Coffee has proved to be good for human bonding. It mixes uncommon and usually disassociated elements: increased ability to focus and the comfort from holding something warm. It has also proven to be good for our health. For most people, drinking one to two cups of coffee per day provides enough antioxidants to steer away from cancer and other diseases caused by cellular malfunctions. The downside of too much coffee is the disruption of sleep and the high acidity could upset your stomach, but neither effect would occur for one or two cups, it would depend on individual tolerance levels.
The relationship between coffee and humans is quite unique. There are plenty of traditions around coffee throughout the world. The oddest one I’ve found is in Turkey, where it is tradition for a bride to brew coffee for her soon to be in-laws. If she is not happy with the union, she will put salt instead of sugar in the grooms’ coffee. The hope is that by drinking it, he will know her true feelings; and if he drinks it without complaining or even changing his facial expression, he proves his manliness. What happens next is between the bride and groom, as they are the only ones who know if his coffee was sweet or bitter. Is this related to the being salty reference? I do not know.
Fortunately, I’ve never had salt on my coffee, and I feel for all the manly Turkish gentlemen who have subtly sipped their salty brew in front of their parents and fiancé. But the point is that coffee has become an integral part of cultures throughout the world, and it seems like everyone has developed their own ways to enjoy it. Here are some of the most unique but traditional coffee recipes I’ve found.
Spain: Café Bonbon.
This one is surely going to wake you up! Cafe bonbon is made with dark brewed coffee, sweet condensed milk, and creamer. It is served in a tall clear glass where you can notice the three layers. Sweet condensed milk does not blend with the coffee on its own, only when stirred. That makes this coffee an easy way to offer an eye-spectacle to the people around you. It is also ideal to serve it after lunch, as it easily works as a desert and the caffeine will aid with digestion and to skip the Spanish favorite post-lunch siesta.
Vietnamese Egg Coffee.
During the Vietnam War there were milk shortages across the nation. People seeked for non-dairy alternatives for their coffee and eventually came up with the now traditional Vietnamese Egg Coffee. The drink consists of egg yolk, sweet condensed milk, and coffee. Sweet condensed milk managed to prevail during the shortages as it could be stored and preserved for way longer than regular milk and other forms of fresher cream. If added enough egg yolk, this drink could turn into a powerful breakfast, yet I believe most dieticians would suggest adding some fruit or toast.
Sweden and Finland: Kaffeost.
Both countries are celebrated for their practice of fika and hygge. Traditions of being cozy inside and enjoying a coffee or tea break. Given how long winters are in these countries, the lack of daylight during the winter, and the fact that the body consumes more calories warming itself up, it is also unavoidable for bodies to crave more sleep. As an unavoidable consequence, these Scandinavian countries also hold the title for being one of the largest coffee consumers and they drink it with cheese curds. Simply place a few cheese curds in a mug and pour some freshly brewed coffee on top. The cheese fat lowers the coffee’s acidity (important if you are drinking it in large quantities), and the coffee softens the cheese. The exchange of flavors between coffee and cheese are what make this drink so unique.
The one thing all these recipes have in common is the fact that coffee has assimilated and contributed to these countries' cultures in particular ways, and all have made of coffee a drink of their own national identity. With this large cultural variety of coffee drinks developing throughout the world, how could we have ever tried it all? That is a challenge I will happily to take on.