Around the World in Coffee Cafés
Whether you are buying fresh coffee beans or taking a cup to go, your trip to Italy, Ethiopia, Colombia, or Vietnam is just a subway ride away.
Light roast, dark roast, drip coffee, cold brew, macchiato, latte, espresso, americano, Arabica beans, Robusta beans. It seems to me that there are more iterations of coffee throughout the world than there are lipsticks in my makeup drawer— and that’s surely saying something. Coffee beans contain versatile flavor profiles that create all kinds of different coffee experiences depending on personal taste, whether you like your cup of joe rich, light, bitter, sweet, or somewhere in between. Shopping for coffee is like taking a trip to the candy store, except your options stretch across the entire globe instead of just a few supermarket aisles.
You could go on an international coffee tour, but if you live in New York City, you’re lucky to have a lot of these options close to home. Whether you are buying fresh coffee beans or taking a cup to go, your trip to Italy, Ethiopia, Colombia, or Vietnam is just a subway ride away.
Hungary: Hungarian Pastry Shop
A cozy nest close to my campus at Columbia University, Hungarian Pastry Shop is a quaint café home to many coffee dates, thesis essays, and fluffy baklava pastries. The Hungarian coffee is a perfect warm treat for the fall season, infused with almond, spiced with cinnamon, and topped with a dollop of fresh cream. If you’re looking for a sweet treat to complement the nutty flavor profile of the coffee, my recommended guilty pleasure at Hungarian is the flourless chocolate cake.
Vietnam: Nguyen Coffee Supply
After having my first sip of Vietnamese iced coffee by chance at a bubble tea café on campus, I began to search for the Vietnamese je ne sais quoi in coffees throughout the city— and luckily, Vietnam is the number two source of coffee beans on the planet. Made using a French style siphon, Vietnamese coffee combines bitter, earthy coffee beans with sweetened condensed milk to create a rich and lush finish, packed with notes of caramel and dark chocolate.
Luckily, Nguyen Coffee Supply does all the traveling so you don’t have to— from growing their coffee beans in Da Lat, Vietnam to roasting in Brooklyn to brewing right here in Manhattan at Cafe Phin. Next on my international coffee tour is their ube iced latte made with purple Filipino yams that give the drink a pastel purple hue and a sweet balance to its bitter Robusta beans.
Colombia: La Colombe
Colombia’s warm, tropical climate makes the country a fruitful hotspot for growing mild varieties of Arabica coffee. As the third exporter of coffee in the world, Colombia is a common choice for many daily coffee drinkers because of the well-balanced flavor profile and standard caffeine amount (Arabica beans only pack half the punch of Robusta beans!). You can easily get a taste of Colombia in pharmacies, supermarkets, and cafés across America through the Philadelphia-based company, La Colombe. If you’re on-the-run, grab a can of La Colombe’s Oatmilk Draft Latte— you get the creamy, full texture of a specialty drink without the heaviness of a dairy product. Even better, oat milk is the most sustainable milk option!
The absolute origin of the coffee bean lies in the fertile plains of Africa, where modern day Ethiopia is located. Coffee is such a foundational pillar of Ethiopian culture that traditional coffee ceremonies are still held to this day, utilizing frankincense, clay coffee pots, fresh popcorn, and a spoonful of sugar until the coffee is brewed to perfection.
Surely, the best place to get this kind of experience is in Ethiopia itself, but New York boasts Ethiopian cafes and food hubs in almost every borough. You might as well get your coffee fix in a restaurant where you can also indulge in some of the spicy vegetable dishes beforehand, like Awash on Amsterdam Ave (which is also in close proximity to Columbia University — so you might as well visit!). With a complex flavor profile of blueberry, jasmine, cinnamon spice, bergamot, and cocoa, your coffee may be all the dessert you need.
For the busy New Yorker who doesn’t have the time for café stops, you can brew at home! UK-based CruKafe provides organic, fair trade coffee packed in 100% recyclable aluminum Nespresso capsules. Coffee is the second most consumed drink on the planet after water, so founder Bodil Blain reminds us that “if you are going to consume a specific product every day, it is so important it is eco-friendly and of high quality.”
Her personal favorite? Drip coffee with the organic Honduran coffee. Honduran coffee is mild and well-balanced, similar to Colombian coffee, but it also has a sweet flavor profile with notes of hazelnut and vanilla. With a personal coffee cup, you can have a taste of Honduras with you everywhere you go on your NYC International Coffee Tour— AKA just a standard 9 to 5 work day in the city.
Teresa Deely is a junior at Columbia University majoring in English and Creative Writing. As President of the Columbia University Glee Club, she loves to sing, make music, and celebrate multiple modes of artistic expression. She believes that one’s skin is yet another canvas and vehicle for art, and has loved styling her hair and applying makeup from a young age. While she has spent most of her time in educating youth and leading enrichment programs for children, she is highly motivated in discovering new ways to care for herself and sharing them with others.