Smart travel tips • October 2017
While a morning caffeine fix is common practice almost everywhere, the cultural significance of drinking a cup of coffee – and its preparation techniques – can vary wildly from country to country. Coffee expert and author Lani Kingston spills the beans on the etiquette of coffee consumption around the world, from espresso-mad Italy to the leisurely ceremonies of Ethiopia
It’s no wonder coffee traditions run deep in Ethiopia, birthplace of the bean. Coffee is freshly roasted over a fire by hand and then brewed in a clay pot called a jebena. The master of the ceremony deftly brings coffee to the boil over and over, and then the dark, syrupy brew is poured through a horsehair filter into tiny cups. This ritual can be repeated (and go on) for hours and is the ultimate show of friendship, so ceremonies are often held at home.
Get your caffeine fix: Chat with anyone on the street in Addis Ababa, and odds are they will invite you inside for coffee. Just make sure you have an afternoon to spare – and a high caffeine tolerance.
Modern coffee drinkers think mainly of espresso-based beverages, but the steam-powered machine that extracts this pure, rich shot has only been around for just over a century. Coffee brewing used to be a slow process, so, in the 19th century, European inventors started looking at ways to speed it up – and so the espresso was born in Turin. This small shot of coffee can be prepared quickly and delivers a caffeine hit in one gulp, which led to Italy’s standing-room-only espresso bars.
Get your caffeine fix: Make a beeline for belle epoque Caffe Torino on Piazza San Carlo and order a traditional bicerin (made of espresso, milk and chocolate).
As the birthplace of Starbucks, Peet’s and a number of other influential roasters, Seattle is the epicentre of the US coffee movement. The culture is espresso-based, but unlike in Italy, it’s more of a sit-down affair: cafés often attract laptop-toting creatives who use them as an office, plus they offer a social space for friends to meet. Espresso is often paired with milk, flavoured syrups and toppings – you name it, you got it.
Get your caffeine fix: Head to Anchorhead Coffee (pictured) to sample its signature bottled cold brew.
While Vietnam’s love of coffee is rooted in its 19th-century French occupation, the country is now the world’s second-largest exporter of coffee, thanks to the vast number of plantations in its Central Highlands. Because fresh milk was not as readily available in Vietnam as it was in France, espresso was poured over sweetened condensed milk along with, due to the hotter climate, ice, and this is how cà phê đá (Vietnamese iced coffee) is still enjoyed around the country today.
Get your caffeine fix: Stop off at i.d Café, a tropical hideaway where the house special is made with peanuts, whipped cream and chocolate.
Home to a rich coffee culture since 1652, London’s original coffeehouses were raucous and lively. Coffee tasted burnt, over-extracted and was described as ‘syrup of soot’, but thanks to the evolution of its speciality coffee scene, the city is now a major player on the world stage, boasting innovative techniques, independent cafés and barista champions.
Get your caffeine fix: Try the city’s current obsession – a flat white – while perched at a converted (and well-cleaned) Victorian urinal at The Attendant (pictured), one of London’s quirkier coffee bars.
London Coffee by Lani Kingston (Hoxton Mini Press, £20) is out in October