Coffee Traditions from Around the World

Coffee Traditions

Coffee can be found in all corners of the globe and is a universal language as every culture has coffee found somewhere in their midst. However, there are so many different ways to enjoy this bean brew as you travel from country to country and region to region. Take a trip around the world with coffee and learn all the magnificent ways to enjoy this delicious brew.

India – Filter Coffee

india coffee

According to legend, coffee first made its way into India in the 17th century by way of a holy man named Baba Budan. He managed to smuggle 7 coffee beans in his robes out of Yemen. Once planted, they grew and thus India now had coffee! Filter coffee is traditionally enjoyed in South India, brewed using a two-part vessel called a filter. Coffee is put into the upper chamber and hot water poured through it and dripped into the lower part of the vessel. This potent ‘decoction’ is then mixed with milk and sugar and served in a metal tumbler.

Cuba – Cuban Coffee

cuban coffee

Coffee was introduced to Cuba in 1748 when Don José Gelabert started the first coffee plantation with beans from the Dominican Republic. Later, French and Haitian immigrants arrived and helped Cuban coffee farms improve their growing methods. Cuban coffee is made by putting sugar into the espresso cup or pitcher and then pulling an espresso shot over the sugar and stirring. This causes the sugar to caramelize and creates a thick and sweet coffee that is served in espresso cups or besito cups (besito translates to ‘little kiss’).

Mexico – Café de Olla

coffee in mexico

Traditional Mexican coffee, called Café de Olla (Pot Coffee) because of the clay pots they are brewed in, which adds an earthy texture to the coffee. Cinnamon and piloncillo, a type of unrefined sugar, are also added to give the drink some sweetness. Coffee was originally introduced to Mexico in the late 18th century when the Spanish brought plants from Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Mexico is now the largest producer of organic coffee in the world, accounting for about 60% market.

Vietnam – Cà phê đá

vietnam coffee

Cà phê đá, translated means ‘iced coffee’ but is commonly known in the states as Vietnamese coffee, is brewed using dark roasted and coarsely ground coffee in a small French drip filter called a cà phê phin. Made one cup at a time, it is typically brewed over condensed milk and poured over ice. This drink was created out of necessity because when coffee was first introduced to Vietnam in the late 19th century, fresh milk was not always readily available and so condensed milk became the standard option.

Ethiopia – Coffee Ceremony

ethiopia coffee ceremony

Ethiopia is considered the birthplace of coffee. Legend has it, a goat farmer named Kaldi discovered coffee after his goats chewed the coffee beans and became energetic, jumping goats. Kaldi then took a coffee branch to a priest, who threw the demon plant into the fire and the first coffee beans were roasted. The Ethiopian coffee ceremony can be up to 3 hours long and is steeped in tradition. Green coffee is roasted over hot coals and then each participants smell the roasted coffee’s aromatic notes. Afterwards, the coffee is ground in a mortar and pestle and put into a boiling pot called a jebena. Once they have been boiled several times, a filter is placed over the spout to prevent grounds from escaping. This coffee is boiled and served 3 times and often is accompanied by a snack, like popcorn or peanuts.

Japan – Canned Coffee

japanese coffee

Canned coffee first appeared in Japan in 1965, but the canned coffee craze was revolutionized in 1973 when a company called Pokka Coffee created a vending machine that could dispense hot and cold canned coffees. While canned coffees can be found in grocery and convenience stores, in true Japanese fashion, most sales come from the vending machines. Cans are still being dispensed in hot and cold options, along with options for black coffee, low sugar, and the most popular option: milk and sugar.

Turkey – Türk kahvesi

turkish coffee

Türk kahvesi or Turkish coffee is a made by adding finely ground coffee to the pot, called cezve, and boiled with water and sometimes sugar. The coffee is then poured directly into the cup, unfiltered, where the grounds are left to settle before drinking. Turkish coffee is so ingrained in the culture of Turkey that this method of brewing was just called coffee until instant coffee was introduced in the 1980s. They even have a proverb about coffee, saying “Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death and sweet as love.”

Thailand – Oliang

thai coffee

Thailand’s coffee drink is similar to Vietnamese coffee as it is typically served over ice and with condensed milk. Oliang, however, uses a different method to prepare the coffee. The base of the drink is coffee grounds mixed a variety of ingredients including corn, soya beans, and sesame seeds. It is brewed in a cloth sock with a metal ring attached (called a tung dtom kaffee) and steeps for about 10 minutes before sugar is added and it is poured over ice with condensed milk.

Senegal – Café Touba

senegal coffee

Senegal’s traditional coffee drink, Café Touba, is flavored with Kimba pepper and cloves. These spices are roasted with the coffee and then ground. The coffee is then prepared with a filter, similar to drip coffee. The drink gets its name from the holy city of Touba, Senegal and is traditionally consumed by the Islamic Mouride brotherhood. Consumption of Café Touba has increased in recent years, causing sales of instant coffee in West Africa to decrease.

Italy – Caffé

Italian coffee

When ordering a coffee in Italy, be warned that what you will be served is an espresso. An espresso is made by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water through finely ground coffee. This brewing method produces a thicker coffee with concentrated flavors. Espressos are often the base for other coffee drinks: cappuccino, latte, macchiato, etc. In 1884, Angelo Moriondo patented a steam-driven “instantaneous” coffee beverage making device and thus the starting point for the modern espresso machine was invented.

Ireland – Irish Coffee

Irish coffee

Irish coffee is a popular cocktail that was originally invented by Joe Sheridan in the 1940s. When a group of American passengers arrived on a miserably cold winter’s night, Sheridan added whiskey to their coffee to help warm them up. To make a traditional Irish coffee, add coffee, whiskey and a spoonful of brown sugar to the glass, then carefully add cream by pouring it over the back of a spoon to ensure that the layer of cream will float on top of the drink as it is meant to be sipped through the cream.


Explore the world through coffee, then explore the best that American roasters have to offer with BeanGenius. If we missed your favorite coffee tradition, please let us know in the comments!



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