Best places in the world for coffee: Experts name the best cafes

Here in Australia we're used to good coffee, so when caffeine-lovers venture overseas it's understandable they can get a little tetchy hunting down a good cafe after the long haul flight. But there are ways of finding the perfect brew.

"I do my research, map everything on my smart phone, and make the coffee stop the high point of my morning, going out of my way to find a great coffee, rather than finding a great coffee near where I am going," says food writer and author Jill Dupleix.

Toby Smith from Toby's Estate travels overseas frequently and believes the standard of coffee is improving remarkably.

"America has actually had great coffee for quite a few years but it takes a while for everyone here to get that perception," he says.

"London is the same sort of thing, they've got lots of High Street chains, if you went there and didn't know you could get the wrong impression – it's just about knowing where to go." 

Toby is just one of the Australians making a big impact overseas in changing coffee culture, his Toby's Estate Espresso Schools in New York and Singapore train baristas on the foundations of good coffee from ethically sourcing beans to mastering the pour.

But a good cafe experience is not just about great coffee and food. Lingering in a cafe also allows insight into a country's culture, and the opportunity to commune with locals.

"Local cafes get the good, bad and ugly of the local gene pool all crammed in to one place; [it's] an instant snapshot of the area you're in," says Jill who is a firm believer in asking ask restaurant waitstaff, chefs and bar staff -  people who know good coffee – where to go.

"I just love the whole cafe experience – meeting people over coffee, talking about coffee, telling our stories over coffee. There is something about a good cafe that makes you part of the neighbourhood for the price of a coffee, wherever that neighbourhood may be."

With the help of our expert caffeine-addled panel, we've compiled the ultimate list of cafes to visit when travelling overseas so you may never need to complain again about not be able to find a decent coffee.

THE CAFES 

EUROPE

Sant'Eustachio, Rome, Italy

THEME Classic

WHY WE LOVE IT: "It's the perfect old-school Italian cafe, just around the corner from the Pantheon," says Jill.

"Dating back to 1938, it is famous for its wood-roasted coffee and no-peeking security screen, so nobody can discover the true secret of their trademark rich, thick crema."

WHAT TO ORDER: The "Gran Caffe" and the Nutella-filled aragosta pastry.

INSIDER TIP The Italian way to drink espresso is "al banco", standing at the counter.

ESSENTIALS: Piazza di Sant'Eustachio, 18 +39 06 6880 2048 www.santeustachioilcaffe.it  Coffee from 1.20 EU

Johan & Nystrom, Stockholm, Sweden 

THEME Hip

WHY WE LOVE IT "I've just come back from Sweden and this cafe is my home away from home," says Toby.

"They have really good baristas and they're really nice people always asking how your day has been."

WHAT TO ORDER Try their Signature Origin Series, flavours range from red berries to smooth milk chocolate.

INSIDER TIP They're tea merchants as well, offering a full range of assortments.

ESSENTIALS Swedenborgsgatan 7, Stockholm johanochnystrom.se Coffee from 28 Swedish Kr.

KronoTrop, Istanbul, Turkey

THEME Al fresco

WHY WE LOVE IT:  "KronoTrop is an innovative coffee shop with multiple brew options from cold drip to cortado – and a genuine ambition to make real Turkish coffee relevant today," says Jill.

Toby Smith is also a fan.

"I have just visited to do a talk and Turkey is turning the corner in terms of coffee," says Toby. 

"This cafe is my favourite there."

WHAT TO ORDER: Turkish coffee, brewed in the traditional copper pot, and dereotlu kurabiye (cheese and dill pasties).

INSIDER TIP: The Sultanahmet branch is very close to the famous sixth century Basilica Cistern, and has a dreamy shaded courtyard.

ESSENTIALS: Hadim Hasan Pasa Medresesi 15, Sultanahmet, Istanbul +90 9241275 www.kronotrop.com.tr  Coffee from 6 Turkish lira.

Fondation Café, Paris, France

THEME Hip

WHY WE LOVE IT "After a wild goose chase with Google Maps and stopping twice to bribe whinging children with chocolate eclairs we finally found it – a perfect Sydney-style cafe fix  (the owner/barista is Australian)," says James from Cornersmith. 

"Alex almost cried into her flat white!"

WHAT TO ORDER Try their iced lattes in summer.

INSIDER TIP Word is that this is the only cafe in Paris with a steel Kees van der Western Spirit coffee machine.

ESSENTIALS 16 Rue Dupetit-Thouars, 75003 Paris, https://www.facebook.com/fondationcafe An espresso is 2.50 Euros

Lantana, London, UK

THEME Al fresco

WHY WE LOVE IT "It's enough to bring a homesick tear to the eye of an expat Australian in London; from the beautifully nutty, smoky coffee to the cool crowd chilling over sweetcorn fritters, and lamingtons," says Jill.

