Updated: Apr 13, 2021
Starting our day requires many morning rituals, from getting dressed to brushing our teeth, one thing is always present, a beverage that has been traditional since its discovery: Coffee.
Some people enjoy it with milk, some with cream, others with sugar, the amount of combinations that can be made are almost infinite yet one choice remains a baseline for anyone that enjoys coffee: hot or cold?
To this day that question creates more arguments than any other coffee related enigma. "Coffee can only be truly enjoyed hot! That's how it's supposed to be!" some will tell you, "Nonsense! Cold coffee helps the caffeine stay intact which makes it a more efficient way of drinking it!" others will say, but do we know where do both choices come from? Well then sit back, brew yourself a nice cup of coffee and relax while you read this!
The two Legends of Coffee
Most people you ask today will tell you that coffee beans come from South America, specifically Colombia. That the first coffee beans were discovered in this region. That is simply not true. Experts to this day can't pinpoint the exact location of where coffee originates yet two places have been on the runner-up for said throne: Ethiopia and Yemen.
In Ethiopia people talk about Kaldi, a legendary goat farmer from the region of Kaffa that first discover the properties of coffee when he noticed how his goats got excited whilst chewing on wild coffee beans. In Yemen the legend starts with Sheikh Omar being exiled from the port city of al-Mahka. Sheikh Omar took refuge in a desert cave where he found wild coffee beans, at first he tried chewing the beans, but they were too bitter. He then tried roasting the beans, but they became hard. Lastly he tried boiling them until they were soft, which resulted in a fragrant "infusion". Sheikh Omar was revitalized by this liquid and sustained for days. Word reached al-Mahka and he was allowed to return with his findings.
Of course this are just legends, we might still have to wait a couple of decades more for an answer on that question. What I can answer you right now is who made hot coffee popular and who invented cold coffee. The answer may surprise you. It was the Ottomans and the Greeks. Maybe it won't surprise you that much.
A nice Hot Turkish Coffee
Hot coffee spread to the entire Mediterranean region because of the Ottoman empire. To this day any coffee sort that is brewed in a Cezve is considered to be a Turkish Coffee. The Ottoman empire brought this tradition to all corners of their conquered lands, from the Balkans all the way to the Levant region. Finely grinding coffee beans and brewing them in a Cezve obtaining Turkish coffee remains the world's most famous way of brewing hot coffee.
Eventually the Italian city-states and the Arabic caliphates will develop their own ways to make coffee such as the espresso, the cappuccino and the Arabic coffee (adding some cardamom seeds), yet the beginner (as far as we are aware), the granddad of allthem is still the Turkish coffee.
Frappe is Greek
Cold brew coffee is extremely popular nowadays, coffee shop franchises have created a whole business of selling frappuccinos with increasingly ridiculous amounts of exotic ingredients and impossible to pronounce names (looking at you Starbucks. Just call them small, medium and large you weirdos). Yet none of them actually invented this product nor did it come from France or Italy.
In reality, it was created by a Greek bartender in Thessaloniki somewhere around 1957 and 1958. His name was Dimitris Vakondios, he presented his creation at an international food and drink festival, but because at the time Vakondios was employed by Nestle, the company at once claimed it as their product and gave it a French name: Frappe.
If you find yourself in Greece or Cyprus be sure to enjoy one of Vakondios' beverages, and remember to call it Greek coffee. Can't let Nestle win.
Ethiopian, Yemeni, Colombian, Greek, Italian, Turkish, Slavic, Arab, let's all Enjoy it!
I don't think it matters how you prefer your coffee, sometimes is nice to warm yourself up with a hot cup and others is too hot outside to not have a chilling cold brew, one thing is for sure: We all enjoy coffee. Throughout this article I mentioned many countries and their ways of brewing coffee, it seems we have here yet another thing we all have in common as people of this world.
It doesn't matter where you find yourself, you can always bond with anyone through a cup of coffee. Almost every country has developed a special charismatic way of brewing it, even my country, Mexico, has is own unique way called cafe de olla.
I said it once and I will keep on saying it: people of every nation we are not that different, in fact we have much more in common. Let us enjoy that with a nice coffee.