To seasoned professionals and discerning amateurs alike, one of coffee’s greatest appeals is its simplicity. One single agricultural product is able to introduce your palate to thousands of distinct and nuanced characteristics without any added sugars, flavoring agents, or genetic engineering (although there are many food scientists who have created special hybrid varietals to increase yield and plant resilience in areas where coffee plants are subject to diseases like leaf rust). And if your goal is to experience all of the deep and exciting complexities a coffee has to offer, your best plan of action is to manually brew it on your preferred device with care and attention to detail. But sometimes, it can be fun to change things up, to deviate from your own routine, and experience coffee through the eyes (or mouths?) of other cultures from around the world. So instead, set aside your preconceived notions of how a coffee should be prepared according to western standards and enjoy your coffee prepared in one of these unique methods from different corners of the globe.
1. Café de olla is a traditional Mexican coffee drink that is often served during celebrations or special occasions. The name "café de olla" means "coffee from the pot" in Spanish, referring to the traditional clay pot in which the coffee is brewed. To make café de olla, ground coffee beans are brewed with cinnamon sticks, cloves, and sometimes orange peel in a clay pot or olla. The mixture is brought to a boil and then simmered for several minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. Once the coffee is brewed, it is typically strained and served hot in clay mugs called jarritos. The spices used in café de olla give the coffee a unique flavor that is both sweet and spicy, with a hint of citrus. The drink is often sweetened with piloncillo, which is a type of unrefined brown sugar that is commonly used in Mexican cuisine. Some variations of café de olla also include anise or vanilla for added flavor. Café de olla is a popular drink during the holiday season in Mexico, and it is also enjoyed throughout the year as a comforting and flavorful coffee beverage.
- 4 cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2-3 cloves
- 1/2 cup ground coffee
- 1-2 tablespoons piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar)
- Optional: orange peel
- In a large saucepan, combine the water, cinnamon stick, cloves, and optional orange peel. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.
- Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low and add the ground coffee to the pot. Stir the mixture and allow it to simmer for 5-7 minutes.
- After simmering, remove the pot from the heat and allow the coffee to settle for 2-3 minutes.
- Strain the coffee through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a large measuring cup or another pot.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of piloncillo to the coffee and stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Serve the café de olla hot in small cups or mugs.
2. Brazilian mocha cola is a drink with more questionable origins. When did it originate? Is it actually from Brazil? Is it a product of Tik Tok? I’m really not sure. But coffee and cola have been used in unison in varying beverages for a long time, and this Brazilian Mocha Cola amps this iteration up to a new level. It is made of cold coffee, cola, chocolate milk, and if you so choose, an additional scoop of vanilla ice cream. This drink really gives the classic affogato a run for its money. Here is how you can make a Brazilian Mocha Cola at home.
- 1 Cup of strong, chilled coffee (try a 1:8 coffee ratio, find at the bottom of the page)
- 1 Can of Cola (Coke, Pepsi, RC Cola, Faygo, your choice)
- 1 Cup of Chocolate Milk
- 1 Scoop of Ice Cream (replace with ice if you’re feeling boring)
- Pour your coffee into a large glass
- Pour your chocolate milk into the same glass
- Pour your cola into the glass
- Add ice cream if you want
3. Mazagran is a cold coffee drink that originated in Algeria in the 19th century. It is typically made with coffee, lemon juice, and sugar, and served over ice.
To make mazagran, strong coffee is brewed and mixed with sugar while it is still hot. Lemon juice is then added to the mixture, and it is allowed to cool. Once the coffee has cooled, it is poured over ice and served in a tall glass. Mazagran is a refreshing drink that is popular in many parts of the world, including Portugal, where it is often served with a slice of lemon and a dash of rum (try a NA spirit like the ones we have in the Populace Pantry). In some versions of the drink, soda water is added to the coffee mixture to give it a fizzy, carbonated texture.
- 1 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled (1:8 ratio)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
- Ice cubes
- Lemon slices
- In a pitcher or large measuring cup, mix together the cooled coffee, lemon juice, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
- Taste the mixture and adjust the amount of sugar to your liking.
- Fill two tall glasses with ice cubes.
- Pour the coffee mixture over the ice cubes, dividing it evenly between the glasses.