WHAT TO ORDER Caffe latte, made with beans from Coffee Alchemy in Sydney. 

INSIDER TIP Yep, there's Vegemite on the menu.

ESSENTIALS http://lantanacafe.co.uk 13 Charlotte Place, Fitzrovia, plus two other locations. Coffee from 2 pounds.  

Monmouth Coffee, London, England

THEME Classic

WHY WE LOVE IT "My most vivid cafe memory is here," says Jason.

"They sat me down on a coffee sack, and over the next couple of hours made me samples of every one of the single estate coffees they had, it was the first time I had tasted two different coffees side by side, and it was a revelation."

WHAT TO ORDER Ask them which blend they would recommend.

INSIDER TIP Head to the Covent Garden location and sit in one of the tiny booths, you are likely to strike up a conversation with someone interesting each time.

ESSENTIALS 27 Monmouth Street Covent Garden, London WC2H 9EU monmouthcoffee.co.uk, Cappuccino AU$4.95

Harry's Bar, Venice, Italy 

THEME  Historic

WHY WE LOVE IT This is the birthplace of bellinis and carpaccio but many go just for the atmosphere.

"I love it because it's rich in heritage and tradition," says Rolando. 

WHAT TO ORDER Order a coffee and some biscotti – keep it simple, otherwise it can be expensive. 

INSIDER TIP Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote and Orson Welles all dined here.

ESSENTIALS  Calle Vallaresso, 132, Venice, Italy harrysbarvenezia.com, Coffee 5 euros.

Coffee Collective, Copenhagen, Denmark

THEME: Artisanal

WHY WE LOVE IT "Because it's all about the coffee," says Jill.

"The owners are dedicated to the search for the perfect coffee and equally determined to make sure the coffee farmer can enjoy the same living conditions as a grape-grower for fine wine."

WHAT TO ORDER Let them decide for you; have a chat about the sort of coffee you like, and they will prescribe, like a Dr Coffee. 

INSIDER TIP "My favourite Coffee Collective in the Torvehallrene – the food market – the openness and cohesion of this space in the market is truly special," says Jason.

ESSENTIALS Jaegersborggade 10, Copenhagen  www.coffeecollective.dk Coffee from 200 Dkr

Kaffeine, London, England

THEME Hip

WHY WE LOVE IT "Because this always rocking Australian/New Zealand co-production is full of life, colour, movement, energy," says Jill. 

WHAT TO ORDER A flat white, or cold-brew Kenyan coffee from Notes Specialty Coffee, with a Portuguese tart.

INSIDER TIP Kaffeine is the official coffee supplier to Lords Cricket Ground during the Ashes.

ESSENTIALS: 66 Great Titchfield Street London W1 +44 20 7580 6755 www.kaffeine.co.uk Coffee 2.90 pounds

Café Mulassano, Turin, Italy

THEME Historic

WHY WE LOVE IT "Because it is so painfully beautiful; a tiny, five-tabled treasure-box of carved wood and marble dating back over 150 years, with exquisite coffee," says Jillian.

WHAT TO ORDER Order an aperitivo and a coffee, with potato crisps. 

INSIDER TIP The ancient bronze water fountain on the bar dispenses filtered water. 

ESSENTIALS Piazza Castello, 15. Turin +39 011 547 990. www.caffemulassano.com  Coffee 5 Euros

Ottolenghi, Islington, London

THEME Modern

WHY WE LOVE IT "On a recent trip to London we ended up having a late breakfast at Ottelenghi in Islington," says Cornersmith's Alex. 

"We then decided to have a glass of wine and then moved straight into lunch. We left well-caffeinated and well-fed, it was awesome."

WHAT TO ORDER Everything is freshly-made and free from preservatives and colouring.

INSIDER TIP There are five branches of Ottolenghi in London.

ESSENTIALS 287 Upper St, London N1 2TZ, ottolenghi.co.uk Single espresso costs 1.95 pounds.

Prufrock, London, England

THEME Hip

WHY WE LOVE IT "Prufrock is very casual but they are very serious about their coffee," says Toby.

"They're big educators in coffee, ex-World Barista Champion Gwilyn Davies is helping to make London a better coffee place." 

WHAT TO ORDER The food here is also great, they work with some of London's best producers including Neal's Yard Dairy and Ben's Fish.

INSIDER TIP Their online blog offers tips and tricks on becoming a master of coffee.

