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.
Morocco: Café des Épices
Description: A delicious by-product of Morocco's spice markets, this brew can incorporate a number of flavors depending on the whims of the cafe owner, including ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, cinnamon, sesame, cumin, and cloves.
Sip Tip: The sweetness of your cup of coffee is often dictated by the occasion, with sweet coffee served symbolically at happy occasions like weddings and bitter, black coffee served at funerals.
Cafe: Aside from the spiced coffee—hence the name Café des Épices—this cafe in the Marrakech medina offers mint tea, fresh-squeezed orange juice, flatbread sandwiches, and rooftop seating from which to gaze out over the buzzing market. 75 Lakdima Rahba, cafedesepices.net, café des epices, $1.80.
France: Café au Lait
Description: This quintessential morning drink made with hot (but not steamed) milk is often served in a wide-mouthed bowl to accommodate the dunking of baguettes or croissants. A similar drink you may see on menus is café crème; many say the drinks are nearly identical, but crème is more often ordered in the afternoon.
Sip Tip: If you'd like only a little milk in your coffee, do as the locals do and ask for café noisette (hazelnut coffee)—it has nothing to do with hazelnut flavoring, but instead takes its name from the toasty, nutty color imparted by the dash of milk.
Cafe: Situated in the 6th arrondisement on Paris's Left Bank, the Café de Flore looks much the same as it did when Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir argued about existentialism here during World War II, with its famous red-leather booths, mahogany paneling, and mirrored walls. 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, cafedeflore.fr, café crème $7.
Description: Especially popular among the local Sami population in the eastern region of Kainuu, this dish/drink is made by submerging chunks of leipäjuusto (a cow- or reindeer-milk cheese curd with a caramelized crust that makes it look like bread) into a cup of black coffee, fishing them out, and then drinking what's left.
Sip Tip: If you're looking to make the treat yourself, the distinctive cheese is sold under a number of different names: leipäjuusto (bread cheese), juustoleipa (cheese bread), and narskujuusto (which refers to the squeaky sound the curds make on your teeth).
Cafe: This rural treat is more often made at home rather than purchased at a cafe, especially in cosmopolitan Helsinki. You can pick up leipäjuusto at most markets and dunk it yourself. Or head to Zetor, a Finnish-countryside-themed restaurant that is decorated with tractors and milk jugs and serves classic dishes like reindeer and leipäjuusto with cloudberry jam. Mannerheimintie 3–5, ravintolazetor.fi, cheese $10.75.
Ireland: Irish Coffee
Description: Served in a stemmed whiskey goblet with a heaping dollop of whipped cream, this warming drink—more classic cocktail than morning pick-me-up—is made with hot coffee, sugar, and Irish whiskey and was reportedly invented by Chef Joseph Sheridan in 1942 to warm up arriving passengers at what is now Shannon Airport.
Sip Tip: Don't stir the cream into your coffee! The hot coffee is meant to be drunk through the cold whipped cream.
Cafe: Though the Irish coffee may be a relatively recent addition to the centuries-old pub scene, the drink has become all but ubiquitous across the Emerald Isle. In Dublin, sipping an Irish coffee is all about the atmosphere, and it doesn't come much more authentic than the Brazen Head. Established in 1198, the pub claims to be the country's oldest—although the present building dates back to the still-impressive 17th century. Plus it's only a 10-minute walk to the Irish whiskey motherlode: the Jameson Distillery. 20 Lower Bridge St., brazenhead.com, Irish coffee $8.
United States: Frappuccino
Description: Starbucks has become synonymous with American cafe culture, and this milkshake-coffee hybrid has become the ultimate symbol of the brand: a ubiquitous, endlessly customizable, massive seller tailored to the country's sweet tooth. Taking into account the bottled version sold in supermarkets and convenience stores, annual Frappuccino sales have exceeded the $1 billion mark.
Sip Tip: Looking for an extra boost? Frappuccinos can be ordered "affogato-style," which means they come topped with a shot of espresso. But you won't see this drink listed on any menus. In addition to the 87,000 combinations advertised by the brand in the past, the truest Starbucks connoisseurs speak in a language of off-menu secret specialties (a "Short," for example, is a third smaller than a Tall and comes at a cheaper price). Remember that, though relatively common, these drink orders are not official, so don't get too mad if your barista doesn't know what you're talking about!
Cafe: Whether or not you're a Starbucks skeptic, you can't miss Seattle's Pike Place Market location. The first link in the ever-expanding global chain opened here in 1971. 1912 Pike Pl., starbucks.com, Tall from $2.95.