A twist of lemon, a touch of spice or even a splash of booze…what coffee tradition takes your fancy?
Espresso purist or frappe fiend, we all have our favourite types of coffee.
Whether you like it short and punchy or sweet and foamy, looking beyond the menu options of your local cafe can open up a whole world of creative coffee combinations. Indulge your caffeine curiosity and follow that irresistible aroma as we take you on a global adventure of types of coffee. By exploring coffee culture in different countries. We’ll see just how versatile the humble coffee bean can be.
Coffee traditions around the world
Colombian Arabica, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Vietnamese Robusta… Various types of coffee beans grown in different places yield distinct strengths and flavour profiles. But what about the ways of drinking coffee?
It’s thought that coffee’s origin as a drink dates back to around 700 AD. In the following 1300 years, as it travelled to the far corners of the Earth, the types of coffee evolved exponentially. People embraced and adapted it, mixing it with a whole host of ingredients to craft delicious beverages that are still popular today.
Coffee and tea may be an unfamiliar combination in the UK, but in Hong Kong, yuenyeung, or ‘coffee with tea’, is a popular pick-me-up. Yuenyeung starts with a base of milk tea — a mixture of black tea and condensed milk. Add a dash of coffee, and you get a thick, sweet drink that still provides a real caffeine boost.
Milk tea itself is a versatile drink, and you can add different spices and tea types to create unique flavours. And with so many types of coffee variants to try, you can really add your own stamp to this creamy beverage.
This is one of the types of coffee that is perfectly suited to a summer’s day. Picture yourself on the sun-kissed Greek islands, sipping a refreshing iced coffee topped with lashings of sweet foam. The frappe was invented in the 1950s by a Nescafé representative who couldn’t get any hot water to make his afternoon coffee. Plumping for the next best thing, he added some cold water to his instant coffee and mixed it in a shaker. An unexpected triumph.
From that day on, the frappe became a firm summertime favourite in Greece. It can be ordered in three degrees of sweetness:
- Glykós (sweet, adding double the amount of sugar to instant coffee)
- Métrios (medium, equal parts instant coffee and sugar)
- Skétos (plain, no sugar)
You can make your own frappe by combining instant coffee, sugar and water in a cocktail shaker or jar. Give it a shake, pour over ice, and top with a splash of evaporated milk.
Perhaps cheese isn’t the first ingredient that springs to mind when pairing coffee with a snack, but the combination is a revered delicacy in Finland.
Kaffeost is prepared by pouring hot coffee over cubes of juustoleipä (dried cheese curds) in a traditional wooden mug. Rather than melting, the cheese absorbs the coffee to create a soft spongy texture that can be eaten with a spoon as you sip. Best served piping hot, kaffeost is often presented as a welcoming drink for guests.
If kaffeost isn’t your cuppa joe, have you tried pairing chocolate with cheese? Whether you go for mild or mature, fruity or salty, they might just be a match made in heaven. In fact, chocolate con queso (hot chocolate with melted cheese) is a breakfast favourite in Colombia. Cheese-lovers can add a slice of camembert to a cup of full-bodied Dark Hot Chocolate and wait for it to melt into flavoursome, gooey goodness.
If you’re a fan of meringue, you may be intrigued by cà phê trứng or Vietnamese egg coffee.
To make this uniquely-textured drink, whip egg yolk into condensed milk for ten minutes until you get a fluffy cloud of creamy sweetness. Layer it over strong espresso and marvel at how the dessert-like foam offsets the sharpness of the coffee.
The Italians get straight to the heart of coffee with the espresso Romano. A traditional Italian espresso consists of a shot of strong coffee served with a lemon slice. The lemon highlights the coffee’s natural sweetness, though many people add an extra teaspoon of sugar, too.
If you like the robust flavour of espresso but wish to temper it with something mellow, taking a sip alongside a nibble of a velvety truffle like the Tiramisu Selector can provide the perfect balance. Ideal for an afternoon energy boost or a delectable after-dinner treat.
The zingy impact of lemon is a popular coffee feature in Portugal, too. Mazagran is an iced coffee beverage served with lemon or lemon juice.
Billed as the original iced coffee, the drink originated in Algeria in the 1830s but these days you’ll find it primarily in Portugal. Portuguese baristas will serve mazagran with a twist of lemon and sometimes a splash of rum.
Ethiopia is the home of Arabica coffee. There, drinking the rich, aromatic brew is a community affair. They roast and prepare their coffee, known as ‘buna,’ in a special clay pot called a jebena, and share it around during coffee ceremonies.
Mostly, buna is served black and sometimes paired with savoury snacks like popcorn and puffed barley.
Coffee is so much a part of Ethiopian life that many people use the phrase ‘buna dabo naw’, meaning ‘coffee is our bread.’
The aromatic blend of cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg might summon memories of Christmas and the warming sensation of mulled wine. But Moroccan spiced coffee is a luxurious drink suitable for any time of the year.
Made by brewing fragrant dark coffee with delicious spices, the Moroccans know how to create a beverage that entices all the senses.
You can prepare your own by mixing your favourite spices with ground coffee, then brewing as usual, whether that’s using a French press, Moka pot, or drip filter.
Fancy your coffee in dessert form? Take a leaf from the Irish and top your espresso with a sprinkle of sugar, a dash of whiskey and a rich layer of whipped cream. It makes for an unbeatable post-dinner indulgence.
Whilst whiskey is the Irish tradition, you can jazz up your coffee with nutty amaretto, boozy brandy, or spiced rum if you prefer.
For a quick and delicious twist, try adding a generous glug of our Velvetised Espresso Martini Cream Liqueur to your coffee. Sit back, sip, and let the silky texture do its magic.
Or, for a low-effort coffee fix, you can simply give the bottle a shake and pour over ice. We’ve paired the sweet decadence of white chocolate with aromatic coffee notes and underlined it all with vivacious vodka. Take a sip to taste these dynamic flavours together in a smooth, oh-so-drinkable tipple.
For a short, sweet, and striking coffee option, look no further than the cafe bombon from Spain. Derived from the Spanish word for confection, the intensely thick cafe bombon traditionally mixes equal parts espresso and dulce de leche (sweetened condensed milk).
When served classic-style in a glass espresso cup, the coffee and condensed milk separate, creating a beautiful, layered feast for the eyes. The contrasting colours, aromas and flavours are sure to have your mouth watering.
You may be familiar with the flat white, a staple in many trendy cafes and restaurants. But, did you know the flat white coffee is an Australian invention?
Similar to a latte in texture, a flat white contains a double shot of espresso topped with a small amount of steamed milk and a thin layer of microfoam.
Because of the relatively small amount of milk, a flat white is quite a strong coffee and is popular as a takeaway for those on the go. It’ll give you a great mix of flavours and put a pep in your step.
If you find a flat white a little too bold, a latte offers the same rich flavour notes but in a more gentle way. Out and about, a latte is an ideal beverage to leisurely sip away at during a coffee shop catch-up with friends.
However, you can now get the same comforting and uplifting results from your very own kitchen, too — no barista training necessary. Whether you’re entertaining guests or enjoying a moment of peace and quiet to yourself, you can whip up an irresistibly smooth latte in just a few minutes with a sachet from our coffee collection. You can prepare your drink with a Velvetiser or heat it up on the hob.
If you’re looking for a punchier caffeine hit, peruse our five house coffee blends to find one that you love. It’s never too late to find your coffee ritual.