Best Cities for Coffee Lovers

Depresso: The feeling you get when you run out of coffee.

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I’m going to start by saying I hate the taste of coffee. I love the smell, but I just can’t convince my tastebuds to love it. In honor of National Coffee Day last week, I was inspired to write this post to help those who do love coffee find the best places in the world for it.

Some places are no-brainers, others may surprise you. While I’m not the expert on coffee by any means, I have done my research. Luckily, you can experiment for yourselves by traveling to these places to taste them for yourselves!

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

International coffee connoisseurs travel the world each year on a pursuit to find the perfect cup of this brew and they always find their way back to Ethiopia. I’m not at all surprised since this African country is the birthplace of coffee and offers over 1,000 known varieties of coffee. Since they’ve been making coffee since the 9th century, there’s no doubt in my mind that Addis Ababa is the number one place you need to visit if coffee is your life blood.

Portland, Oregon, USA

Yes, Seattle is typically the place in the United States that make most lists, but I, respectfully, dissent. Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks, but Portland wins because of its diversity and creativity. Portland prides itself on its hipster culture, but it also prides itself in sustainably-sourced coffee beans.

You won’t find many national chains there as the city is filled near to bursting with small, local coffee shops, each with their own distinct personality. You can try one, two, or a handful on or own or on one of their coffee tours. It’s the perfect place to be jet lagged since you’ll get woken up by a delicious brew instantly.

Rome, Italy

Ever notice how most coffee lingo is Italian? While Ethiopia is the birthplace, Rome is probably the most well-known capital of coffee. You can barely walk 10 feet without seeing someone sip a cup or down a shot of espresso.

Coffee culture in Rome is almost ritualistic. You, ALWAYS and I mean always, stay at the cafe and never order it to go. While other countries do provide biscuits and such with coffee, Romans are more purist and prefer just the coffee. In the morning, after lunch, and after dinner are the most acceptable times for their favorite drink.

Coffee Triangle of Colombia

Caldas, Risaraldas, Quindio are the best known ‘departments’ in Colombia for coffee. They produce the majority of Colombian coffee and are often competing for the title of best coffee on the planet. Why? The country’s altitude produces rich, flavorful, full-bodied, and balanced tastes in their beans, making it hard to compete with elsewhere.

In addition to the altitude, Colombian coffee grows best in volcanic soil, which Columbia has an abundance of. While you can get a fantastic cup of coffee anywhere in the world, Colombia can’t be beat on most taste tests and their preferred arabica beans pack the most caffeine into your cup. If you struggle to stay away, Colombia should be your first choice when choosing your next cup of joe.

Istanbul, Turkey

Considering its geography, Istanbul sits between a crossroad of vibrant cultures and has been brewing coffee for centuries. To give you a sense of just what you’re getting in each cup of coffee, consider this Turkish proverb: “Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.”

Coffee is also a strong part of their culture and has become intertwined in wedding ceremonies, determining a man’s suitability and manliness, and coffee cups were used for fortune telling once the cup was emptied by the drinker. Expect a cup of coffee as bold as the culture itself!

Taipei, Taiwan

Coffee probably is far from the first drink you associate with Taiwan, but in Taipei it’s become ingrained in everyday life. Japan introduced coffee to the area 50-60 years ago and dozens of local coffee shops have sprung into existence ever since.

While they don’t have centuries of experience like some of the other cities on this list, Taipei baristas are considered some of the most talented in the world. You won’t be limited to a single type of brew either. Creativity, uniqueness, and presentation will differ with every single shop or cafe you visit, making it an eclectic coffee lover’s dream city. Want to try sweet potato coffee? You can. Want to have latte foam art? You will never be disappointed.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

How could I not include the biggest grower and exporter of coffee in the world!? When I think of Brazil, I just think about vibrancy and color. My research tells me these vibes are pretty spot on when it comes to coffee shops. Outdoor terraces, streetwise cafes, and small, artisanal shops can be found all over the city serving up delicious in a cup (for those who like coffee…).

Fancy, specialty drinks are now becoming extremely popular, but they aren’t the authentic coffee Brazil is known for. Try ordering a cafezinho, a traditional small cup of piping hot filtered coffee with ample amounts of sugar. Don’t forget the chocolate brigadeiro on the side. You decide whether you want a traditional or trendy cup of coffee, I suggest both.

