Something I have found with my love of coffee and my love of travel is that coffee, cafes and cafe culture is different all over the world. Some cities and countries are well known for their coffee related quirks, others are simply in a country or region where coffee might be served or prepared in a different way than you’re used to. Coming from a country that is staunchly proud of their coffee consumption, but one that has only in recent years yielded to more than black filtered coffees it is always interesting to see the different ways people have chosen to add milk, coffee beans and water together. The great thing about travel is that it lends you a variety of opportunities to try out coffees allover the world. I find that I’m always chasing the hours and trying to get a handle on my jet lag, especially during short trips, which means that most of the time caffeine is your friend. When you are in need of a sit and a lift from some coffee in a new city it is good to know what you will be getting, or at least what you’re trying to order. So here are the “global mainstays”:
One of the most hotly debated drinks out there is the cappuccino. It is probably one of the first drinks anyone will order when venturing into the scary world of cafe coffees, mainly because it is just a drink that is mentioned often. What it entails simply is espresso, a small amount of steamed milk and then a larger amount of milk foam to top it all off. In countries like Australia and New Zealand however, I would be crucified for forgetting to mention the cocoa topping and many others say that cinnamon is the sign of a well made cap. I say hogwash, but that is really just my opinion. Cappuccinos are somewhat unique in the fact that you can order them “dry” or “wet” in a number of countries and it is understood that a dryer cappuccino is one with more of that light foam than usual and a wet cappuccino is one with less foam and so more steamed milk to make up for it. While you may often here people say that Italians wouldn’t dare having a cappuccino any time after breakfast, who cares? Enjoy those odd looks as you enjoy that cappuccino in a Milanese cafe, you deserve the coffee you want whenever it suits you.
The second most talked about and ordered drinks typical is the latte or cafe latte. Put simply it’s all the same stuff as the cappucino, a small amount of espresso, more steamed milk and less milk foam than a cappuccino. Because every cafe, barista, and customer are different all these ratios can change from drink to drink a bit but stay reasonably the same. The amount of espresso is and should be standard throughout these drinks and their respective sizes however, unless a double or “strong” is ordered. The latte has been flavored and co-opted by tea drinkers a million times over but the building blocks will always be the same no matter where you go and they are pretty damn great.
The last “standard” drink that you can get in any and every country pretty much is the simplest and in my opinion might just be the best there it is. The espresso. It is just a few grams of finely ground coffee beans packed together before pushing hot water through them and what you get is the brown liquid that goes into nearly all of the other things you can order from your local cafe. No matter if you are in an airport in Santa Fe, a cafe in Paris or a hotel in Lesotho if a place says they have coffee you should be able to get an espresso that is recognizable as such. Some places will supply you with sugar and cream, others a cup of sparkling or still water, but most just a simple small cup. An espresso is one of the best ways to test the grit of a coffee shop and if you are greeted with a good taste and long lasting crema you might want to stick around for a second. An espresso is the type of drink that in many cases is simply the fastest way to get caffeine into your body, but can be a much more enjoyable experience if done correctly.
So it is probably pretty obvious what my favorite would be, if you hadn’t guess it is the simple espresso, but these you can get pretty much anywhere that has coffee these days. These may be replace with some regional alternatives in rare cases, but if that is so, why not just try those? Next we can take a look at some more particular and harder to find coffee drinks and what they entail in most places.