Why upside-down coffee is so popular in Israel
A favorite in many Israeli coffeehouses, café hafuch is the latte's milkier cousin.
In the United States, coffeehouse chains and independent cafés are on corners of small towns and cities alike. Coffee drinkers can even get coffee, lattes, cappuccinos and espressos at fast-food restaurants now. What you may have trouble finding at a coffeehouse in the States is a café hafuch, an Israeli upside-down coffee.
What is café hafuch? It’s often compared with a latte, but it’s creamier. It’s also made in reverse. In a latte, the milk goes on top of the espresso. A café hafuch uses steamed milk on the bottom, and then a shot of espresso is carefully poured on top of the steamed milk. Finally, it’s topped with milk froth as well as nutmeg or cocoa powder. It can be sweetened or unsweetened, depending on personal taste.
Arielle Klein, a freelance social media consultant in the United States, first had café hafuch on a trip to Israel. After hearing about the coffee drink from friends and family, she knew she had to try it.
"I tend to find Israeli coffee less acidic with a smoother taste,” Klein said.
Klein thinks café hafuch's popularity may be due to Israelis' love of pastries. “Really, nothing is better with pastries than a delicious coffee," she said.
Espresso is important in a cafe hafuch, but not as important as the milk. There are four parts milk to one part espresso in this upside-down coffee. (Photo: Sergey_Bogomyako/Shutterstock)
The drink hasn’t been known for that long, though. Espresso didn’t become a common drink in Israel until the 1990s. Along with the introduction of espresso came a growing café culture, one that is unique to the country. Starbucks couldn’t make it work in Israel, closing the last of the six coffee houses it opened in the country in 2003. But the Israeli coffee houses are going strong.
“Every neighborhood has its own amazing coffee places,” said writer and frequent traveler Sarah Rachel.
Recreating café hafuch in the home is something neither Klein nor Rachel has tried. Klein said she might try, but “previous efforts at recreating hafuch’s American cousin, the latte, at home have not gone swimmingly."
That doesn't mean it can't be done, though you’ll need to be able to make espresso and steamed milk in your home to attempt it. Moment Magazine has a recipe, along with the proper ratio of milk to coffee in the drink and a couple of variations on the drink to boot.
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