Coffee Around the World
Coffee is a beverage that delivers a caffeine boost and an experience. Some may believe that Venti almond-milk latte is a standard order in other countries-- but in reality, it’s not even an option on the menu. Not only do the types of coffee differ, but everything from the roasting of the beans, the experience of ordering, to the general atmosphere, differentiate across coffee shops around the world.
Traditional Israeli coffee is thick and rich. It is a blended Turkish coffee known as botz, or “mud” in Hebrew.
“Mud coffee” is made by brewing the coffee grinds in hot water. The grinds are left to settle into “mud.” This concoction creates a gritty texture and rich flavor.
Besides “mud coffee” which has traditionally been the most popular drink (especially on kibbutzim), in more recent years, the cappuccino, or cafe hafuch, has skyrocketed to popularity according to Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In the United States, people mostly drink drip coffee-- ground beans filtered through hot (or cold) water. Variations of different lattes and frappuccinos are the most popular type of coffee sold at Starbucks in America according to an article in Time magazine.
But, there is no Starbucks in Israel. This coffee company did not just fail, it crashed and burned. The reason is clear. The distinctly American tasting sugar-infused beverages were not popular among Israelis, they favored traditional Israeli coffee.
Americans often order their coffee with an assortment of dairy-free, low-fat, low-calorie, or another ubiquitous “milk” options. But in Israel, coffee is simpler. While many coffee shops offer standard macciatios and espressos, sugary, whipped cream covered, chocolate chip added, extra-caramel shot beverages just do not exist, nor are wanted.
Israelis also reject the fast-paced, “to-go” Americanized coffee culture. Similar to Italy, Israelis prefer to sit down, relax, and sip out of a porcelain cup with friends. You cannot venture outside of your apartment in New York City without seeing someone carrying a paper coffee cup in hand. In Israel, “to-go,” is not the norm.
Recognized as the coffee capital of the world, Italy’s coffee culture is centered around relaxation. With such a rich coffee heritage and tradition, there are many unspoken rules.
In the afternoon, you’ll gather a sideways glance for ordering a coffee with milk, such as a cappuccino. It is common knowledge in Italy that milk does not assist in digestion. If you have just eaten lunch, a beverage containing this substance should be the last thing on your mind.
Coffee is an opportunity for socializing. Waltzing down the stone streets of Venice or Rome yield coffee shop, after coffee shop with people, talking while crowded around small tables with striped umbrellas overhead. They lift espressos and cappuccinos served in glasses (not paper cups) to their lips. The when and where matters to Italians. Ordering a coffee to just to stand at the bar to engage with the barista is also not uncommon.
Similarly to Israel, the assortments of coffee is limited. Espresso is the most popular option. In addition, be aware that cup sizes are smaller when compared to American sizing. Ventis are not an option.
The Italians are very particular about their coffee, as previously stated. Other unspoken rules include:
Coffee with milk is only consumed in the morning.
Keep it simple--you can order mochas, but other than the basics, most coffee shops don’t offer anything more complicated besides the standards such as caffe lattes, cappuccinos, caffe correctos, caffe freddos or espressos.
Here’s an important note: espresso equals “un cafe.” If you simply order “a coffee” you are going to receive an espresso.
You may want a Venti-sized coffee, but serving sizes are smaller in Italy. Italians largely prefer to drink small amounts of coffee several times a day--adjust accordingly.
Just like in Israel, yell out your order--even if the barista is busy with their back to you. If you wait patiently for the “Hi, welcome to Starbucks, can I take your order?” you’ll be waiting for a long time.
Spain may not have the coffee culture reputation of Italy, but this beverage is still a major part of the Spanish way of life. A home-brewed cafe con leche is the perfect way many Spaniards begin their day. Spain’s answer to Italian espresso is a cafe solo, which can offer a jolt into the workday.
According to a survey carried out by the Center for Sociological Investigation, seven out of 10 Spaniards never visit a museum or library. Instead, 60.5 percent visit a cafe, bar or restaurant at minimum, once a week. Ingrained in the culture is one of sociality, as such, caffeine is a must. At all hours of the night, coffee is almost always available.
If you want to avoid looking like a touris,t be aware of these tips:
Coffee is often served after dessert, a perfect way to end the evening.
It is custom to generally order coffee after any meal, both lunch and dinner.
Similarly to Italians, it is not customary to order “cafe con leche” in the afternoons or evenings. Coffee with milk is reserved, traditionally, for the mornings.
Visiting Spain? Learn how to order coffee like a pro: https://madridfoodtour.com/ordering-coffee-in-spain/.
Coffee was first introduced under King Charles I in the 1600s. However, it is the academics at Oxford who are to credit with the creation of the “coffeehouse” culture that is still in place today.
Much like traditional American-style coffee, an assortment of sugary, complicated drinks are available to customers. Of all the coffee across Europe, England’s coffee style is the most similar compared to American coffee.
While tea remains a popular drink rooted in tradition, coffee culture is taking over. According to an article in the Washington Post, the death of tea is upon the land. Unlike Israel and Italy, who seem to avoid standardized coffee chains like the plague, England embraces it.
The most prominent British coffee chain, Costa Coffee, boasts 2,121 shops across the United Kingdom according to Statstica in 2018. As a leader in the coffee market in Great Britain, Costa operates the highest number of coffee shops in the European coffee shop market according to the same research.
The big coffee chain culture does not end there. Starbucks and Caffe Nero are other popular shops. These big three enjoy 54 percent of the market share for branded coffee chains in the United Kingdom.
These are just a fleeting glance at the different types of coffee around the world, and as such, do not do them justice. But, experiencing just a taste can prepare you for your next trip abroad-- whether that is an espresso in Italy, “mud coffee” in Israel, a cafe solo in Spain or a Costa Coffee in England.
Or you can just settle with a Starbucks... you be the judge.