Do you love coffee? Do you love it enough to take a coffee-themed vacation? You’ve heard of bar crawls. Have you ever been on an espresso bar crawl? Folgers used to say that the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup. A real coffee lover would strongly disagree with the Folgers part of the equation – and already know how to make french press coffee, pour-over coffee, iced coffee, and even Chemex coffee – but strongly agree with the rest. Do you know any songs about coffee? Do you have at least one coffee cup or mug that has a computer chip in it and is controlled by wifi?
If you want to be a real coffee enthusiast, start your coffee tourism close to home. Some of the best coffee in the world comes from small, independent, local roasters. If you are counting on the best cup of coffee of your life coming from a villa halfway around the world, you might be missing out on the real treasure that is just around the corner.
This is something that happens with regard to many aspects of our lives. If you grow up in a small town without having had the chance to see other places, you might come to resent the place where you live. It is often the case that those towns are only appreciated once we are no longer there. To avoid this, be sure that the first stop of your coffee tour is your local, independent roaster. From there, try the following:
The Best Travel Destinations
It is not a coincidence that most of the best travel destinations in the world are also the best coffee destinations in the world. It only takes one unforgettable experience to turn a mediocre destination into an unforgettable destination. For many, that memory is associated with a café. It might have been the first place you visited when you left the airport. Or it could have been the last place you visited before heading back home. Both tend to be strong memories. In the first case, you are thinking about all the adventures you are about to have. And in the second case, you are looking back on the best moments of your trip. These moments are often marked by a special cup of coffee.
It is not just a matter of association. New York City is an amazing destination for coffee tourism. The area is home to many Italian immigrants who brought their passion for the bean with them. Major cities have immigrants from all over the world. So whatever your favorite coffee happens to be, the major cities will have them all well represented.
If coffee is a religion, Trieste is the Mecca of mocha and the Jerusalem of java. Its cafés are temples and worshippers are everywhere. Be sure to plan your pilgrimage to one of the lesser-known coffee capitals of the world.
Many places in Italy are worthy of devoting your entire vacation. When making that list, most people don’t think of Trieste. But that is because they are not aware of how important the city is to Italian coffee. There is even a special jargon you have to learn to order coffee successfully. Don’t ask for an espresso. You won’t get it. What you want is a Nero. A cafe latte is actually a cappuccino. You might need a translator, but not for the standard Italian — for the coffee menu.
It might be hard to believe, but the tiny, North European country of Finland drinks more coffee than any other country in the world. With that kind of track record, Helsinki has got to be one of your coffee vacation destinations. The Finns drink coffee all day, every day and coffee breaks are mandatory by most labor unions. When you go, ask for a “khavi” (what the Finns call coffee), and don’t be surprised if it looks light. Native coffee-lovers in Finland prefer light roasts over dark. One of the best coffee shops in Helsinki is El Fant, right next door to the Helsinki Museum. They have specialty blends you can enjoy in a contemporary environment. And if a Finn asks you to enjoy a “sauna kahvi” with them, they’re inviting you to have a cup of coffee in a sauna (yes, it’s a real thing). Oh, and never ask a Finn for decaf, it’s not a thing and is pretty much non-existent.
There are over 850 coffee shops in San Diego. And that is still not enough to keep them from being in extremely high demand. You will find your favorite cup of coffee in San Diego. The problem is trying to narrow it down to just one coffee shop. One of the interesting things about San Diego coffee shops is that even the big chains are special there. They have to be. There is nothing typical about your typical airport or hotel coffee shop. They are competing with artisanal shops with some of the finest at their craft. It is not just the end product that will please, but the many local roasters who have turned the art into a science, and the science into an art.
When you think of coffee in the states, you might first think of NYC or Seattle, but Miami is the queen of Cuban coffee. Known as cafecito, this caffeinated wonder might be tiny, but it packs a mighty punch. Cubans brought over their version of coffee to Miami, Florida shortly after the Cuban Revolution started in 1959. Since then, café cubano has been a beloved staple. Miamians even have their own official coffee break time, which is 3:05 on the dot, every day. When you go visit, check out Little Havana’s famous Versailles, which has been serving Miami for almost 50 years. If the strong, sweet cafecito isn’t your thing, order a cortadito at Versailles instead, which is cut with steamed milk and a bit less intense than a traditional cafecito.
You don’t have to be a coffee fanatic to enjoy a great cup of coffee. But when you are ready to take it to the next level. Visit Trieste, San Diego, and other great cities of the world. The trip will be amazing, and the coffee, unforgettable.