Coffee around the world - Asia - part 2

Today we’re heading from India up through the Middle East and Russia on our way to Europe.

A country now known globally for tea production, coffee was a thriving industry in Sri Lanka in the mid-1800’s, to the extent it was nicknamed the “Coffee rush”. Unfortunately a fungal disease devastated just about every coffee plantation in the country a few decades later, destroying entire businesses. The pursuit for a replacement crop for those left standing (many business owners could not recover and eventually suicided) ultimately led to the country becoming the fourth largest tea producer in the world. You can still find the odd café serving lattes and cappuccinos though, usually with an accompaniment of cardamom or ginger.

Arabic coffee is steeped in tradition and guided by ritual. If you’re an expat living in an Arab country, you will learn the etiquette surrounding the serving and drinking of “Gahwa”. After gaining popularity in the 16th Century, coffee was then banned by the Ottoman Empire until 1839. It differs from other coffee in taste, cup volume and preparation. Turkish coffee is prepared with a layer of foam, called the “face”. The Lebanese prefer to drink once-boiled coffee without foam, but they drink it in much larger quantities.

Around the Persian Gulf you’ll find coffee blended with cinnamon, green cardamom and saffron. You’ll normally be served dates to eat afterwards to counteract the bitter coffee, which also isn’t served with milk.
While the traditional methods are still practiced, if you venture to somewhere like the United Arab Emirates you’ll also find locals and expats walking around their air-conditioned malls with a giant Starbucks cup in hand.

Russia is a big nation of tea drinkers; however their coffee market is growing with thanks to the global take-away coffee culture. Russia is also the world leader in instant coffee consumption. Interestingly, they’ve been fans of coffee liqueur for much longer, although I did find out that the famous Black Russian and White Russian cocktails didn’t actually originate here, rather the use of the popular Russian spirit vodka, inspired the drink’s name!

We’ve covered a lot of ground, but there’s still so much more to go, with some seriously big coffee nations yet to get a mention. Next time!

Kate Lovell