Sure, as a globetrotter, you’ve been around the world, but have you bean around the world?
From coffee farms to cool café scenes, almost every continent is buzzing with countries for which coffee is a key part of its national economy, culture, and identity. These five travel destinations in particular are a must for caffeine lovers to go to have an international coffee break.
So, drink in the coffee culture that these places are brewing and hit the ground running to these coffee-loving spots that I guarantee you’ll find yourself liking a latte!
This East African nation is known as the birthplace of coffee. According to legend, the origin story of the discovery of the first coffee beans in Ethiopia involves a goatherd named Kaldi, who found his animals exerting excessive energy after eating red berries off of a mysterious plant which would later become known as the coffee plant.
The Ethiopian expression “buna dabo naw,” which translates to “coffee is our bread”, indicates the significant role of coffee as a source of both nourishment and national identity in Ethiopia. According to the International Coffee Organization, domestic coffee consumption accounts for over half of the country’s production. Enjoyed from dusk until dawn, coffee drinking is an essential part of Ethiopia’s culture, encompassing a sense of gathering and belonging.
Coffee ceremonies (called Jebena Buna) are a ritualized form of roasting, preparing, serving, and drinking coffee. Experienced in family homes within the villages, the Ethiopian tradition of Jebena Buna will be a treat for invited guests to partake in.
As for which cafes to visit to sample Ethiopian coffee, head to the capital of Addis Ababa. Tomoca, the oldest coffee roaster in town, is a great spot to buy whole coffee beans and to try the most popular style of coffee, macchiato, and a spris, which is half coffee and half tea. With multiple locations across Addis Ababa, Kaldi’s is a coffee chain that is just as popular at Starbucks.
The Kona District in Hawaii
Though coffee orchards are found throughout the Hawaiian islands, it is the coffee grown in the district of Kailua-Kona that is best known as the epitome of the region’s coffee. Thriving on the mountain slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa on the Big Island’s west coast, Kona coffee, highly prized for its full-bodied flavour and aroma, is one of the most expensive coffees in the world.
There are numerous coffee plantations in the Kailua-Kona coffee belt that offer public tours, where visitors can learn about the coffee harvesting process from bean to cup. These plantations include Kona Coffee Living History Farm, Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, Hilo Coffee Mill, Hula Daddy Coffee, and Greenwell Farms.
For an idyllic cafe experience on the Big Island, visit Daylight Mind, where the sunny, colonial architecture with the wrap-around patio offers remarkable ocean views. Another option is The Coffee Shack, located in the heart of the Kona on the cliffside directly above the coffee farm where their beans come from. Overlooking Kealakekua Bay, the panoramic views provide a paradisiacal setting for enjoying your fine cup of Kona coffee.
Coffee enthusiasts will not want to miss out on Kona’s Coffee Cultural Festival, recognized as one of the oldest food festivals in Hawaii. Taking place every November, the festival features 50+ events over a 10-day period, during which locals and tourists gather to celebrate their love of coffee.
Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the coffee cultural landscape of Colombia is the world’s most recognized producer of coffee. The nation in South America ranks second worldwide in yearly production, with coffee growing as their largest source of rural employment. In fact, there are over 560,000 coffee farms (or fincas) throughout Colombia.
The Coffee Triangle, referred to locally as ‘Zona Cafetera’, is a region on the western side of the Andes Mountains that is made up of three districts—Caldas, Quindio, and Risaralda. The climate of the steep, shade-covered rainforests is most ideal for the coffee plants that grow the mellow, medium-bodied, arabica-style beans. The standard Colombian coffee profile brings together a mellow acidity with a strong caramel sweetness. The highest grade, Colombian Supremo, contains a delicate, aromatic sweetness, whereas Excelso Grade is softer and more acidic.
Colombia’s cities offer an incredible coffee culture. Bogota’s is rich with sleek coffee shops, from the sophisticated local favourite Azahar to the Juan Valdez coffee chain, based on the fictional character that marketed Colombian coffee to the rest of the world. Popular coffee blends include tinto, a sweetened version of strong black coffee, perico, which is half tinto and half milk, and cafe con leche, similar to a latte warm milk and a shot of espresso.
For a fun, caffeinated adventure, journey over to the National Coffee Park, a theme park in Quindio with attractions such as a coffee garden and coffee museum.
In the 17th century, coffee beans were introduced to Indonesia by Dutch colonists. When coffee gained popularity in the 1800s, the archipelago was leading the world’s coffee production, with plantations on the islands of Sulawesi, Bali, Sumatra, and Java. At the time, the main source of the world’s coffee was the island named Java, so it was only natural that a cup of piping hot coffee would come to be known as ‘java’. Today, some of the best known coffee plantation in Java include the MesaStila Resort, that conducts plantation tours on-site, and the Kaliklatak Plantation by Mount Bromo.
In recent years, coffee consumption in Indonesia has caught up with its coffee production. One of the must-stops in the capital city of Jakarta is Kopi Mank. This coffee shop gained a cult following by sourcing its beans from local farms. The Anomali coffee chain, found all across the archipelago, is a great place to taste a range of Indonesian coffees in one, as they gather beans from all across the region.
For the brave of heart (and stomach), try a Sumatran speciality and the world’s most expensive coffee—kopi luwak. Produced in the most ususual way, the process of making kopi luwak involves palm civet cats digesting and then excrementing coffee cherries.
When in Italy, do as the Italians do – drink an abundance of coffee.
While coffee isn’t actually grown in Italy, the nation is regarded highly as the cosmopolitan coffee capital of the world, in which cafés and coffee bars are central to its culture and baristas are masters of Italy’s coffee blends, including cappuccinos, macchiatos, and espressos. In the late 16th century, coffee was introduced to Italy in Venice, and today, Italians drink an average of 7 to 8 cups of coffee per day.
When taking a café tour of Italy, you must include the cities of Milan, Venice, and Rome in your itinerary. To sample authentic Milanese coffee and pastries in Milan, the birthplace of the espresso, head to the elegant art nouveau-style coffeehouse of Pasticceria Bastianello, and the luxuriously Instagram-worthy Pasticceria Marchesi. Venice is home to the world’s second oldest café, Caffè Florian, which was established in 1720 in the heart of Piazza San Marco. In Rome, the historic Antico Caffè Greco opened in 1760 and has the distinction of being the oldest coffee bar in Rome, where Wagner, Byron, and Casanova were reportedly regulars.
Wherever your coffee adventures take you, do a little bit of research beforehand, and you’re bound to find the perfect cup of joe.