The smell of freshly ground coffee beans in the morning is the perfect motivation to start the day. Although a strong, black cup is the one thing I need to get the gumption to crawl out of bed, a foamy cappuccino is definitely the right companion for a piece of cake in the afternoon.
But what about preparing a fiery Ruedesheimer Coffee, an Affogate al caffè on a hot summer’s day, or an Irish Coffee to warm you up? Explore some of the European drinks available and try them out. Make your next coffee a cocktail, when you want to have something a little special instead of your usual java.
The continent’s diversity is reflected in its different drinking habits. Some traditions have made their way beyond the borders of specific countries, like the Italian espresso or latte macchiato, which are internationally known. But there are more than a few drinks that are equally delicious and interesting, although they haven’t made the same cross-country migrations.
Let’s take a tour through some of regions of Europe and their famous – as well as some the lesser known – coffee concoctions.
It is striking that most of the recipes listed below are mixed with alcoholic beverages. However, every drink is different, as every liqueur has its own unique flavor.
It’s definitely interesting to consider why people put alcohol in their coffee. As you will see, many have tried to “spice up” their harmless looking java juice with something a little stronger.
Germany, as is the case in many other countries, has adopted typical coffee drinks like espresso, café latte or latte macchiato. Nevertheless, there are some recipes that reflect a distinctly local influence.
The Pharisee is one of them. What do you think of when you hear this name? Probably not a rum infused coffee drink from Germany…
The drink derives from a North Frisian Island in an area that is heavily Protestant, and it has an amusing story behind it.
The local custom was for the folks in the area to abstain from drinking in front of the clergy. But when it came to ceremonies like baptisms and weddings, guests were looking for more than just coffee.
Local lore says they prepared a drink with rum and put some cream on top to prevent the smell of the alcohol from coming through. When a local preacher became aware of this, he shouted, “You Pharisees!” And the legend was born.
As a representative of my home country of Germany, it’s my patriotic duty to provide you with yet another German recipe. This one has a beautiful presentation and is perfect for serving to guests.
Like the Pharisee, Ruedesheimer Coffee has an interesting origin story as well. It was invented by a person named Hans Adam for a famous brandy-producing company here in Germany. They even launched a special coffee mug for serving this drink.
Feel free to use any mug that is resistant to fire and heat (i.e porcelain). Yes, it is getting fiery up in here!
In Austria, especially Vienna, you will find a world-renowned traditional coffee culture. This cultural tradition was even listed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage in 2011.
Viennese coffee houses also have their own kind of vocabulary, which includes specific tableware, and even simple coffee drinks have special names.
Many varieties are prepared with Austrian-produced fruit liqueurs that have apricot, plum or orange flavors. All of these drinks have illustrious titles that I think retain their romantic effect only when they’re not translated: Maria Theresia, Biedermeier, or Gebirgskaffee.
Served with a slice of chocolate and apricot Vienesse sacher torte, this is an absolute delight.
This last one is also known as Alp Coffee.
If you want to have a truly Austrian experience, here is what you need:
When you try to associate coffee with a particular region, chances are you probably think of Italy. Right?
This is not unjustified as the country is not only the home of espresso, but also of a vibrant coffee culture that is well known all over the world, often associated with a certain atmosphere and quality of life.
Besides the famous espresso, you’ll find its smaller and even stronger relative ristretto, and the aromatic lungo.
You also have the standard latte macchiato, which often causes arguments amongst non-Italians about its correct pronunciation.
The specialty I want to introduce to you is the perfect summertime coffee drink – Affogato al caffè, which means “drowned in coffee.”
This coffee concoction is considered a dessert, and is eaten with a small spoon.
Our next stop is Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands belonging to Spain that has a terrific coffee-based drink known as Barraquito.
When it is made well, this drink looks fantastic as it will have three different layers. These consist of sweetened condensed milk on the bottom, espresso in the middle, and foamed milk on top.
What sets this apart from other similar layered coffee beverages is the fresh note of lemon zest. The liqueur can vary. Tia Maria is often used, a Jamaican liqueur made of coffee beans, rum, vanilla and sugar. Possible variants include Kahlua, Liqueur 43, and Bailey’s.
Barraquito is served in an espresso glass, ideally one that’s transparent so you can see the three layers.
The Emerald Isle is particularly famous for one specialty: Irish Coffee. It is said that this drink originated at an airport where it was offered to passengers who were waiting for their next flight.
It became a worldwide phenomenon when the famous café Buena Vista in San Francisco copied it, and served it as a coffee cocktail.
Naturally for an Irish drink, there is some whiskey included, which is mixed with the coffee before it’s topped with whipped cream. You will need two Irish coffee mugs or two tall tumblers to serve this.
Pharisee, Ruedesheimer, and Barraquito coffee cocktail photos by Nina-Kristin Isensee, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. See our TOS for more details.
About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.