ESSENTIALS 23-25 Leather Lane, London, www.prufrockcoffee.com Espresso costs 1.50 pounds

Stern Café, Paris France

THEME Designer

WHY WE LOVE IT: "It's an Italian in the heart of Paris, a collaboration between top Italian chef Massimiliano Alajmo of Le Calandre, and top roaster Gianna Frasi from Verona," says Jill.

"It also has enchanting, evocative interiors by Philippe Starck." 

WHAT TO ORDER: An espresso or Campari spritz at the coffee counter. 

INSIDER TIP: It's open all day, try the croissants for breakfast and cicchetti (Venetian antipasti) for lunch.

ESSENTIALS: 47 Passage des Panorames, Rue Vivienne, 275002, Paris. www.caffestern.fr  Coffee from 1.5 Euro

Rose Bakery, Paris, France

THEME Healthy and home-style

WHY WE LOVE IT "Rose Bakery cookbooks are a staple in our kitchen at home they have been part of the inspiration for Cornersmith," says Alex.

"It was really exciting to finally visit."

WHAT TO ORDER Try the carrot cake or lemon pound cake with your coffee.

INSIDER TIP Go for brunch or lunch when a full array of food is available.

ESSENTIALS 46 rue des Martyrs, 75009, no website, Latte 3.50 euros

Java, Oslo, Norway

THEME Hip

WHY WE LOVE IT "Java is a small coffee bar in a small retail shopping neighbourhood," says Jason.

"You can tell there has been a lot of care put in to each detail of this space, and their coffee is no exception either."

WHAT TO ORDER There's an aeropress and siphon brewers here as well as a full espresso bar.

INSIDER TIP Grab a coffee here and order a sweet treat at the nearby Pascal patisserie and sit in St. Hanshaugen park across the road. 

ESSENTIALS Ullevålsveien 47, 0171 Oslo, Norway www.javaoslo.no Cappuccino AU $6.31

Holybelly, Paris, France

THEME Hip

WHY WE LOVE IT "After spending a lot of time overseas learning about food and coffee service (NYC, Canada, Melbourne) the owners have brought the best of all these places to one cafe," says Jason.

WHAT TO ORDER Jason recommends trying everything 

INSIDER TIP The menu changes monthly depending on what is in season.

ESSENTIALS 19 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 Paris, France, holybel.ly, Espresso 2.50 Euros.

Tim Wendelboe, Oslo, Norway

THEME Hip

WHY WE LOVE IT "After winning the World Barista Competition, Tim went on to open a true micro-roastery in a small space shared with a reasonably large vintage Probat coffee roaster," says Jason.

"Watching the coffee being roasted is part of the charm."

WHAT TO ORDER Try the iced Kenya coffees with a splash of vinegar.

INSIDER TIP They host public cuppings every Saturday, book online.

ESSENTIALS Grüners gate 1, 0552 Oslo, Norway, timwendelboe.no, Cappuccino $7.47

UNITED STATES

Intelligensia, Silver Lake, Los Angeles 

THEME Al fresco

WHY WE LOVE IT "When you're in this industry, you're constantly hearing from your friends about ''bloody American coffee', says Toby.

"But Americans are starting to get into the combination of really good food with coffee as well and Intelligensia is one of the best," he says. 

WHAT TO ORDER Order your coffee and take a seat outside, all LA locations are al fresco.

INSIDER TIP There are locations also in Chicago and New York.

ESSENTIALS www.intelligentsiacoffee.com

JOE NYC, New York

THEME Classic

WHY WE LOVE IT "The first and best of the 10 Joe's in NYC, the West Village location is housed in a cutesy-pie cottage, with bicycles inevitably chained to the front picket fence," says Jill.

WHAT TO ORDER Coffee is serious, as are the small cakes and breads.

INSIDER TIP Schedule a private lesson at Joe's to learn or improve the coffee-making skill of your choice, there are class descriptions on their website.

ESSENTIALS 14 Waverly Place, West Village, NYC, 10014 212 924 6750 and various locations NYC. www.joenyc.com. Cortado, US$3.

Four Barrel Coffee, San Francisco

THEME: Hip

WHY WE LOVE IT "It's your perfect Mission District cafe, the music is vinyl, a poster advises against discussing Annoying Hipster Topics, and the roaster is a vintage four-barrel Probat," says Jill.

WHAT TO ORDER Signature ''Friendo Blendo'' espresso with an apricot and cardamom Dynamo doughnut on the side.

INSIDER TIP: There are two coffee bars, one fast and one slow, so choose accordingly.

