Ashley Fritz | Sep 22, 2021
An avid iced coffee lover myself, I find myself craving a chilled glass of almond milk-mixed coffee at virtually any hour of the day. Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have a hold on me and most of America! This became a bit of an issue during my studies abroad in France where iced coffee as we Americans have come to know it is nonexistent. I typically do not enjoy the average hot coffee, but I became accustomed to ordering a warm café au lait on my way to class since my best attempt to order a “café glacé” still did not turn up the result I was hoping. In fact, most local Parisians only looked confused when I asked – even at McDonald’s.
This got me thinking – how would one go about attempting to order an iced coffee in other countries, like France, where the Starbucks-es and Dunkin’s of America have not monopolized the iced coffee market? While iced coffee is a norm in the U.S., it is an oddity for many in other countries who are more familiar with espresso shots and hot cappuccinos, so ordering one takes a little more strategy than it does locally.
For anyone who - like me - needs their iced coffee no matter where they are, here are 7 ways to ask for an iced coffee around the world.
Summers in Spain can get hot, but if you’re looking to cool off at a Dunkin’ you won’t have much luck. Spain is better known for its café con leche, a hot drink made with espresso and milk. If you find yourself wandering the streets of Spain in search of a chilled drink, you can try stopping to ordering what the Spanish consider iced coffee. That is, a cup of coffee with a glass of ice on the side. You will want to ask for café con hielo. It may not be quite what you’re looking for, but it’ll get the job done once you pour the warm espresso over the chilled ice-filled glass.
Living out your Mamma Mia dreams in Greece when the iced coffee craving hits? Fortunately, chilled coffee drinks aren’t as foreign to Greek coffee lovers as they are to those in other countries. Frappes are popular in Greece. Not only are they popular, they are actually Greek by origin! The Frappe was invented in Greece and remains a popular order. So, if you can settle for a frappe, you will have a lot of success. If you’re searching for a true iced coffee drink as you have come to know and love, you may try ordering a freddo cappuccino or a freddo espresso.
Ordering coffee of any kind in Italy sounds intimidating because…it’s Italy! You can’t go wrong with anything you order, but you may have a bit more trouble getting something akin to your favorite iced Starbucks drink. Much like other countries, the Italian iced coffee is simply a hot coffee drink poured over ice. If you are hitting Greece and Italy in the same trip you will have an easy time remembering your coffee order as they are almost exactly the same! When looking for an iced coffee drink in Italy, use your best Italian skills to order a caffè freddo or a cappuccino freddo. Basically, you’ll want to have the word “freddo” in your back pocket.
Ice cream and coffee…together. That is the Australian iced coffee. So, if you’re looking to kill two birds with one stone to really cool off on a hot day then this is the perfect solution. Ordering an “iced coffee” in Australia will likely provide you with a coffee drink poured over scoops of ice cream and cream. This sounds delicious, but may not really be what you are looking to drink. Instead, ordering an iced latte will be closer to the Americanized drink. Similarly to what you will find in other countries, this is simply coffee poured over ice that will be mixed with chilled milk.
Imagine you pay no mind to my own failure story of my search for iced coffee in France, and you persist in the search on your own French adventure. You are sadly very unlikely to find a café, patisserie, or restaurant with waiters and waitresses eager to accommodate an iced coffee order. It’s not entirely impossible, though. Asking for un café glacé may turn up yet another version of hot coffee poured over a couple iced cubes. If you get strange looks – like I did throughout my weeks in Paris – try simply ordering a hot coffee or espresso and asking for an extra glass with ice (les glaçons).
Here’s another country that has turned iced coffee into not only a drink but a delicious dessert. Don’t ask a local German for an iced coffee if all you’re looking for is a chilled coffee mixed with milk and a little sugar. It’s more than that when you’re in Germany. A German iced coffee is called Eiskaffee. This is another coffee and ice cream mix that provides a delicious break from the heat in the summer. All you need for a German Eiskaffee is cold coffee, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream!
The Japanese have had their own take on iced coffee for a long time. It is not quite what one would consider cold brew, but it is close. If you’re looking for iced coffee in Japan, know that it may be a stronger coffee than your usual iced coffee. It is easy to make yourself and only involves a couple steps. It is simply coffee that is brewed right over ice using less water (about half the usual amount). The result is something light, like a tea, that doesn’t necessarily need any milk to be complete. Try the Japanese take on iced coffee whether you’re in Japan or you’re just in search of something with a strong coffee profile.
In summary, the iced coffee you may be used to ordering at the Starbucks drive thru is likely not to be found on your next European vacation. There are ways to work around this, though, and still fulfill your coffee craving until you return home. Take advantage of the chance to try something new and enjoy the best that local coffee-lovers have to offer wherever you may find yourself. Though I was disappointed by the lack of iced coffee awareness in Paris, I find myself missing my authentic French café au lait and chocolate croissant every day!