Europe has an intense coffee culture, and rightfully so. Given it’s importance on the continent, it’s no surprise that there are many different ways to enjoy caffeine goodness, and many countries have their own specialties.
The base coffee drink for most of your favorite caffeine beverages starts with espresso. If we are talking about coffee in Europe, that is where we must start.
Country of Orgin: Italy
If you've ever been to Europe, and ordered a simple coffee, chances are you were brought a double shot of espresso instead. This is a simple coffee in Europe. The way we are used to coffee in America is not the same and in order to get something similar to our grande watered down version, you would need to order a Cafe Americano.I’m not a fan of straight espresso, but will sometimes order it after a meal in Europe just to fit in.
Here are 5 of my favorite beverages, in random order, and the best place to experience them.
Number 1: Cappuccino
What it is: A cappuccino is made with a shot of Italian espresso, and topped with equal parts frothed and steamed milk. This is my caffeine fix of choice in Europe. It was also my introduction to coffee when I used to spend my summers in Italy, and found these one euro treats to be the perfect combo to my days.
Where to enjoy it: What’s important to remember if you are enjoying this cup of deliciousness in Italy, it’s birthplace, is that this is a drink to be enjoyed at breakfast— perhaps with a sweet pastry, or as a mid-morning pick-me-up. Later in the day, stick to a straight espresso or risk the side eye from all Italians.
Number 2: Eiskaffe
What it is: If you desire dessert and coffee at the same time, this is your drink. Made by mixing cold coffee with evaporated milk and sugar, you then pour this sweet goodness over a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and add whipped cream.
Where to enjoy it: Headed to Germany in the summertime? Make sure you spend your afternoon at an ice cream parlor and get a little afternoon pick-me-up that is certain to not disappoint. I lived in Cologne, Germany for three summers and this coffee addiction certainly added a couple of extra pounds, but it was SO worth it!
Number 3: Cortado
What it is: A cortado is a shot of espresso, with just a touch of steamed milk to reduce the acidity of the espresso. It should be prepared at a ratio of 1:1. The world cortar means “cut” in Spanish, and if you are like me and find straight espresso to be a little much, try this instead.
Where to enjoy it: This coffee drink has it’s origins in Spain, and is very popular throughout Spanish speaking countries. The next time you find yourself in Barcelona and it's a tad too early for sangria, take a seat in one of the busy squares and sip on this as you people watch to your hearts content.
Number 4: Frappe
What it is: This cold, frothy drink is made by shaking instant coffee, cold water, sugar, and ice together and then pour in a glass and add milk to taste. The important point here is that it must be shaken — never stirred. The foam is crucial.
Where to enjoy it: In my first years out of college I spent a bit of time in Greece with a college teammate who was from there. Every day we would go to a cafe, sit outside, and order these drinks that seemed to be a little too tasty for their own good. At the time I had no idea what was in them, but she assured me it was what I must order. It’s the perfect choice for those hot mediterranean days that are meant to be enjoyed outdoors and with friends.
Number 5: Cafe Creme/Cafe au lait
What it is: A cafe creme is simply an espresso with a bit of frothed cream or milk added. What makes it different than a cappuccino is that there is no steamed milk as well.
Where to enjoy it: If you are in France, the cafe creme may also be known as a cafe au lait. It could be served in a large cup or even a bowl, because the proper way to enjoy is by dipping your croissant in, and scooping up some of that frothed goodness. This is also a drink best enjoyed in the AM, according to the French.
As you travel throughout the world, make it a point to try some different coffee concoctions, varieties, and beverages. You might pick up a few new favorites to add to your java arsenal.