Coffee and travel has become inextricably linked, with travellers spoilt for choice when it comes to getting their daily caffiene fix. From a hot cup fresh from a local farm, an expertly-frothed cup of joe or an intricate coffee ritual, many destinations have made an entire tourism industry around the humble bean, and here are just some of the best destinations for coffee lovers around the world.
For many travellers the cup of coffee is so much more than just a daily pick up. It is a social custom, a reason to travel and something special to savour as much as the destinatiom itself. With specific industries popping up to serve tourists, ecological farming practices and specialty roasts percolating the renewed love of the humble bean, coffee is experiencing a global renaissance and a golden age. This round up of the worlds finest and most popular coffee regions will have every traveller eager to grab a cup to go!
Ethiopia absolutely deserves a top spot on this list as the irrefutable birthplace of coffee. According to legend it was a simple goat herder who discovered the bean when he noticed some of his goats were getting a bit hyper after eating some local plants, plants that we now know as coffea arabica. Today there are entire eco farm lodges in Ethiopia that thrive on the coffee tourism trade, and travellers can experience the hours long coffee ceremony as a form of welcome. The intricate coffee ceremony is a mark of friendship and respect that is performed all over Ethiopia, and is so important that it has almost become obligatory to be offered it everywhere as a visitor, and accepting it just as important. If you are lucky enough to be invited to one, take them up on the offer and prepare to spend a good few hours redefining what it means to get to know each other over a good brew!
Once the biggest exporter of coffee in the world and a major supplier to both the US and the UK, Brazil still has a strong coffee culture. Brazilian coffee is strong and bitter thanks to the low altitude it grown in, and is usually taken with a lot of sugar to counteract the bitterness.
Unlike the US and most of the west there is a strong distrust of all the extra machine made fuss so you won’t find many frothy latte macchiato nonsense here, you’ll just find straight up, simple, strong coffee, and usually served free at any place that serves food as well.
Where better to get your fix of Java than the place that it got its nickname from! Java in Indonesia!
Coffee has been a cultural tradition all over Indonesia since its introducton here in the early 17th Century, and has since grown into one of the country’s biggest industries. You will find all the major chains in the big cities of course, but to get the real flavour of local coffee culture head down to the local street vendors and warung kopi, or coffee houses for a strong black coffee with a ton of sugar! It may be a good idea to watch your chocolate intake if you drink a lot of the stuff! Locals love coffee so much the vendors even have little coffee sweets just in case you missed your morning brew!
A word of warning though, all through Indonesia but especially in Bali you may come across a coffee know as Kopi Luwak. This is what is more commonly known as Civet Poo coffee, and although it is considered a delicacy it is highly unethical, so there is more than one reason not to drink it other than the nasty thought of drinking poo.
Turkey is famous for it’s coffee culture and deservedly so. Intricately associated with the Turkish keyif (taking things easy) philosophy, having a pungent, thick and bitter coffee in a coffee house hidden in a bazaar or down a side street is just a way of life. Elaborate coffee customs date back to the Ottoman empire and the bean is considered so important here it made and broke marriages! It was considered grounds for divorce if men couldn’t provide coffee!
You can’t have a list of coffee destinations without mentioning Italy! Ever since the first coffee shop opened up on Piazza San Marco in 1683, Italians have been famously obsessed with coffee so much it borders on the clinically certifiable. The best way to wind an Italian up – apart from ordering pineapple on your pizza – is to order the wrong type of coffee at the wrong time! And it is so funny when they lose their proverbial over it! The best thing about Italian coffee culture is that every region has their own specialties, and not to mention rules and quirks about drinking it! And if you can manage to navigate the intricate rules around how to order in a packed coffee shop you may be lucky enough to stumble onto the ritual of caffe sospeso, where you pay for two coffees but leave one for a stranger to enjoy. Just make sure to pay it forward.
Singapore has been a liitle late to the coffee culture phenomenon, but now it is here Singapore is going all out. Hipster coffee shops are popping up everywhere and Latte Art has become one of the benchmarks of a good cafe.
Once the country’s number one export, Costa Rica’s coffee culture has had such an impact on the world that it can claim to be the inventor of the pour over method so favoured today. The Chorreador, which is the Costa Rican way of making coffee, consists of a bolsita, or little bag, full of coffee grounds and held up by a wooden stand. Hot water is then poured through it and allowed to slowly filter into the cup. You can just see little hipster barrista’s in the West wetting themselves over how ‘authentic’ it is.
America may not hold as rich a cultural or historical connection to coffee as other countries, but no country has done more to popularise and commercialise it than America! The ubiquitous chains of Starbucks and other coffee brands have spread over the world, and are an absolute mainstay everywhere in the USA, but it is the more recent resurgence of more boutique coffee shops that take the bean very seriously indeed that make the USA a great coffee lovers destination.
No matter which country you choose, if you love coffee then you are spoilt for choice with coffee rich destinations. As to which one will give you the best cup of coffee, that will all be down to you to visit and find out!
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