ESSENTIALS  375 Valencia St., San Francisco +1 415 252 0800

www.fourbarrelcoffee.com Coffee from US$3.50

Dante, New York

THEME Classic 

WHY WE LOVE IT  "This has an old school Italian vibe and is one of the oldest operating cafes in the city," says Rolando. 

"And it's now being managed by an Australian."

WHAT TO ORDER Try the cappuccino Dante.

INSIDER TIP Vittoria's famous Al Pacino coffee ad was shot here.

ESSENTIALS  79-81 Macdougal Street, New York City www.dante-nyc.com, Coffee is US$3

Cafe Grumpy, New York

THEME Hip

WHY WE LOVE IT "Cafe Grumpy have been operating out of their Brooklyn roastery since 2005," says Jason.

"The owners have worked hard to create a real community around their café and it has some of the longest-term staff of any cafe that I know of, a testament to the supportive environment." 

WHAT TO ORDER Try their Colombian and Ethiopian 'Heartbreaker' espresso blend.

INSIDER TIP There are now seven outlets of Café Grumpy throughout New York.

ESSENTIALS 193 Meserole Avenue, Brooklyn cafegrumpy.com, Cappuccino $5.40

Heart Coffee Roasters, Portland

THEME Hip

WHY WE LOVE IT "Heart Coffee Roasters embodies what is great Portland," says Jason.

"They take their coffee extremely seriously, travelling to coffee producing countries to ensure quality several times a year."

WHAT TO ORDER Try their double espresso or a cup of drip coffee.

INSIDER TIP They have two cafes, one on the eastside of Portland, the other on the west.

ESSENTIALS 2211 E Burnside St, Portland Oregon,  www.heartroasters.com, Cappuccino $5.40

ASIA

The Lokal, Singapore

THEME: Neighbourhood

WHY WE LOVE IT: "It's just like being in Melbourne's Fitzroy or Sydney's Surry Hills, with share tables, a caring barista and smashed avocado and ricotto on toast from Tetsuya-trained chef and part-owner Darren Farr," says Jill.

WHAT TO ORDER A robust, fragrant flat white with a slice of whatever cake is cooling on the kitchen pass.

INSIDER TIP There's a special roast every Sunday (Not coffee, food – like roast pork belly and gravy.)

ESSENTIALS 136 Neil Road, Singapore, www.facebook.com/thelokalsingapore  Coffee from Sing$4.

The Cupping Room, Hong Kong, China

THEME Boutique

WHY WE LOVE IT "Because they take their beans, their machines and their coffee seriously, yet there's a recognisably relaxed cafe vibe," says Jill.

WHAT TO ORDER House blend macchiato and an omelette sandwich.

INSIDER TIP There's a second branch in Wanchai.

ESSENTIALS 299 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan, HK. https://www.facebook.com/CuppingRoomHK  Coffee from HK$40.

Fuglen, Tokyo, Japan

THEME Hip 

WHY WE LOVE IT  "Fuglen is a beautifully designed small slice of Scandinavian style based close to Yoyogi Park in the heart of Tokyo," says Jason.

WHAT TO ORDER Pair your coffee with homemade ice cream made with Norwegian brown cheese.

INSIDER TIP It's a great place to hang out during the day or the night, which is unique amongst cafes.

ESSENTIALS https://www.facebook.com/Fuglen.Tokyo 1-16-11 Tomigaya Shibuya, Tokyo Cappuccino - AU $6.81

Switch Coffee, Tokyo

THEME Hip

WHY WE LOVE IT "Switch Coffee is located in the Meguro neighbourhood of Tokyo," says Jason.

"Masa, the owner lived in Melbourne for quite a while, and became a good friend of Market Lane, we love their onsite roasting style."

WHAT TO ORDER Masa will talk you through the selection of beans available so you can choose the perfect blend. 

INSIDER TIP Switch also hold workshops regularly.

ESSENTIALS www.switchcoffeetokyo.com, Cappuccino AU $3.85

NEW ZEALAND

Toru, Auckland

THEME  Industrial

WHY WE LOVE IT "It's a great place to people-watch,  it has a warm, vibrant ambience with consistently great coffee," says Rolando. 

WHAT TO ORDER You can't go past the ricotta pancakes, served with whipped salted caramel butter and vanilla sugar.

INSIDER TIP Get up early on a Sunday morning, go for a quick walk around Victoria Park and whip up the hill to get a table before 9am – it fills up quickly.

ESSENTIALS Shop 3, Ponsonby Central, 136-138 Ponsonby Road, Auckland ,NZ, www.toru.co.nz, Coffee $ 4.50NZD for a double shot flat white.

Floriditas, Wellington

THEME  Classic

WHY WE LOVE IT  "A Wellington institution, this is a beautiful, sophisticated cafe," says Rolando.

