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Coffee Drinks from around the world - South America

Coffee Drinks from around the world - South America - Coffee Life, a blog by EspressoWorks

Travel the World through Coffee - South America

Though coffee didn’t originate in South America, it has quickly become one of the most commonly cultivated plants in the region. Thanks to a combination of perfect geography, ideal topography, and the right weather conditions, South America (in particular, Brazil) has become the world’s leading region for coffee production. With so much coffee to go around, you can bet that South America has a thriving coffee culture with several unique coffee drinks found nowhere else in the world. Let’s take a look at four of these special beverages that you may never have heard of, but are beloved classics in various regions of South America!

1. Café de Olla

Café de olla, which translates roughly as ‘coffee from the pot’, is a traditional drink that is popular in parts of Mexico. Typically found in cold and rural parts of the country, this sumptuous drink is served nice and hot to ward away the cold, and is made with a blend of aromatic spices and a special kind of sugar called piloncillo.

How to Make It:

Boil a cup of water in a saucepan and add in cinnamon sticks, cloves, and a star anise pod. Use a measuring spoon to add in two teaspoons of piloncillo sugar (or brown sugar if you can’t find piloncillo sugar). 

After five minutes, add in ground coffee. Make sure to use a burr grinder so that your coffee grounds are nice and fine. Stir the mixture for an additional five minutes as you lower the heat and let everything simmer down. 

Finally, use a cheesecloth to strain the liquid and pour it into a clay pot, or double-walled glass so you can enjoy it nice and hot (as it was intended to be consumed) without burning your hands. 

2. Café Cubano

Café Cubano, Cafecito, or Cuban coffee is a staple drink in Cuba and consists of a strong shot of espresso topped with a decadent crema. The drink is so popular that it’s commonly ordered after every meal! People even drink café Cubano as a dessert, and enjoy social meetings with friends and family over some of this flavorful coffee! The star attraction is the crema at the top, which adds a smooth, sweet, foamy contrast to the powerful espresso flavor.

How to Make It:

You’ll want to start by brewing strong espresso. You can either use a Moka Pot or an espresso maker. Just be sure that if you use an espresso machine, you use a tamper to pack in the coffee grounds nice and tight for a concentrated shot.

To make the crema, whisk one tablespoon of sugar with a little espresso. You can use a handheld frother to make the process easier, or just beat the milk and sugar by hand. Once the crema has a pale, thick appearance, stir in the remaining espresso and pour it into an espresso cup to enjoy!

3. Tinto

Tinto is the working-class coffee of choice in Columbia since it provides a cheap, quick, pick-me-up at any time of day. The word Tinto translates roughly as ‘inky water’, which describes the dark coloration of the coffee. Despite Columbia’s major export being coffee beans, Tinto is made with low-grade coffee and is sold by street vendors rather than by coffee shops.

How to Make It:

Tinto is made by ‘cooking’ coffee grounds in a pan of boiling water. As mentioned earlier, in Columbia, Tinto is usually made with low-quality coffee beans. However, if you have something nicer stored in an airtight container at home, you can use that, instead. The coffee is then strained and stored in thermoses to be sold. 

In your case, you could just make an entire thermos of Tinto to enjoy slowly throughout the day, or you could even store it for consumption later. 

4. Cortado

This is a unique drink that has actually spread in popularity throughout many parts of the world. Originating in the Basque region of Spain, Cortado spread in popularity to other places like Portugal and Cuba. These days, you can even find Cortado in large coffee chains like Starbucks. But what exactly is Cortado? 

Cortado consists of a 1:1 ratio of espresso and hot milk. The word Cortado actually means ‘to cut’, and describes the way the milk cuts through the sharp espresso to dilute the flavor and make it gentler on the palate.

How to Make It?

Begin by grinding down some coffee beans and using a digital scale to measure out 15 grams to produce a double shot of espresso. Extract your espresso in an espresso measuring glass to ensure you have the perfect ratio of espresso. 

Next, steam any milk of your choice and pour it slowly onto your espresso. Feel free to use the same espresso measuring glass after steaming your milk to ensure an exact 1:1 ratio. 

That’s it! You can now enjoy a classic cortado!

Try Something New to Avoid Deja Brew

Why always stick to the same coffee recipes when you could take your taste buds on a trip to South America? You may not be able to travel there, but you can at least enrich yourself with some local coffee culture from around the region! Give any of these simple, yet delicious coffee recipes a try and you’ll find a new drink to espresso yourself within no time!