Caffeine 101: A Lesson In Israeli Coffee

I’m not a coffee snob.

While I may consider myself a snob of many other things (including apples and smoothies), I don’t even pretend to know what I’m talking about when it comes to coffee. Give me a white chocolate mocha or a frappucino and I’m ready to go. The regular stuff is far too bitter for me, though I sense it’s an acquired taste that I’ll gain in the future.

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College students are pretty much wired to have coffee addictions. Late nights, early mornings, and endless study sessions leave our bodies begging for a dose of caffeine to the bloodstream.

Growing up, neither of my parents drank coffee (or even tea), so I was never really introduced to that lifestyle. While some people require a cup of joe first thing in the morning in order to get through the day, I’m still not entirely sure how my parents get by (though I imagine it has something to do with the thought of seeing my lovely face).

The weather is always sunny and hot in Tel Aviv, so it’s the perfect city for dining al fresco. You can walk down any street and find numerous cafes dotting the sidewalk, some chains like Aroma or Arcaffe and others that are family-owned and run.

It’s a wonder that anyone ever gets any work done in this city, because the cafes are always full and people linger at tables in the shade for hours.

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Just because it’s hot outside doesn’t mean people don’t drink hot beverages. I still can’t quite wrap my head around it, but you’ll see many café-goers with cappuccinos and pastries or beautiful latte art in the foam of their 140 degree drinks in the 90 degree weather.

Then we run in to the peculiar phenomenon that is Israeli iced coffee.

It’s something that every American runs into when they come to Israel. You find a nice café, you order an iced coffee, and you make small talk at the table. You’re expecting a coffee over ice, but what you get when the waiter comes back is essentially a coffee slushy.

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In Israel, an iced coffee is literally an iced coffee. They’re available at almost every café or kiosk and they’re super refreshing in the Tel Aviv heat.

A cold coffee, on the other hand, is what you thought you were ordering when you asked for an iced coffee. It’s coffee over ice. Coffee on the rocks. Coffee that is cold. Cold coffee. This kind of brew is often accompanied by a small cup of sugar water to use as a sweetener.

When you think about it, it actually makes sense. Iced coffee is coffee blended with ice. Cold coffee is coffee that’s cold. They’re both a great way to cool off in the summer, but it’s a good idea to know what you’re ordering so you’re not surprised when you end up with coffee slush.

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