WHAT TO ORDER They are renowned for their eggs benedict.

INSIDER TIP  The coffee comes from roasters Coffee Supreme. 

ESSENTIALS 161 Cuba Street, Wellington , NZ, www.floriditas.co.nz,  $4.50NZD for a flat white 

IF YOU MUST TAKE TEA

Visit these 10 great tearooms around the world

Mariage Freres, Paris, France

"Nobody does a 'salon de the like the French, and Mariage Freres have it done to a fine art, with menus of tea cuisine', and an accompanying tea museum," says Jill. www.mariagefreres.com

Song Tea, San Francisco, USA

Peter Luong's family has been in the tea business for many years, and since he has stepped out into specialty teas the results have been amazing. "He finds some truly special teas," says Jason.  https://songtea.com

Fortnum & Mason, London, England

When it opened three years ago, the Queen was on hand to sample some of the 80 teas on offer at Fortnum & Mason's Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon on Piccadilly. Ask a "tea-rista" to talk you through the stellar range. fortnumandmason.com

The Tea Room, Savannah, Georgia, USA

They take their tea seriously in the south, come here to try their peach iced tea (Georgia is the "peach state") or liven things up with a cup of "flaming tea" featuring a blazing brandy-soaked sugarcube. http://www.savannahtearoom.com

Sketch, London, England

"The room is a fashionista's fantasy of fairy-floss pink; the art is by David Shrigley, the 20 fragrant teas are by Jingand  and the crockery comes with its own hand-written captions," says Jill. www.sketch.london  

Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Sit down for a traditional afternoon tea and finger food in the conservatory overlooking frangipani trees for a slice of colonial-style splendour. http://www.raffles.com/siem-reap

Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa

Try their signature Mount Nelson Tea, a blend of Darjeeling, Kenya, Assam, Keemun, Yunnan, Ceylon, and rose petals from the property's garden. www.belmond.com

Ritz Carlton, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Crowds congregate at the Lobby Lounge for an afternoon tea featuring the usual three-tiered tray of delights. What really makes this venue standout is the choice of 40 Ronnefeldt blends. www.ritzcarlton.com/KualaLumpur

Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow, Scotland

Guest have been taking tea in these rooms for 111 years. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the art nouveau style, there's also a gift shop onsite. www.willowtearooms.co.uk

The Langham Xintiandi, Shanghai, China

Any high tea at a Langham hotel is going to be an occasion but the Langham Xintiandi steps it up by offering jewellery-inspired treats such as edible chocolate diamond rings and stilettos. www.langhamhotels.com/en/the-langham/shanghai/

THE PANEL 

JILL DUPLEIX

Jill Dupleix is a food writer, restaurant critic and author of  16  cookbooks. Formerly cookery editor of The Times in London, and founding editor of the Sydney Morning Herald Good Cafe Guide, Jill is currently is co-director of Australia's Top Restaurants, and is obsessed with having one great coffee a day, no matter where she is. Jill's coffee of choice is a double ristretto piccolo.  See jilldupleix.com

TOBY SMITH

Founder of Toby's Estate, Toby Smith is a passionate roaster, barista and coffee artisan. He has specialty Toby's Estate Cafes, Espresso Schools and Roasteries around Australia and the world including New York, Singapore and Manila and has a coffee plantation in Panama. Toby's cup of choice is rare coffee blend, Gesha,  cold brewed using a Chemex. See www.tobysestate.com.au

JAMES GRANT and ALEX ELLIOTT-HOWERY

Since opening their Cornersmith cafe in 2012 husband-and-wife team James and Alex have received a number of accolades including being listed multiple times in the Top 20 SMH Good Food Guide cafes list. Their sustainable philosophy is simple:  they work with the seasons and support small-scale producers. They're also about to launch a cookbook in October. Alex enjoys a good flat white every morning while James is a filter and espresso drinker. He travels with an aeropress, a set of scales and a hand grinder, just-in-case. See www.cornersmith.com.au

ROLANDO SCHIRATO

Rolando Schirato is managing director of Vittoria Food & Beverage, a third-generation family business that now exports to more than  20 countries worldwide with recent expansion into the United States.  Rolando likes cappuccinos in the morning and espressos after dinner but a good piccolo is his go-to cup of choice. See www.vittoriacoffee.com

JASON SCHELTUS

Together with Fleur and Will Studd, Jason founded Melbourne's Market Lane Coffee in 2009. Their goal is to offer only the highest quality coffee, in a transparent and accessible way. They now have three more cafes. He prefers sweet and clean coffees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Ethiopia. See marketlane.com.au

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