A worldly morning buzz.
Seeing the world is about experiencing new cultures, but how to achieve that varies for many. Regardless of whether you believe in hitting the most touristed spots or heading off the beaten path, most need a morning coffee. Local cafes are a peek into everyday life—people in a vulnerable haze (just woken up, pre-caffeine)—as well as a taste of the city. While the purpose of giving you a burst of energy is the same across the board, the way in which it’s consumed differs as you make your way around the world.
For those growing tired of mediocre home-brewed coffee, or just needing a change-up, we’re recommending that you reconnect with your travel roots and recreate your favorite drink abroad right in your very kitchen. We’re rounding up the most-talked-about and consumed caffeinated beverages from around the world—from a café Cubano to a matcha latte—and teaching you how to make them at home.
Top Picks for You
This delicacy, meaning “drowned” in Italian, combines your morning pick-me-up with your go-to late-night snack. If you’re looking for a new take on a classic, the caffeinated ice-cream treat is sure to please. To make an affogato at home, you’ll need ice cream—traditional vanilla or coffee-flavored are best—and a shot of hot espresso. Scoop your ice cream into the cup and top it off with a steaming shot of your favorite coffee, and watch as the scoop melts into a sweet, irresistible creamer.
Kopi Gu You
You might know this drink by the name “Bullet Proof Coffee” or from your friend who can’t stop talking about their Keto diet but, though this drink may be gaining popularity in the U.S., its origins can be traced to Southern China. This drink is as simple to make as the name might indicate, with kopi gu you meaning “Coffee Butter” in Hokkien. Creating this drink at home is as easy as roasting your favorite pot of coffee and adding in a slab of butter and a touch of condensed milk—though it might sound like it’ll weigh you down, the idea is that butter will fill you up while providing more energy.
While matcha might be having a moment in the States, this green-tea drink is far from new. Matcha, a green tea that is said to offer a longer but more subtle energy boost than coffee, can be traced back to China’s Tang Dynasty—though the drink can now be found at the Starbucks and Dunkin’s of the world. For those looking for a more traditional matcha than what your favorite coffee chains offer, the best option is doing it yourself. Find a matcha powder that best fits what you’re looking for and consider investing in a matcha-kit. Create your drink by pouring hot water atop your matcha powder and whisking. If a latte is more your style, you can pour your tea over hot or iced milk.
Bubble tea is perfect for an afternoon boost of energy—a sweet treat that offers a healthy dose of caffeine. This beverage, which originated in Taiwan, has gained popularity throughout the U.S., coming in a variety of flavors and styles, and offers a change in pace from traditional tea offerings. To create this drink, you’ll need tapioca pearls, your tea of choice, milk (dairy recommended but not necessary), sweetener, and ice. This guide by Lisa of Health Nibbles takes you through the bubble tea process step-by-step, helping you to create this Taiwanese classic at home. Oh, and don’t forget the bubble tea straw!
We have to mention 2020’s favorite coffee trend which, we must inform you, did not originate on TikTok. This whipped coffee drink got its start in South Korea but quickly jumped to stardom thanks to our phones, boredom, and (to its credit) being seriously delicious. To create this internet sensation at home—you know, in case you hadn’t already—all you’ll need is instant coffee, sugar, warm water, and your milk of choice. It’s equal parts simple, cheap, delicious, and photogenic, a recipe for virality.
Once you go café Cubano, it’s hard to go back. This Cuban beverage is small, sweet, and packs a serious burst of caffeine (it’s double the strength of traditional coffee). Because it offers simplicity, an unbeatable flavor, and what you need to start the day, it’s quickly risen to popularity internationally. The café Cubano doesn’t require much in terms of ingredients, but may take a few test-runs for those still familiarizing themselves with an espresso maker that doesn’t come with pods. For those looking to make it at home (because, unfortunately, not all of us have access to Miami’s best Cuban coffee), I Need Coffee writer Maria-Victoria Suarez walks us through her process of creating this beloved Cuban drink.
Vietnamese Ube Latte
This drink might not be the most traditional on the list but, in a year of doom and gloom, this Instagram-worthy purple drink has brought a much-needed pop of color. Ube is a vibrant purple yam from the Philippines that has an extract that lends color and sweetness to this drink from Cafe Phin. The minds behind this popular beverage help you make it at home, from creating the ube creamer to the Vietnamese coffee (you’ll be snapping trendy coffee pics in no time).
We’re headed back to Vietnam—figuratively, for now—to try our hand at ca fe trung, a.k.a. egg coffee, a sweet and creamy variation of the country’s traditional morning drink. (Before turning your nose up at the idea of coffee and raw egg, keep in mind that many love an egg-white foamed whiskey sour and eating raw cookie dough). Egg coffee is dessert-like, as you create a meringue-esque base with egg and sweetened condensed milk before topping it off with your choice of espresso—Analida walks you through it here. It’s creamy yet light and, though markedly a dessert, offers the energy boost you’d associate with your morning joe.
It’s safe to assume that most coffee drinkers that have made it this far into the list have had a cappuccino or two (or one each morning from your favorite coffee shop). This is all to say that there’s a reason why this Italian beverage has become a coffee-snob staple. It’s not too fanciful, simple enough that you know when it’s really good (or bad). To make this café-staple at home, you’ll need equal parts double espresso and steamed milk, topped off with steamed milk foam—feel free to try your hand at a little coffee art, we won’t judge if your leaf is a little more blob.