TL;DR – More than just Kopi-O
Growing up among kopitiam uncles (or aunties) hollering orders of kopi o, kopi gao or teh o peng and enjoying a scrumptious spread of soft boiled eggs and kaya toast with our families is the Singaporean’s version comfort food. It is a pleasant assault on our senses with distinctive aromas of coffee and slightly burnt toast wafting about us. The clanging of metal spoons in glasses is a comforting symphony accompanying the familiar sights of people zipping around sending food to tables or clearing tables.
What if our daily dose of caffeine came with lemon peel? Or an intoxicating blend of coffee and indigenous ingredients? I know it sounds strange, almost sacrilegious to suggest you take your coffee any other way, but here are 5 ways other ways to have your coffee from around the world.
Doppio. That’s Italian for a double espresso. It is the go-to drink for generations and millions around the world. But what if your daily order came with a sliver of lemon rind? Rumour has it that during the Second World War, American soldiers stationed in Italy were not accustomed to the taste of espresso. Adding a lemon peel made it more palatable for them with the acidity cutting through the coffee. Strangely it is not traditionally served in Italy but instead, it is available in some North American restaurants.
What do you get when combine equal parts of espresso and condensed milk? It won’t be a surprise if the first drink that popped into your head is the Vietnamese drip coffee. However in Spain the locals affectionately call it Café Bombon. Legend has it that the beverage originated in Valencia and slowly gained popularity across the country. Here’s another interesting ground of history: the Cochinchina Campaign in 1858, was the precursor for the Siege of Saigon. The French, along with their Spanish compatriots, were at war with the Vietnamese militias. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to infer that Café Bombon was the spiritual predecessor to what we know today as café da.
Franziskaner meaning Franciscan Monk in German, is a concoction of either a single or double shot of espresso wearing a crown of billowy whipped cream. It is the Austrian interpretation of an espresso con panna, an Italian beverage made in a similar fashion. The name is a derivative to describe the colour of the Franciscan monk’s habit, a brown hue that results when milk is added to dark, almost copper-coloured coffee, which in this case is the espresso.
Café de Olla
Just like how a simple brew of hot water and tea leaves transformed into a symbol of revolution during the infamous Boston Tea Party, Café de Olla came to be known as the epitome of sustenance for soldiers who fought during the Mexican Revolution.
The drink comprises cinnamon, piloncillo (a raw cane sugar indigenous to the region), coffee and chocolate along with a sprinkle of cloves. All the ingredients are added into a clay pot to be roasted thoroughly.
It is rumoured to be the favourite drink of Emiliano Zapata, a man considered by many to be responsible for leading the charge during the Revolution. Who knew an innocuous drink played such a significant role in Mexican history?
Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony
This may just be a cup of coffee for some but to Ethiopians, it is an elaborate yet mesmerizing display of artistic preparation bestowing a spiritual aura to this liquid ambrosia.
It is considered to be an honour to invited to the abovementioned ceremony and a perfect embodiment of Ethiopian hospitality. They hold friendship and respect in high regard so this is a way to eloquently express their feelings.
Natives of Ethiopia gather together during these functions as to welcome the arrival of their guests. If you are fortunate enough to be one of the attendees, it is highly recommended you excuse yourself after having 3 cups of coffee. They believe the third one has been imbued with a powerful blessing.