Travel

Habla Café?

How to order coffee anywhere in the world
Coffee Around the World
Illustration: Alex Schorndorf/Tasting Table

This October, Tasting Table is getting away from it all. Come away with us as we explore the world of travel.

Maybe it was the airport that closed all the bars at 9 p.m. Maybe it was the unreasonably suspicious customs guy who made you so nervous you almost told him the wrong last name. Or maybe it was the luggage carousel of despair that failed to produce, well, anybody's luggage.

Whatever your travel woes, one thing's for sure: When you finally get to that unicorn of a destination, you need a big, comforting cup of nature's happy water (otherwise known as coffee). And depending on where said destination is, you may find yourself utterly dumbfounded about how to order your precious dose of caffeine. Even worse, you may have stumbled into a particularly pretentious coffee culture, where tourists live in fear of the barista's judging gaze.

Fear not: Our handy guide to the world's coffee terminology and ordering techniques should ensure your travels are always caffeinated the proper way.

Australia/New Zealand
Australasia is serious (dare we say snobby?) about its coffee. Throughout Australia and New Zealand, coffee culture is a booming (hyperactive) force. And Aussies and Kiwis are not afraid to express how proud they are of their joe: It's not uncommon to hear them loudly making digs at U.S. coffee, primarily because of their hatred of the drip stuff. And it doesn't help that their café menus are loaded with code words seemingly put in place to stump tourists.

Flat White: There's some debate between the two countries about the flat white's origin (who invented it? was it really just a "failed cappuccino"?). But in both countries the little latte is one of the most popular ways to get a caffeine fix. It uses the same amount of espresso as a typical latte but with less milk, so the coffee-to-milk ratio is greater, allowing the subtle flavors of the espresso to shine.

Long Black: It's essentially an Americano, but don't be caught saying that. Instead of adding hot water to espresso, the espresso is added to the hot water, allowing it to retain its crema.

Italy
The coffee rules in Italy are pretty substantial, and you don't want to be singled out for not following them. First off, don't order a latte (you'll get a cup of steamed milk), don't order decaf and don't even think about ordering to-go. Italians drink their espresso standing up at the bar and slowly enough to savor that sweet java. Oh, and definitely don't order an Americano. It essentially translates to "tourist."

Cappuccino: In Italy, it's not what a cappuccino is (that would be espresso with steamed milk and milk foam) but when to drink one. Italians consider the milky beverage to be a breakfast drink, never taken in the afternoon or after a meal. If you want to order coffee with milk past 10 a.m., order a macchiato (espresso with only a dollop of foam).

Caffè Shakerato: For Italy's hot summer months, a shakerato is a cold beverage made with espresso, a little simple syrup and a lot of ice, shaken until frothy and served often in a martini glass.

Caffè Corretto: Corretto translates to "correct" and is a shot of espresso with a shot of liquor, typically grappa.

Cuba/Miami
So apparently you can go to Cuba now, although getting there is still not quite as simple as hopping on a plane. But when the time comes that you can book a trip with a click of a button on a travel app, you're going to want to know how to order coffee. In the meantime, head to Miami, which is awake right now only because of its thriving Cuban coffee culture.

Cafecito: Also called café Cubano, the cafecito is Miami's lifeblood. It's strong and sweet Cuban coffee served in a very small cup (you don't need much) and ordered for breakfast, lunch, after dinner or whenever you happen to pass a coffee counter.

Colada: You'll need a few friends for this one. Meant for sharing and typically served after dinner, it's a large portion of sweetened Cuban coffee served in a pitcher alongside a stack of tiny plastic cups that look like thimbles. Again, you need only a thimble-size sip for the potent battery-acid brew to perk you right up.

Café con Leche: Although the translation is simply "coffee with milk," the drink is so much more. It's a breakfast staple in Miami and consists of strong-brewed coffee that is sweetened while being brewed, then mixed into a 1:1 ratio of coffee to steamed milk.

Turkey/Middle East
Turkish coffeehouses have been around for almost five centuries, so you don't want to just waltz in and order a Frappuccino. And though the method of preparing Turkish coffee is a long-standing tradition, most Turks drink cup after cup of black tea. Coffee is never consumed before breakfast or on an empty stomach, and is typically ordered only as an after-dinner drink.

Turkish Coffee: Ordered as Türk kahvesi, it is an intensely strong, unfiltered coffee made in a special cezve (Turkish coffeepot), brewed slowly over a low flame. It's important to specify that you're ordering Turkish coffee so as not to get confused with instant Nescafé, which has become widely popular due to its comparative ease of preparation. Also, if you'd like to sweeten your Turkish coffee, you must specify so in the beginning, along with the desired level of sweetness. There are three options: black/no sugar (sade or şekersiz), medium sweet (orta şekerli) or sweet (şekerli). And don't even think about asking for milk or cream: Turkish coffee is strictly taken black.

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Vietnam
Unlike certain locations that judge your coffee consumption based on the time of day, in Vietnam, the coffee scene is buzzing from morning to late-night. Its cafés are more social gathering hubs than hunker-down-with-your-laptop-by-yourself spots, and they offer a multitude of caffeinated beverages, served alongside complimentary glasses of iced green tea.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee (Ca Phe Sua Da): Vietnamese coffee is made by using dark roasted beans coarsely ground and put into a phin filter. Similar to a pour-over method, hot water is poured into the filter and allowed to slowly drip into a single-serving amount. The brewed coffee is then poured over ice and topped with sweetened condensed milk—a staple back in the 1800s when fresh milk wasn't readily available. The resulting drink is silky, sweet and strong.

Vietnamese Egg Coffee (Ca Phe Trung): More dessert than breakfast, egg coffee is prepared by whipping egg yolks, condensed milk, Vietnamese coffee and sugar. It's a thick, creamy drink reminiscent of eggnog, if eggnog got you buzzed.

New Orleans
In between your hurricanes and po'boys and live music, you're going to need something to perk you up, and the city's chicory coffee is just the thing (or we recommend the 25-cent martini lunch at Commander's Palace, but it's your call).

Chicory Coffee: There aren't many things worth standing in line for, but Café du Monde is one of them. In preparation of a full day of eating and drinking in NOLA, the landmark café is famous for precisely two things: beignets and chicory coffee. And it's integral that you order both. The nutty coffee is lighter in body than most roasts and pairs perfectly with the powdered sugar-covered pillowy doughnuts of joy.

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