetness, much like salting fruit.

The popularity of 85C Bakery Cafe just keeps growing. They can be found all over Taiwan, in mainland China, Australia, and even have a store in Irvine, California where they serve salty coffee to clamoring crowds.

Image: KirbieCravings

Not totally sure what’s going on in this video, but it does give a sense of the popularity that is 85C Bakery Cafe.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovjALmaImmo[/youtube]

5. Ca Phe Sua

This sweet coffee drink is extremely popular in Vietnam where hot afternoons make a cold, caffeinated drink extra appealing. The concoction is made by simply mixing brewed coffee and condensed milk, filtering it, and serving it over ice. (If you drink it hot, it’s simply called “Ca Phe Sua”). Here’s the fun part: most restaurants in Vietnam give patrons all the ingredients to mix their own drink with their perfect coffee/condensed milk/ice ratio.

Image: miminari/Flickr

Ca Phe Sua originated when the French, who occupied Vietnam, introduced coffee beans into the Vietnamese culture in the late 19th century- to this day, French Roast is the primary type of beans used in this drink. Since fresh milk was hard to come by in Vietnam that many years ago, coffee lovers turned to sweetened condensed milk to get their fix -and that’s still exactly how it’s made to this day.

Check out this video to hear how to make Vietnamese iced coffee at home.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6weM0-n2GD8[/youtube]

Tried some other coffee-based concoction that deserves to be on the list? Let us know!

[Image: DeusXFlorida/Flickr]

Tags: Ca Phe Sua, cafae la nisip, Chile, coffee, coffee shops, Cola de Mono, New Oleans iced coffe, New Orleans, Romania, salty coffee, taiwan, turkish coffee, vietnam

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