A Coffee Addict's Guide to the World
Would you mix your joe with cheese? Butter? Whiskey? Most of the world loves coffee, but you might be surprised by how they take it. Bring your morning cup on a world tour with 25 popular regional spins on the caffeinated classic.
Turkey: Türk Kahvesi
Description: A remnant of Ottoman coffeehouse culture, this thick brew is made in a copper cezve (a long-handled pot) and often served after meals with chewy Turkish delight candy.
Sip Tip: Don't drink the thick layer of sludge on the bottom of the cup. You won't want to end up chewing on leftover grounds; besides, they can be used for a special form of fortune-telling called tasseography.
Cafe: Founded in 1923 in Istanbul's Kadıköy market, Fazıl Bey'in Türk Kahvesi offers its small cups of Turkish coffee in flavors like cardamom, vanilla, or mastic—an aromatic resin used in Mediterranean desserts. Serasker Cad.Tarihi Kadıköy Çarçısı 1a, fazilbey.com, Türk kahvesi $2.50.
Hong Kong: Yuanyang
Description: An East-meets-West mix of coffee and tea (and milk), this unlikely pair is named for the Mandarin duck—a species in which the male and female look totally different but mate for life.
Sip Tip: A proper cup should be made with Hong Kong–style milk tea, a strong blend of black tea filtered through a fabric bag that looks remarkably similar to pantyhose (in fact, it's sometimes nicknamed "silk stocking tea").
Cafe: The most popular places to find Hong Kong comfort food and milk tea are the 24-hour, retro-style diners called cha chaan tengs. Among the best is Tsui Wah, a spot known for its giant neon sign and its all-hours crowds. 15–19 Wellington St., tsuiwahrestaurant.com, yuanyang from $1.90.
Description: The ubiquitous foam-topped iced drink is made with Nescafé instant coffee, cold water, sugar, and evaporated (or regular) milk—and always served with a straw.
Sip Tip: Any self-respecting Greek knows a frappé should always be shaken, not stirred.
Cafe: A great place to sip the cool stuff is Thessaloniki, Greece's seaside Second City and the drink's hometown—it was reportedly invented here in 1957 at the Thessaloniki International Fair by a representative of the Nestle company. For the best views, stop by the stylish Kitchen Bar, which sits on the harbor overlooking the city's famous White Tower. B Port Depot, kitchenbar.com.gr, frappé $2.70.
Description: Brewed with chicory, this South Indian variety comes with a layer of foam formed during the cooling-down process: The server pours the coffee back and forth between two stainless-steel tumblers in long, sweeping arcs to aerate it.
Sip Tip: You might see this coffee referred to on menus as "meter coffee" or "coffee by the yard," a reference to the desired height from which the coffee should be poured between tumblers.
Cafe: Opened in the 1950s by a coffee workers' cooperative, the Indian Coffee House is a popular national chain, well-known for its extremely cheap eats. Perhaps the most famous of the branches is Kolkata's College Street location, which has attracted its fair share of students, intellectuals, and even revolutionaries, such as the founders of the Indian Communist Party. 15 Bankin Chatterjee St., indiancoffeehouse.com, kaapi 16¢.
Vietnam: Ca Phe Sua Da
Description: Made tableside by pouring hot water through a stainless-steel filter (phin) balanced over your glass, the coffee drips slowly onto a layer of sweetened condensed milk.
Sip Tip: If the beans are too finely ground, the coffee will drip through the filter too quickly, making for a weak brew.
Cafe: Hotel Continental's La Dolce Vita Cafe, with its whirring ceiling fans and wicker terrace chairs, will immediately call to mind colonial Saigon. 132–134 Dong Khoi St., continentalhotel.com.vn, ca phe sua da $3.
Cuba: Café Cubano
Description: This Italian-style espresso shot gets its unique taste from adding raw demerara sugar, resulting in a sweet brown foam on top called espumita.
Sip Tip: The best way to achieve the perfect espumita is by mixing the first few drops of coffee with the sugar—creating a sugary sludge—before adding the rest of the coffee.
Cafe: The coffee daiquiri on the menu may not be the most traditional, but everything else at Café el Escorial, which is housed in a colonial mansion overlooking Havana's Plaza Vieja, screams Old Cuba. Mercaderes No. 317, 011-53/868-3545, café cubano from 75¢.