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Six international coffee styles to experiment with at home

From an earthy, spiced Mexican brew to the coffee-tea hybrid beloved in Malaysia, seek out inspiration for your next caffeine fix with our quick guide to international brewing techniques and ingredients. 

By Katie Lockhart
Published 4 Jun 2020, 08:00 BST, Updated 15 Mar 2021, 16:34 GMT
Vietnam's Cà phê đá, commonly known as egg coffee, is said to have been created in the ...

Vietnam's Cà phê đá, commonly known as egg coffee, is said to have been created in the 1940s in response to a milk shortage (whipped egg and sugar are used instead).

Photograph by Getty Images

Who else could use a little pick me up? Now that we’re all spending copious amounts of time at home, we could all stand to spice up our morning routine — literally, in some cases. Photogenic coffee concoctions have been popping up on Instagram feeds, and quirky brewing methods are becoming social media crazes. If you’re in need of a little inspiration, spin the globe and you’ll find it, as signature coffees from Mexico to Malaysia provide caffeine-lovers with plenty of ideas for new recipes to try. While some ingredients may be more difficult to source, spicing up your daily coffee fix may prove well worth the effort. 

1. Cà phê đá, Vietnam

Commonly known as egg coffee, this popular Vietnamese drink is as satisfying as it is sweet. It’s said to have been created in the 1940s, during the during the First Indochina War, in response to a milk shortage (whipped egg and sugar are used instead). To make this dessert-like creation, beat egg yolk and sweetened condensed milk to a thick, custard-like consistency. Then, pour on top of robust Vietnamese black coffee and enjoy with a spoon.

2. Mazagran, Algeria

With the weather unseasonably warm, this iced coffee-lemonade could be just the answer to any coffee cravings. Its origins can be traced back to the French invasion of Algeria in the 1800s, when French soldiers were stationed in Mazagran, Algiers. The Portuguese later devised their own version of the beverage. To make it, add freshly squeezed lemon juice to cold brew concentrate, along with sugar to taste. Some recipes also recommend adding a dash of sparkling water — and if you fancy, a little rum. Serve over ice and garnish with a slice of lemon.

The traditional Mexican beverage of café de olla is best achieved in an earthen clay pot that gives a special flavour to the coffee, although any pot or pan you can use on a hob will do.

Photograph by Getty Images

3. Café de olla, Mexico

In accordance with tradition, this Mexican coffee recipe should be brewed in a clay pot, as it imparts a specific flavour that pairs perfectly with the cinnamon and brown sugar it contains. If you don’t have an earthenware container, though, then any other pot or pan you can use on the hob will do. Heat a mixture of water, cinnamon and brown sugar, then once it starts boiling, add dark roasted coffee and stir. Let it steep for a few minutes and strain before serving.

4. Dalgona, South Korea

This concoction is a true craze, with TikTok videos and Instagram posts dedicated to frothy coffee creations. It’s made by whipping equal amounts of instant coffee powder, sugar, and hot water until it becomes creamy, then adding to cold or hot milk. For a masterclass on how to make dalgona, look no further than James Hoffman, the World Barista Champion and owner of London’s Square Mile Coffee Roasters. His demonstration can be viewed on his Instagram.

5. Kopi cham, Malaysia

Why choose between tea and coffee when you can have both? Kopi cham, as it’s called in Malaysia — or yin yeung as it’s known in Hong Kong — can be made by combining equal parts coffee and tea before adding condensed milk. Some recipes call for one-third coffee and two-thirds tea, but it’s a matter of personal preference. Try it at home with some espresso, black tea, and either milk and sugar, or sweetened condensed milk, to really transport you to the kopitiams of Kuala Lumpur.

6. Pharisäer, Germany

More of an after-dinner drink than a morning pick-me-up, this is Germany’s answer to Irish coffee. It’s said to have originated in North Frisia in the 1800s, when a farmer created the drink to hide his consumption of liquor from the local pastor during a baptism celebration. For a traditional cup of pharisäer, add rum to hot, strong black coffee with some sugar and a dollop of whipped cream on top. Most recipes recommend about 60ml of dark Jamaican rum, and that the drink be served in a glass cup or mug.

Love food and travel? Taste the world at the National Geographic Traveller Food Festival, our immersive culinary event taking place on 17-18 July 2021 at London’s Business Design Centre. Find out more and book your tickets.

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