In the name of convenience, many travelers will settle for just any chain café—but those looking to turn their coffee run into a cultural experience will find pleasure in mapping out their morning cappuccinos and afternoon espressos. Check out these six international cafés to make your next coffee-fueled trip a memorable one.
Cape Town, South Africa
This steampunk-themed Cape Town hot spot (think vintage Zeppelin, old metal machinery, exposed pipes, and top hat-adorned baristas) was named the best coffee shop in the world by The Telegraph in 2016. But it’s not resting on its laurels. Capetonians and tourists alike flock to Truth for its lineup of coffee connoisseur-approved, single-origin coffees, all hand-roasted in a vintage drum. For best results, take the Truth menu’s advice on blend and beverage, such as ordering the high-acidity Resurrection blend as a flat white rather than a long black.
Inexpensive Americanos and meia-de-leite (half coffee, half milk) abound in Porto. But you won’t find them here. A slightly higher price grants visitors not only a fantastic cup of joe, but an unparalleled coffee-drinking experience, thanks to the cafe’s rich history and awe-inspiring Art Nouveau design. The Majestic dates back to 1921, when it was known as Elite—and the best place for the city’s intellectuals and artists to see and be seen. The opulent interior will take you right back to that era, with its wall-to-wall Flemish mirrors, ornate plasterwork, and marble flooring.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Coffee culture is serious business in Vietnam’s biggest city. Travelers needing a pick-me-up after gorging on bun rieu and banh mi will be relieved to find cafés on nearly every street corner. The hard part is deciding where to go. If you find yourself in District 1, The Workshop is your best bet. The aesthetic is vintage-industrial, the patrons are digital nomads, and the coffee is third-wave. Pick from a selection of in-house roasted beans, then choose your brewing method: syphon, Chemex, V60 and AeroPress are just some of the styles on offer.
San Alberto is one of Colombia’s most decorated coffee producers. In a country that’s synonymous with java, that’s a big deal. Coffee lovers could sample the goods at one of the San Alberto cafés in Bogotá or Cartagena, but for a true coffee adventure, head to the Buenavista region, where the company’s coffee is grown and harvested. Take a tour of the grounds to learn about the history and process, then retire to the Café San Alberto terrace for an espresso coupled with stunning views of the lush coffee fields and Colombian Andes mountains in the distance.
Both coffee aficionados and lovers of Scandinavian and Japanese design principles will find themselves right at home at Edition—one of Sydney’s most coveted coffee shops. From its Zen-like, all-black home, located in the Haymarket neighbourhood, Edition uses carefully selected beans from various international locales (they roast the beans themselves off-site) and a variety of brewing styles to craft the perfect cup. Forget adding a croissant, order a katsu burger with yuzu coleslaw and enjoy it from the horigotatsus-style sunken seating.
Coffee roasters abound in Vancouver’s competitive coffee scene. As a non-roaster, Nemesis stands out. Rather than create their own roasts, the beloved Hastings Street shop curates the best of the best from both at home and around the world. The ever-changing coffee menu here is best approached by seeking assistance from one of their highly educated baristas, who can help you select the right espresso for your palate and the most fitting preparation to match. All light and bright, with plenty of wood and greenery, the café feels distinctively Vancouver — you’ll want to order your coffee “for here”.
Tokyo has its fair share of worthy café contenders (it’s been hailed the coffee capital of Asia), but none are arguably more memorable than Lion Café—the hole-in-the-wall located in Shibuya stands as a stark contrast to Tokyo’s glossy, minimalist coffee shops. It was destroyed during World War II and rebuilt in 1950 to almost the exact same specifications: stepping inside takes you on a journey back in time. It’s a meikyoku kissaten (a Japanese term for a classical music café) and the rules are no speaking and no phones allowed. Sip an earthy matcha tea or inky black coffee and let the music wash away all traces of the modern world. But don’t you dare ask if there’s WiFi.
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