- Stir the coffee and ice together until well combined.
- Garnish each glass with a slice of lemon.
4. Ca phe sua da, also known as Vietnamese iced coffee, is a popular coffee drink in Vietnam. It is made with strong, dark-roasted coffee that is brewed with a small metal drip filter called a phin. The coffee is typically mixed with sweetened condensed milk and served over ice. To make ca phe sua da, a layer of sweetened condensed milk is added to the bottom of a glass, followed by a small amount of brewed coffee from the phin. The mixture is then stirred to combine the milk and coffee. Ice is added to the glass, and the remaining coffee is poured over the ice. The resulting drink is rich, creamy, and sweet, with a bold coffee flavor. Ca phe sua da is often enjoyed as a refreshing drink on hot days, and it is also a popular dessert coffee. It can be found in Vietnamese restaurants and cafes around the world, and it is often served with a spoon to help mix the sweetened condensed milk into the coffee.
- 1 cup of strong brewed coffee (1:8 ratio)
- 2-3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
- Brew your coffee however you’d like, just make sure it’s strong. You can make cold brew (see recipe below). Or use a french press or a pour over brewer. Just make sure it is stronger than normal coffee.
- While the coffee is brewing, add 2-3 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk to a tall glass.
- Once the coffee is done brewing, pour it over the sweetened condensed milk in the glass. Stir well until the milk is fully mixed with the coffee.
- Add ice cubes to the glass and stir again.
This one is really hard to mess up. It’s just coffee, ice, and sweetened condensed milk. For our vegan or lactose-adverse friends, you can even find sweetened condensed coconut or oat milk these days. Look for it at your local health foods store or order it online!
5. Kaffeost is definitely the strangest drink on the blog today. Kaffeost, also known as "coffee cheese" or "Finnish cheese curds," is a traditional food from northern Finland and Sweden. It is made by heating milk and rennet, a congealing agent, together to form curds, which are then strained and formed into small, bite-sized pieces. The curds are then dried and stored.
When serving kaffeost, it is typically heated up and then placed in a cup or bowl. Hot coffee is then poured over the cheese, creating a unique and… interesting drink. The cheese curds soften and absorb the coffee, creating a chewy, slightly salty texture that complements the earthiness of the coffee. Some people also add sugar or cinnamon to the mixture for added flavor. People have been putting butter in coffee for a while now, so cheese doesn’t seem that far off. Fat is good at coating your palate and softening the blow of a rich coffee flavor. Hence a whole milk latte tasting 10 times better than a skim milk latte. Kaffeost is often served as a snack or dessert, and it is a popular winter drink in Finland and Sweden. While it may sound unusual to those unfamiliar with it, kaffeost has been enjoyed by people in the region for hundreds of years and is considered a cultural delicacy. Want to give it a try for yourself?
Don’t feel like making your own leipäjuusto cheese with rennet? I don’t blame you. Here is a cheater version that uses mozzarella instead:
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- Strong brewed coffee
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Spread the grated mozzarella cheese in a thin layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake the cheese in the oven for 5-7 minutes until it starts to melt and turn golden brown.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cheese cool for a few minutes.
- Break the cheese into small pieces and place them in a serving bowl.
- Brew a pot of strong coffee. (doesn’t need to be as strong as cold brew, a 1:12 or 1:14 ratio would be fine)
- Pour the hot coffee over the cheese.
- Let the cheese soak in the coffee for a few minutes until it softens and starts to melt.
- Use a spoon to scoop out the cheese pieces and enjoy them with the coffee.
Bonus: Here is a recipe for easy cold brew coffee at home. This will come in handy for many of the recipes for cold coffee drinks listed here that call for “chilled, strong brewed coffee”.
- Coarsely grind 100 grams of coffee.
- Measure out 800 mL or 800 grams of cool, filtered water.
- Combine in a pot, pitcher, french press, or similar.
- Stir until evenly mixed.
- Let steep together at room temperature for 18-24 hours.
- Filter using a fine mesh strainer with a cheesecloth or pour through a coffee filter into a Chemex or similar device.
- You have strong coffee, cold coffee! For normal cold coffee, dilute with water 60/40 coffee to water, it isn’t rocket science so dilute to taste.
- For use in any recipe mentioned above, leave undiluted.