Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Malta

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Welcome to Malta, where coffee is more than just a beverage – it's a deeply rooted tradition. Whether you're a seasoned coffee enthusiast or a caffeine novice, this guide will help you navigate the local coffee scene. From the origins of coffee in Malta to the customs and traditions that shape the coffee culture, this guide is tailored to meet the needs of expats. Let's dive in!

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

Coffee has been an integral part of Maltese culture for centuries. The first coffee plantations in Malta can be traced back to the 18th century, and today, coffee is primarily imported from countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Ethiopia. However, there are a few local growers who specialise in boutique blends using beans sourced from local farms in Gozo and the south of Malta. These farms offer guided tours that allow expats to learn more about coffee production in Malta.

Coffee Plantations and Farms in Malta

  • Gaia Delicacies - a local farming cooperative comprising several farms with a strong focus on organic coffee production.
  • William's Estate & Villa Bologna - A multi-generational farm built in the 17th century. It provides guided tours and tastings of estate-grown beans while highlighting coffee harvesting and processing practices.
  • Gozo Coffee Company - A husband-wife duo who grow coffee in their high-altitude farm in Gozo. They offer coffee tastings and tours focusing on agro-ecological farming methods.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

Coffee culture in Malta is diverse and vibrant, with a wide range of styles and flavors to choose from. Here are some signature Maltese brews and blends worth exploring:

Signature Maltese Brews and Blends

  • Affogato - A unique twist on the classic Italian dessert, where a shot of expresso is poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • Fiuli Strambotti - An Italian coffee combination featuring coffee and grappa. This drink is traditionally served in small ceramic cups called Fraschette.
  • Il Cafe Zafferano - An orange blossom-infused infusion served with cake or Amaretti biscuits is a renowned traditional beverage in Malta.
  • The Fortizza - This coffee beverage is based on the 16th-century fortress located in Birgu, Malta.
  • Kanelle Kafe - A Maltese specialty consisting of coffee flavoured with cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

The Maltese coffee culture is steeped in tradition and etiquette. Whether you choose to enjoy a traditional coffee in a local cafe or a cozy self-service spot, it's essential to respect the culture and customs that make coffee drinking so unique in Malta. Here's what you need to know:

Coffee Etiquette and Customs in Malta

  • In a local cafe, it's customary to order coffee at the counter and wait for the barista to serve you. In contrast, self-service cafes allow you to order and make your coffee using machines.
  • Although you can use sugar to sweeten your coffee in Malta, table sugar is not served. It's assumed that coffee is served unsweetened by default. Sweetened coffee can be ordered using the appropriate terminology.
  • In Malta, coffee culture is deeply engrained in social interactions. It's common to see people enjoying coffee with friends, family, or colleagues in a relaxed social setting. Coffee is also served after meals as a form of hospitality.
  • CoINIX cafes are self-service coffee shops popular among the expat community, where you can find hot and cold beverages, including Maltese-style blends and signature specialties.
  • QBIQ Express Cafe is a chain of premium coffee shops in Malta that offer a broad range of freshly brewed coffee blends, pastries, and catered events.

Additional Notes and Recommendations

Here are some practical tips and recommendations for expats looking to immerse themselves in Malta's unique coffee culture:

Coffee Tips and Recommendations for Expats

  • Join local coffee clubs and associations to learn more about Maltese coffee culture and etiquette.
  • Attend coffee festivals and seminars to broaden your knowledge of coffee production, preparation, and consumption.
  • Visit local cafes and coffee shops to socialise and connect with the expat community.
  • Try traditional beverages like Kanelle Kafe and Il Cafe Zafferano to discover unique coffee experiences.
  • Attend consortium events and events organised by coffee associations Meeting Points International - MPI and UIC - International Coffee Organization, WAAS and SCA (Speciality Coffee Association) annually held in Malta allowing expats to connect with local communities and experiences genuine cultural exchange.

Final Thoughts

Coffee culture in Malta is an excellent way to discover the nuances and essence of Maltese lifestyles through a common bond that connects people across borders. It's a language that transcends cultures and languages, bridging the gap between locals and expats. Whether you're a caffeine aficionado or a newbie exploring your first Maltese coffee experience, this guide will pave the way.