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Coffee Is Steeped In Tradition Across Latin America, Here Is How Each Country Brews The Perfect Cup

OK, so we’re in like Week 12 of lockdown and some of us may have taken up new hobbies and interests to help pass the time. For me, that’s been getting to know a good cup of home-brewed coffee. Plus, the draw of a warm, delicious cup of coffee can definitely help you get your day started with that often much-needed shot of caffeine.

Many coffee experts agree, that now is the time to familiarize yourself with all the traditional coffee methods from around Latin America and figure out which one you like best.

Latin America is one of the biggest producers of coffee beans, but surprisingly, coffee isn’t a big part of life here, with the exception of Cuba, Brazil, and Argentina. But those who do enjoy their coffee, have a wide array of traditions when it comes to preparing that perfect cup.

Like the millions of people and cultures of the world, coffee too has its own variations and traditions surrounding it. Here is a glimpse of how it is prepared and consumed in different ways all over the planet.

Argentina

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Maté may be the official national beverage, but coffee drinking is a refined, lingering art in Argentina’s cafes.

The country’s capital, Buenos Aires, has always been Latin America’s coffee capital and long before any neighboring nation even knew of the existence of a ‘latte’, Porteños were sipping macchiatos (called lagrimas) and café con leche like it was nobody’s business. The city has always offered the best coffee in the entire continent – mostly due to its influx of Italian immigrants who brought with them the traditional techniques of coffee brewing.

Brazil

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Unlike much of South America, coffee is very popular in Brazil, with many Brazilians preferring a cafezinho – a strong and very sweet coffee. And it kinda makes sense considering Brazil is the world’s largest producer of the stuff.

Coffee is consumed all through the day, in dainty little cups, with or without meals. Coffee added to a glass of milk is often served for breakfast to kids as young as 10 years old. Though American-style coffee culture and drinks are gaining popularity, walking while eating or drinking is a strict no-no in Brazil

Colombia

Colombia, known for its great, versatile coffee beans, likes its coffee black with lots of sugar, in small cups. It’s known as tinto and it will leave you awake for days…

Colombia’s coffee culture only recently got off the ground. Prior to 2003, the country’s best beans were only exported and Colombians only had access to the leftover beans. But this has changed and coffee culture is a huge part of Colombian identity.

Cuba

Cuba may be best known for the cafecito – or Cafe Cubano. This very strong drink is a type of espresso coffee that first developed in Cuba after Italians arrived in the country.

The Cafecito beverage is made by sweetening a shot with Demerara sugar, during the coffee brewing process. There are variations on the method including a variety of recipes. The Demerara sugar is traditionally added into the glass into which the espresso will drip so the sugar and espresso mix during brewing which is said to create a unique and smooth quality.

Guatemala

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Guatemalans aren’t huge consumers of coffee. And those who do drink coffee tend to drink it as much of the world does – as a latte or shot of espresso.

However, Guatemala is revered for its superior quality and complexity of flavors. It’s a step above the rest, because many coffee fincas (plantations) still harvest beans in the most traditional of ways. The nation’s highlands are where you’ll want to head and – luckily for you – where you can experience the country’s long-held passion for coffee and discover some of the most magnificent landscapes in the entire continent. The most popular region for coffee lovers to visit is Lake Atitlan, a spectacular area framed by three volcanoes.

Mexico

In Mexico, coffee is often brewed with cinnamon and sugar. The cinnamon and sugar aren’t merely added to the coffee after brewing, but they’re incorporated right into the brewing technique. The result is a coffee that’s at the same time sweet and spicy. 

Cafe de Olla is the national coffee drink and it varies from state to state but it’s definitely a must to try if visiting the county. But it’s also easy to make at home!

Venezuela

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At one point, Venezuela rivaled Colombia in terms of its coffee production. However, those days are long gone and now the country produces less than 1% of the world’s coffee (since 2001). Although some Venezuelan coffee is exported, the vast majority is consumed by the Venezuelans themselves. 

Venezuela’s most renowned coffees are known as Maracaibos. They are named after the port through which they are shipped, close to Colombia. The coffee grown in the eastern mountains is called Caracas, named after the country’s capital. 

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