Melbourne, Australia

I honestly had no idea Australia was a hot bed of coffee. Nor did I know that New Zealand and Australia are locked in a bitter battle over who invented the flat white. While Australia has countless reasons to visit, Melbourne is dotted with tons of independent coffee shops.

If you want nothing but a traditional cup of coffee, you can get it, but that’s not why people travel to Melbourne for coffee. Think trendy coffee and it most likely originated in Melbourne. Pour overs and batch brews are proud creations of this Australian city. Take yourself on a self-guided tour to as many different coffee shops as you can to try out the different kinds and methods.

Havana, Cuba

Havana is more well-known for its time capsule-like attractions allowing you to step back in time aesthetically. However, it is a wonderful destination for coffee lovers as well. Just like Colombia, Cuba grows their arabica in higher altitudes in the Sierra Maestre Mountains.

Havana is not flashy with its coffee like some other cities prefer. It’s all about how you prefer your coffee and where you choose to go based on that. Coffee in Havana is brewed traditionally and don’t be surprised if they roast your coffee beans on the spot for a deliciously fresh cup.

Oslo Norway

It was hard to choose just one Scandinavian city as they all have a strong coffee culture, but Oslo stood out to me. Norway ranks number two (after Finland) in the world for coffee consumption. They prefer a lighter brew that is aromatic versus the stronger brews of other cities and countries, so I can only imagine how incredible their coffee shops smell.

What I love most is the sense of community coffee seems to bring inhabitants and visitors of Oslo’s coffee shops. Instead of professionals tapping away on computers, you’ll see lots of happy people relaxing, socializing, and just enjoying their coffee breaks. Americans could learn a LOT from this and I think I would force myself to enjoy coffee if there were more places like this in the US.

Hanoi, Vietnam

After Brazil, Vietnam is the world’s second-biggest producer of coffee. As a result, they have gradually built a strong coffee scene and that is no more apparent than in Hanoi. There are modern cafes serving up fancy brews as well as more traditional street vendors all selling great cups of coffee.

You’ll see all of the typical coffee orders like lattes and americanos, but you’ll also see Hanoi shine with its creativity. Choose to be adventurous by flavoring your coffee with egg yolks, avocado, yogurt, and bananas to name a few. Don’t forget to visit coffee street (Trieu Viet Vuong) to sample as many as your body will allow!

Reykjavik, Iceland

For such a small city, there are a LOT of coffee shops. Want a super well known brand name? You’re out of luck, it’s a locals game here and I love that. If supporting family-run businesses is your jam, Reykjavik has to be on your bucket list. Each business competes to have the best coffee so it’s very hard to find sub-par coffee in the city at all.

Iceland isn’t very well known around the globe for their coffee, but they have strong history with the brew. Icelanders even have distinct words for coffees consumed at different times of the day. If your language hasn’t incorporated multiple terms over the average number for coffee then chances are your country hasn’t been brewing as long as Iceland has. Don’t miss the coffees made with fresh Icelandic milk or Skyr yogurt.

Published by Emma Browning

Hey everyone, my name is Emma Browning. Thanks for stopping by. I like to think of myself as a modern day renaissance woman since I basically do a little bit of everything. Here's a few of my jobs/hobbies in case you're curious: Group Fitness Instructor (Zumba, BodyStep and BodyPump), small business owner (string art& travel photography), archaeologist/anthropologist, actress, SCUBA dive master, reading addict, dog mom, cellist, and of course travel enthusiast. I've traveled to over 21 countries and speak French fluently and am learning Spanish. Traveling is one of my all time favorite things to do whether it be a day trip with my dog or a massive international adventure. I created this blog to help others see the world vicariously through my wanderings and also to give useful tips and essential information that will hopefully inspire more people to travel. Hopefully you have as much fun reading these posts and get a lot of useful information from them!

2 thoughts on “Best Cities for Coffee Lovers

  1. I couldn’t agree more – coffee is heavenly to smell and horrid to taste… until you put cream in it. Real cream, that is. None of this half-and-half malarkey some people try to pass off as cream. (Incidentally, since it’s half milk and half cream, why don’t people call it milk?) It’s amazing how a little cream utterly transforms the taste of coffee, bringing out the best flavors and totally diminishing the bitterness. No need for sugar, either.

    I’ve had coffee at a hipster coffeeshop in Portland and at one of those quickie stand-up espresso joints in Rome that the locals patronize. Both great experiences!

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