This is a guest post by Jay Deratany. If you would like to be a guest writer, please see our guidelines.
You can get a cup of coffee almost anywhere, anytime. But an excellent cup of coffee served with panache in a city that’s as obsessed with java as you are? That’s a little harder to find.
Each of the great coffee cities of the world have a slightly different approach to the stuff, but what they all have in common is a profound appreciation for the art and culture of coffee.
So grab a cup and get ready to add a few more cities to your travel bucket list as we take an armchair trip to 5 coffee lover’s dream towns.
1. Rome, Italy
Espresso is like water to Romans, who grow up drinking the rich, creamy, concentrated goodness from a pretty young age and don’t stop until the grave. But visitors should know that there are very strict cultural norms that are followed in the coffee bar. First off, coffee drinking is rarely the drawn-out social affair there that it is here.
As the most common order is merely one shot of espresso, the deed is done quickly and you’re out the door. Also be aware that you will get very funny looks if you order a cappuccino or caffe latte after the breakfast hour – if you need to cut the espresso with a bit of milk foam, go for a caffe macchiato and skip the dirty look from the barista.
2. Seattle, Washington
No one can argue with the fact that the home of grunge rock, Starbucks and 226 days of rain per year loves its coffee. While we all know it’s the birthplace of the corporate java giant, that’s far from the only thing that makes Seattle a coffee capital.
Given that their residents consume more coffee than any other American city, it makes sense that the city’s social culture revolves around the coffee shop. And whatever you think of Starbucks, it’s pretty clear that they kicked off the whole coffee shop culture revolution in America. But if you visit, be sure to try other local favorites like Espresso Vivace and Victrola Coffee.
3. Istanbul, Turkey
Our English word “Coffee” actually comes from the Arabic word “kahveh” and the root of the coffee house culture lies in this unique city that straddles the eastern and western world. Though nowadays it’s not hard to find coffee chains like Starbucks & Nero in Istanbul, there’s been a revival and resurgence of traditional Turkish coffee, which recently earned a place on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
If you’ve never had Turkish coffee, prepare yourself for something a little different than you’re used to. It’s prepared by heating very finely ground coffee and sugar and water in a special copper pot, sometimes bringing it on and taking it off the heat several times in order to achieve a thick, foamy head, which is the true mark of a well-prepared Turkish coffee. If done right, there are not noticeable grounds in the liquid nor the foam. It’s an intense flavor, but highly complemented by some delicious Turkish delight.
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
In the Big Easy, it’s not uncommon for kids to be served milk with a bit of coffee at breakfast with their parents. That’s how ingrained coffee is in this Southern city of indulgence. For the uninitiated, chicory is the calling card of New Orleans Joe, which became a tradition when locals started using ground chicory root to make their precious coffee go further in the Civil War days.
Newbies must sample beignets with café au lait at Café du Monde. This milky coffee concoction along with the puffed doughnut squares are a form of heaven for some residents and frequent tourists. Given the fact that the city is also known for its raucous celebrations, it’s no wonder that they need a steady lifeline to coffee to survive. Be sure to hit some local spots like CC’s, Rue De La Course and PJ’s when you’re in need.
5. Melbourne, Australia
Although we don’t normally associate Australian cities with coffee the way we do with places like Rome or Seattle, this Down Under town is positively coo coo for coffee. In fact, the city hosts an annual coffee expo and even offers café culture tours. During WWII, Melbourne saw an influx of immigrants from coffee-loving locales in Southern Europe, which was the start of the java culture here.
The signature drink of these Aussie coffee lovers is the Piccolo, a less milky take on a latte, but each place has its own style and preferred preparations. The city itself is split into neighborhoods called villages, and they differ in vibe but they all serve up the famed brew expertly using a wide variety of techniques. Melbourne visitors should try local java institutions like Market Lane Coffee and St. Ali, but explore the hidden gems all around town as well.
This list is not even close to being exhaustive as the world holds many, many more cities that are in love with coffee. These are just a few of the best that would certainly be worth a visit, if not for the love of java then for the abounding culture and history that resides in each along with their caffeine-fueled residents.
Jay Deratany is many things – the founding partner of a law firm, an indie film producer, and the owner of The Kirby, a boutique hotel in the Saugatuck-Douglas area of southwest Michigan. He’s also a frequent contributor to several popular lifestyle, culture and travel publications. To learn more, head to Http://www.TheKirbyhotel.com.
QOTD- Is there a city you love to visit, or want to visit, for a coffee crawl? Share in the comments below.