This is a guest post by Alex Mastin: “I have a passion for travel and great coffee, which allows me to traverse the globe and experience new cultures and coffee beans. Learn more about my journey (or rather: obsession) over at HomeGrounds“
Like any sensible traveller I try to plan my adventures around the important things: local people, local places, and local coffee (the most important). When I travel, my goal is to immerse myself in the oddities of an alien culture, and sample and taste everything that culture has to offer.
All that experience-seeking can be quite tiring, requiring ample reserves of energy. Luckily there are many unique coffee drinks around the world to kick my tourist butt back into high gear.
More reading: My favorite coffee in Ecuador
8 Hair-Raising Coffee Experiences Around The World
Here are eight unique coffee experiences from around the world. If you identify with the group of ‘coffee obsessed traveller’, get your pens out and start adding these to your bucket list.
1. Nitro Coffee (USA)
We’ll start our caffeinated pilgrimage close to home in Astoria, Oregon – the birth ground of the hottest new craze in the coffee industry – ‘Nitro Coffee’.
No, it’s not something from a scene from ‘The Fast and the Furious’, but rather the result of a process whereby cold brew coffee is infused with nitrous gas bubbles as its pressurized and pushed through a chilled beer tap!
You may be the victim of weary eyeballs from unaware bystanders while you drink what looks to be a Guinness at 8:15 in the morning, but your experience will be much more positive.
Nitro cold brew involves a soft, fluffy and crisp taste, followed by possibly the biggest ‘coffee high’ you’ll ever experience as the caffeine absorbs into your bloodstream at record time due to the nitrogen.
Check out: The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing (Coffees Explored, Explained and Enjoyed)
2. Vietnamese Egg Coffee (Vietnam)
Most have heard of the sweet and creamy Vietnamese coffee — or its counterpart, Vietnamese iced coffee — but Vietnamese egg coffee has yet to flare into such fame; however, that is not for a lack of deliciousness.
Similar to its better-known iced cousin, Vietnamese egg coffee includes sweetened condensed milk, but it also has a little something extra (I’m sure you can guess what it is). The name is no joke, there is real, straight-out-the-hen’s-butt egg in this coffee.
It is made almost the same way as regular Vietnamese coffee, yet the sweetened condensed milk is mixed with raw egg yolk and then poured into your brew. Although the thought of drinking egg may make you cringe, this coffee has a smooth, creamy texture and a delicious sweetness.
3. Turkish Coffee (Turkey)
After talking about something sweet, I felt it necessary to follow up with a coffee known for its super strength and bitterness. If we were to do a side-by-side comparison of all the drinks on this list, Turkish coffee might look the least appetizing, but as you (an experienced traveller) know: never judge a book by its cover.
This coffee is the king of unfiltered coffee, because the extra, extra fine grounds are dumped right into your mug. Boiling hot water is then added and the whole mixture is stirred, producing a dark and muddy beverage.
Turkish coffee is one of the oldest methods of brewing coffee, and it has remained unchanged for good reason. Although strong enough to put hairs on the chest of your newborn cousin, this coffee has a deliciously powerful taste unlike any other.
Check out: The Curious Barista’s Guide to Coffee
4. Affogato (Italy)
Walking into an Italian cafe and hearing the endless clinking of stir sticks in espresso cups, it is immediately apparent that Italians like their coffee sweet. So it should be no surprise that someone down the long line of history came up with the idea to combine espresso with Italy’s most well known treat: gelato.
The affogato is the culmination of a culture steeped — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — in espresso and devoted to sweetness. It is simply espresso poured over gelato.
This simplicity sets it apart from the milkshakes and frosties you grew up on, and gives it a taste that is brightly sugary, delicately smooth, and sharply bitter all at the same time.
5. Irish Coffee (Ireland)
Although I’ve crowned Turkish coffee the strongest, Irish coffee is a close second, though for different reasons. This coffee concoction will turn your cheeks red, and (if you’re not careful) knock you right out of your seat, because Irish coffee contains a generous amount of Irish whiskey.
Before you curl your tongue at this odd mixture, I can assure you that the Irish know how to make a good drink. Along with the whiskey, Irish coffee also calls for a pinch of brown sugar, and a liberal amount of whipped cream.
Crafted correctly, you will be able to taste both the coffee and the whiskey, with the sugary cream dampening their harshness, but it’s not a good choice if you work abroad and need a pre-work productivity caffeine hit!
6. South Indian Filter Coffee (India)
We’ve spent enough time in the West, so now it’s time to hop back east for a redefining of a familiar term. In the States, saying “filter coffee” conjures up images of a soaked bed of grainy coffee grounds slowly dripping through a cone-shaped paper filter, but in south India, “filter coffee” means something entirely different.
South Indian filter coffee (AKA Kaapi) is brewed in a metal filter — similar to those used in Vietnamese coffee drinks — and includes chicory, which slows the overall brew time and, therefore, produces a stronger cup than American filter coffee.
Once the brew is done filtering, it is mixed with boiling milk and a bit of sugar (optional) by pouring the decoction back and forth in long, flamboyant arches, between two cups. This pouring gives the Kaapi its bubbly look and creamy taste.
7. Malaysian White Coffee (Malaysia)
Image credit: Alpha, Flickr
Though this coffee drink may sound like something you’ve tried at Starbuck’s, in reality it is like nothing you’ve tasted before. Malaysian White coffee gets its name not from its color, but from its specific bean roasting requirements.
The Mandarin word for white (Bái) also means “without,” and Malaysian White coffee beans are only roasted in margarine, without the other additives (sugar and wheat) that go into most other bean roasts. This method of roasting brings out a more layered taste and a strong aroma in the brew.
Due to the lack of sugar and wheat in the roasting process, some also consider Malaysian White coffee to be healthier than many other coffee drinks. However, this (debatable) health factor is ruined if you add sweetened condensed milk, as some do.
8. Kopi Joss (Indonesia)
Image credit: Ivan Lanin, Flickr
Despite all the strangeness on this list, each coffee drink I’ve introduced includes edible ingredients (where is he going with this?). The Kopi Joss, a novelty hailing from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, is coffee with a burning hot piece of charcoal tossed in it (because why the hell not).
Compared to many other coffees, Kopi Joss is simple to prepare: hot water is added to almost equal parts powdered coffee and sugar, and then a fresh-out-of-the-fire piece of charcoal is dropped in. The charcoal is said to help revive one’s strength, and gives the Kopi Joss an (ahem) interesting flavor.
The health benefits of drinking coffee have been well researched and there are dozens of products containing ‘Activated Charcoal’ in most American pharmacies, so it’s not hard to imagine that there may be some truth to the supposed health benefits of Kopi Joss.
Along with a list of “dear diary” worthy coffee experiences, you now also have a list of exciting destinations, so get out there and enjoy!
Have you tried any of these coffee drinks on your travels? Do you know of any that I didn’t mention? In the comments below tell me about your own global coffee experiences.