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How to drink coffee like an American

There are a few things that any nation is proud of more than their coffee culture. From French bistros to Australian coffee shops, it seems that every nation has their preferred way of enjoying their morning cup of Joe. Of course, it’s only natural that the birthplace of the world’s most prolific chain of cafes would have their own style of coffee drinking.

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Maybe you’ve already sampled a traditional Turkish coffee, and have the full meaning of the Italian espresso down to a ‘t’ (no pun intended). But, do you know how to drink coffee like an American? We spoke to the international coffee packaging connoisseurs at The Bag Broker to find out what makes the American coffee culture different.

What is an American Coffee?

Lots of people think that a Caffè Americano is how Americans must usually drink their coffee. These are made by diluting an espresso with hot water to make it last longer. The majority of people will add sugar and milk or cream, but many people prefer to drink it black.

Actually, this drink is believed to have originated from when American G.I.s were sent over to Italy during World War II and attempted to make the short espresso more closely resemble the coffee they drank at home. If you talk to the majority of Americans, they’ll be more familiar with drinking coffee from a filtered drip machine than adding separate hot water to an espresso!

In the morning

In America, the first coffee of the morning is usually consumed at home. To enjoy it authentically, you’ll need to ditch your electric kettle (for some reason these have never caught on in the ‘States) and invest in a drip machine. These are simple enough to use: simply pour your grounds into the filter, add water and switch it on. You get to control the strength and how much coffee you make – although most drip machines are designed with a large glass carafe so you can enjoy your brew with the rest of your household (or at least leave it for someone else to enjoy when they get up).

On the go

If you’re living a busy city lifestyle, you might not have time to make your own coffee at home. Although it’s not quite as prevalent as it is over in Australia, plenty of Americans will nip in past a local coffee house on their way to work.

Obviously, there are well-known chains like Starbucks (or Dunkin’ Donuts if you want a sugary snack to start the day), but there are lots of independent places and less-known chains to choose from. Seattle’s Best is known for producing great classic black coffee from signature blends, while Caribou Coffee focuses on sourcing high-quality beans to serve 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee.

During the day

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The Coffee Break is essentially an American civil right. Taking ten or fifteen minutes away from your work to brew a coffee (still usually via a drip machine, but possibly using a French press) is a standard part of the day. If you’re to enjoy your coffee like a true American, make sure you schedule a couple of coffee breaks throughout the day, preferably with a couple of friends or colleagues to have a quick catch-up before you go back to the grind.

How to get an American coffee abroad:

If you want to enjoy an American-style coffee while travelling, you’ll have to be very particular about what you order. For example, Australians are very proud of their own coffee culture and will give you blank looks if you reject their steamed milk and ask for a serving of cold milk.

Italy is the simplest order, where you can simply request an Americano and get what you need (the hot water may be served on the side) – just don’t expect to drink it on the go. In France, you’ll want to ask for a “cafe allongé”. These aren’t quite as strong as an espresso but will give you more of a kick than an Americano. You should be able to get a long coffee in Greece (as most places use espresso machines) but will need to explain that you want your espresso topped up with hot water. You can read more about ordering American coffee around the world here.

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