For many, making a mug of steaming hot coffee is an essential part of any morning routine worth its salt (or sugar, in this case). Some like theirs served with a hefty dollop of cream or a spoonful of the aforementioned sugar, while purists will refuse anything other than a straight up shot of espresso. There are numerous myths and legends surrounding the strong brew’s origins, although it’s most likely to have originated in Ethiopia, where wild coffee plants grew and beans were consumed for their medicinal properties. Today, the drink is beloved for its energy-giving effect and you can find a Starbucks or Pret selling various coffee-based drinks on every corner in London. So, whether you’re an Arabica fan or more Robusta inclined, we recommend grabbing a cup of your preferred beverage while you peruse the list of our favourite coffee experiences around the world.
Widely regarded as the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia is a certified mecca for caffeine fiends. Stories vary as to where coffee originated; some tell of how a goat herder discovered coffee’s kick when his goats started acting more spirited after munching coffee fruit, while others suggest that people started chewing coffee plants to give them a little pick-me-up during the day. Unsurprisingly, coffee remains a key part of Ethiopian culture and is the country’s national beverage, so you’re bound to find some of the best coffee experiences around the world here. The most popular coffee region is Yirgacheffe, situated near the Great Rift Valley, while there are numerous coffee roasters throughout the capital, Addis Ababa.
Italy is famed for its culinary creations and the country’s coffee contributions are no exception. Italians take their caffeine fix very seriously, with some of the finest beverages originating here – the names espresso, cappuccino, macchiato and caffè d’orzo might sound familiar. If we could choose only one coffee obsessed city in Italy to visit it would have to be Milan, as the Lombardy capital supposedly served as the inspiration for Starbucks. Begin your day by downing an espresso at the bar as the locals do, or take a pew for a more leisurely brew accompanied by flaky pastries. Some of the city’s coffee-led institutions include Pavé Milano, Pasticceria Cucchi and Orsonero Coffee.
South America has its fair share of coffee-producing greats, with Brazil hogging the top spot as the top producer of coffee worldwide (accounting for nearly 40% of the world’s total supply). Colombia comes in not far behind, supplying more than 858,000 metric tons of coffee per year. Blessed with ideal terrain and a comfortable climate, the South American nation is one of the only places on the planet where Arabica beans can be grown, a variety known for its fruity and aromatic flavour. Some of our favourite coffee experiences around the world take place in Salento, west of Bogotá, where a number of traditional coffee farms run authentic tours and tastings.
Turkey’s coffee culture is as much about the way it’s brewed and served, as it is about the drink itself. The full-bodied beverage tastes exceptionally strong and is served in small porcelain cups known as fincan, designed to be sipped while catching up with friends. Normally made with Arabica beans that have been ground into a fine powder with cold water, Turkish coffee is brewed in a little bronze pot known as a cezve. The water and coffee are brought to a boil, removed, and then brought to a boil again. This process is repeated until the coffee thickens, before sugar is added to take some of the edge off. It’s wise to pace yourself when sampling this one, as despite the diminutive size of the cups, the drink certainly packs a punch.
Much like the bean producing heavyweights of South America, Central America also boasts a number of superstar coffee producers. Costa Rica, in particular, is renowned for its expansive coffee plantations and high quality beans, along with its sustainable production practices. This ecological Eden is also the only place in the world where it is illegal to sell anything but 100% Arabica coffee beans – often regarded as the best beans in the business. Join coffee plantation tours around Arenal Volcano to learn about the harvesting, roasting and grinding processes, or enjoy a mug of the magical brew at one of the many cafes in San José.
When it comes to coffee experiences around the world, Sweden boasts one of the cosiest coffee drinking traditions. Their café culture largely revolves around the concept of fika, which roughly translates to ‘a coffee and cake break’. It means so much more than this, however, and also embodies a wider attitude towards taking time out during the day to enjoy a drink and sweet treat with a loved one. This pause in the day is seen as crucial for strengthening relationships and slowing down. The word fika derives from the 19th-century slang word for coffee, kaffi, so it seems apt that this sociable break is normally accompanied by a steaming hot cup of coffee and a Swedish cinnamon bun. In today’s fast-paced world, it seems we could all do with a little more fika in our lives.
Written by Luisa Watts