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.
Indonesia: Kopi Luwak
Description: This infamous brew starts its trip to the cup by passing through the digestive tract of the civet, where enzymes are said to make the beans smoother, richer, and less bitter. The catlike mammal eats the ripest coffee berries and then excretes the undigested inner beans, which farmers harvest from their droppings. (This may not be any comfort, but the beans are then thoroughly washed!)
Sip Tip: The world's most expensive coffee (it's often sold for hundreds of dollars per pound) has spawned a slew of counterfeiters. Be wary if you see the coffee being sold at a deep discount—chances are no civets were used in the making of this bean.
Cafe: Located in Jakarta's Chinatown, the city's oldest coffee shop, Warung Tinggi, opened in 1878 and traces its history back to Indonesia's days as a Dutch colony. Bonus: Jakarta sits on the island of Java! Jl. Batu Jajar No. 35B, warungtinggi.com, kopi luwak $150 per pound.
Malaysia: Pak Kopi/Kopi Putih/Bai Ka-fe
Description: Introduced to the Perak region by 19th-century Chinese tin miners, this lighter brew—also called Ipoh white coffee after the town where it was developed—is made by roasting coffee beans in palm-oil margarine. Traditional Malaysian black coffee (kopi o) is roasted with both margarine and sugar, resulting in a darker roast.
Sip Tip: Unlike in most other countries, in Malaysia the term "white coffee" does not mean that milk is included—it simply refers to the lighter color of the roast. Nevertheless, like the rest of Southeast Asia, Malaysians will most often serve white coffee with condensed milk.
Cafe: With its stark tiled interiors and Coca-Cola sign over the door, Sin Yoon Loong in Old Town Ipoh is decidedly no-frills, but this is the original white coffee cafe. Try the specialty for breakfast with toast and homemade coconut jam. 15A Jalan Bandar Timah, 011-60/05-2414-5601, white coffee 45¢.
Description: Taking its name from the Spanish word for "cut," this drink is a simple espresso "cut" with a small splash of milk. The connection to Italian espresso is no coincidence—Buenos Aires is the Latin American city with perhaps the closest ties to Europe and its old-world cafe culture.
Sip Tip: If you like your coffee (much) milkier, order a lágrima ("tear" or "teardrop" in Spanish), which reverses the ratio: a lot of hot milk with a splash of coffee.
Cafe: Founded in 1858 by a French immigrant, Buenos Aires's Cafe Tortoni is the country's oldest cafe, offering nightly tango shows in its simple basement venue. Avenida de Mayo 825, cafetortoni.com.ar, cortado $2.50.
Australia/New Zealand: Flat White
Description: Though the Aussies and the Kiwis still feud over who invented the drink, they agree on one basic fact: It's not a latte! A flat white is coffee mixed with steamed milk, served in a ceramic cup with a handle; a latte also includes froth on top and should be served in a tall glass.
Sip Tip: A flat white shouldn't be made with just any milk—the recipe calls for micro-foam, the non-frothy steamed milk at the bottom of the vessel. (Macro-foam, or dry foam, comes from the top of the steaming pitcher, includes more bubbles, and is used in cappuccinos.)
Cafe: First they tackled wine. Now they're onto coffee. Both Australia and New Zealand have turned into countries of caffeine connoisseurs (snobs even!) and have followed by opening a slew of sleek, urban cafes. Campos Coffee, a tiny timber espresso bar in Sydney's Newtown neighborhood, is known for its crowds, the speed of its baristas (up to 200 coffees served per hour), and its quirky house blends: The Obama includes beans from both Kenya and the Americas (193 Missenden Rd., camposcoffee.com, flat white $3.55). In Auckland, Espresso Workshop ups the coffee-snob quotient with an on-site roastery, barista lessons, and coffee-appreciation classes (19 Falcon St., espressoworkshop.co.nz, flat white $4.15).
Spain: Café Bombón
Description: This sweet combination of equal parts espresso and condensed milk originated in Valencia and has since become popular throughout the country.
Sip Tip: The drink is most often served in a small glass (similar to a shot glass) to show off the distinct layers of the black coffee and the off-white condensed milk. In order to keep the layers separate, the espresso must be poured into the glass very slowly, often over the back of a spoon.
Cafe: If you're in search of a café bombón, chances are you have a serious sweet tooth. Don't miss one of Madrid's famous churrerias, where you can dip sugary sticks of fried dough into insanely thick and rich hot chocolate. Locals prefer Chocolat, an unassuming churro spot tucked into a neighborhood side street a 10-minute walk from the Museo del Prado. Santa Maria 30, 011-34/914-294-565, café bombón $2.30.