Coffees, lattes, and cappuccinos aren’t the only brews worth sipping.
The Flat White: it’s an old Australian favorite—steamed milk over espresso—and a popular down-under drink. But at your local stateside Starbucks, it’s the latest menu addition grabbing headlines.
Overseas, sipping styles differ, but caffeine’s health benefits remain a constant, touted by health professionals and experts alike. Studies show that a moderate amount of the stimulate can protect your heart, fend off death, protect you from diseases like type 2 diabetes or Parkinson’s, strengthen your brain, and even boost your performance.
So why not switch up your cup? From decadent drinks served at special occasions, to tea-coffee mixes, these international caffeine concoctions may pique your interest.
Yuanyang (Hong Kong)
In China, coffee- and tea-lovers meet in the middle with this sweet and flavorful staple—otherwise known as coffee with tea. The name is said to refer to Mandarian ducks—birds that usually appear in pairs and tend to look very different from one another. The beverage is made with milk tea, black tea, and coffee. It’s delicious hot or iced.
Kopi Luwak (Indonesia)
Although it sounds far from gourmet, Kopi Luwak—beans harvested from the feces of a civet, a small Indonesian cat—is one of the most expensive coffees in the world, says Anthony Bianco, author of the blog The Travel Tart—Offbeat Tales From A Travel Addict. The “exotic” process by which the coffee is made makes it not only rare, but proponents of the product say that by passing through the animal’s digestive system, you’re left with a smoother taste and more citric acid—known to make a cup of joe more flavorful.
“In the semi-tropical zone in Bolivia, the locals who harvest coffee beans save the outer husk (or dried berries from the coffee plant), dry it, and soak it as you would tea twigs and leaves,” says Jacquie Whitt, co-founder of Adios Adventure Travel. The resulting hot beverage: a cherry tea with less caffeine than your regular coffee that the coffee farmers drink. It’s often mixed with cinnamon and clove.
Turk Kahvesi (Turkey)
Caffeine-lovers who sip their coffee black will be in for a treat with this thick, Turkish staple. It’s made from finely ground beans and sugar, heated and served in a long-handled pot called a cezve.
This green tea drink, innate to the northwestern region of south Asia, is made by boiling green tea leaves with saffron, cinnamon, and cardamom pods. It’s a popular breakfast beverage, but also drank at special occasions and later in the day.
Caffeine in Italy isn’t about the kick: It’s used more to aid in digestion. In fact, a true Italian espresso contains about half the caffeine as an American cup of drip coffee. Make it at home with fresh ground coffee, water, and a moka—a special percolator that sits on the stove and boils water through the coffee.
It may sound like a hangover cure, but strong black coffee, an egg yolk, and a little bit of honey make up this Austrian coffeehouse staple. Some bars even serve it with a shot of cognac, to boot.