While most of us admittedly could barely last through a day without the globally commercialised, yet much needed, Starbucks or Costa Coffee, local coffees play an integral part in most of our diets too. There are some days where you need that fancy cup of Frappuccino; and on others, that bag of Kopi-O-Kosong-Gao.
Just like how many Singaporeans pride ourselves on our food culture, and of course the endless possibilities to ordering coffee from our local eateries, we should indulge in such coffee culture when travelling too.
1) Vietnamese Drip Coffee
Coffee drinking in Vietnam is an art and a test of patience; and is definitely not something to be sloppy about. Coarsely ground beans go into the quintessential metal filter (phin in Vietnamese), which sits on top of the cup. Hot water is added to the beans-filled phin, resulting in strong brewed coffee. Most would drink it sweetened with condensed milk. And yes, while waiting for these aromatic coffee droplets to fill quarter of the cup, take this chance to enjoy the grid-lock of Vietnamese traffic or chat up with the people around you (who are probably waiting for their cup of coffee too).
Although Vietnamese Coffee is yet another colonial French product, like many other of their delicacies, Vietnamese Drip Coffee stays entrenched in their culinary culture.
2) Thai Iced Coffee
Once you had your fair share of Thai Iced Milk Tea, leave some space for Thai Iced Coffee too. Also known as Oliang or Oleang to the Thais, this is almost a staple among the Thais and increasingly, foreigners alike.
It wouldn’t belong to the Thai cuisine if a dish isn’t laden with strong flavours. Oliang is sweetened with many added ingredients such as condensed milk, evaporated milk, soybeans, corned, sesame seeds, and other of your preference.
3) Malaysia’s White Coffee
White Coffee is a well-liked type of coffee which originated in Ipoh, and also had itself established in the likings of Singaporeans. Traditionally, Malaysian style black coffee is produced by roasting the beans with sugar and margarine, while white coffee is only roasted with margarine and served with condensed milk.
White Coffee was pioneered by a Hainanese coffee roasting master in the old coffee shops in Ipoh in the 18th century to cater to Chinese migrants of the Qing dynasty. Nonetheless, don’t be expecting a white-coloured coffee drink, white is only in reference to its roasting methods.
4) Sumatra’s Coffee
Sumatra being one of the largest producers of coffee beans in the world, it is only natural that they have a specialty. Sumatra coffees are traditionally processed with a wet-hulling method (Giling Basah), that leaves the coffee with a higher moisture content as compared to other more popular methods used worldwide. This in turns creates a coffee unique to Sumatra – smoother texture and stronger aroma.
However, there are mixed reviews of Sumatra coffee by coffee drinkers around the world. Though unique, Sumatra coffee remains one of acquired. You’ll never know till you try it!
5) Java’s Luwak Coffee
Hailed as the most expensive coffee in the world with each pound priced between US$100 and US$600, one can only wonder what goes through these beans; or rather what these beans go through.
Luwak Coffee first started in the beautiful islands of Java in the 18th century where the natives let wild Asian Civen cats into the colonial coffee plantations to feast on the ripen coffee berries. These seeds, indigestible to the cats, were discarded in their droppings; which the natives then collected, washed, dried and roasted. The creation of a heavenly cup of Luwak Coffee.
While the taste does not depart greatly from the usual black coffee, the aromatic scent of the coffee beans is accentuated. What’s more, it is a story to tell.