Lonely Planet's tips and advice on coffee: Where to find the best coffee in the world

Since Australia's first espresso machine was installed at Cafe Florentino (now Grossi Florentino) in Melbourne in 1928, our love affair with coffee has grown unabated, largely thanks to the wave of 1950s post-war immigrants, who transformed the tea-sipping habits of the old Empire to a whole new obsession.

Today we're absolutely crazy for the stuff. Coffee has become an artisanal product as opposed to a commodity. Australia's internationally revered baristas are educated in every step of the coffee-making process, from farming beans to brewing. And consumers are concerned with the sourcing and sustainability of their beans. We don't just want a pick-me-up; we want to feel part of something more.

Australia is a country where coffee isn't a practicality but part of a lifestyle and the fact that Starbucks failed here doesn't make us coffee snobs – we're more likely to write down our five favourite cafes for you to try than to judge your order (just call us connoisseurs, thanks).

But all this coffee savvy means we are frequently disappointed by the coffee offerings overseas. A bucket of weak swill in Paris, a too-bitter espresso in Italy, or a caramel-infused monstrosity in the US can ruin an Aussie aficionado's holiday – not because we're coffee snobs. (Did we mention that?) Oh no. It's just because, well, how can other places get it so wrong?

Fortunately, Australia's coffee reputation has spread far and wide, giving rise to its emulation in places from New York to Norway. So there's your long black sorted.

But not all of the more traditional coffee "over there" is bad coffee. In fact, some of it is downright sublime. And a lot of it is, after all, a continuation of the traditions and origins that brought coffee here in the first place.

With that in mind, this edit of the new book Lonely Planet's Global Coffee Tour provides a list of great coffee places around the world, some traditional, some so-called third wave. You need never have a bad holiday coffee again.

THE AMERICAS

CANADA

Canada's speciality coffee culture is still in its infancy, but more Canadians are beginning to take an interest in quality over convenience – you can now find a thriving independent coffee scene in almost every major city.

TRY

Advertisement

Kicking Horse Coffee, Invermere, British Columbia

Canada's largest brand of organic fair-trade coffee. Their bright, casual cafe, located outside their roasting plant and within an easy drive of Banff National Park, is a popular stopping point for Rocky Mountain road-trippers.

DETAILS

491 Arrow Rd, Invermere, British Columbia. kickinghorsecoffee.com

NEARBY

Lussier Hot Springs

Explore mountain peaks, rock canyons and grasslands in this diverse park. Soaking in the mineral pools at Radium Hot Springs is a highlight.

env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks

COLOMBIA

Colombia is the world's third-largest coffee producer and its major coffee-growing region,  the so-called Coffee Triangle, is now even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Coffee is truly king here.

TRY

Cafe Jesus Martin, Salento

If the bland reality of Colombian coffee in situ has you hanging out for a decent cuppa, head straight to its source in the Coffee Triangle. Cafe Jesus Martin is in the region's oldest town, Salento, where colourful buildings spill down the streets like rows of sweets. Opened in 2008 by the son of a local coffee farmer, the cafe is on a mission to show Colombians what coffee can really be. Beans are sourced from Jesus Martin's own plantations and other small producers.

DETAILS

Carrera 6A No 6-14, Salento, Quindio. cafejesusmartin.com

NEARBY

National Coffee Park

Walk or ride a horse through this beautiful valley, spiked with the world's tallest palm trees.

parquedelcafe.co

CUBA

Cuba has long been one of the world's great coffee growers. The 1959 revolution and US embargo ripped a large hole in Cuba's coffee industry but, after years in the doldrums, coffee culture is making a comeback. A flurry of new cafes has recently opened in Havana.

TRY

El Cafe, Havana

Nelson Rodriguez Tamayo's mission to serve espresso, along with sourdough and fried egg breakfasts, is a result of him returning to Cuba from London in 2014 with his young family. At the busy caffeine refuge he opened in 2016 with Marinella Abbondati, tables and mismatched chairs are clustered on pretty Spanish tiles. Order the cafe frappe, served in a chunky American diner glass.

DETAILS

Amargura #358 between Villegas and Aguacate streets, Havana; facebook.com/elcafehavana

NEARBY

Experimental Gallery

A colonial corner space sells quirky memorabilia.

Corner of Amargura and Aguacate streets.

MEXICO

Although rarely mentioned in global top-10 lists, Mexico is actually the world's eighth-largest coffee producer, with a strong bias towards organic fair-trade beans. Its coffee is largely a tale of three states: Veracruz on the Atlantic coast, Oaxaca in the central south and Chiapas wedged up against the border with Guatemala.

TRY

Gran Caf de la Parroquia, Veracruz

The Gran Parroquia is more than a mere cafe; it's an historic monument, in operation since 1808 and still serving around 3000 customers a day. When you order a cafe lechero, a waiter in a starched white coat brings you an espresso in a glass. If you require milk, you have to tap your spoon on your glass to attract the attention of another waiter who deftly navigates around the tables with a steaming jug of leche.

DETAILS

Av Gomez Farias 34, Veracruz; laparroquia.com

NEARBY

Museo Historico Naval

Veracruz's best museum with maritime exhibits documenting old naval spats.

gob.mx/semar

United States

America has always called itself the "melting pot", and the swirling together of disparate cultures has had a direct impact on the country's approach to coffee over the years. In recent decades, headlined by java juggernaut Starbucks, the brewing process became gussied up with foam, cream, and extra syrups, toppings and flavours.

Today, America's baristas and roasters are moving deeper down the speciality coffee rabbit hole and emphasising the product instead of the marketing techniques. And as for size, bigger is no longer better.

TRY

Caffe Reggio, New York City

Caffe Reggio served the first cappuccino in the United States, and proudly exhibits the enormous espresso machine that crafted it in 1927. The Italian gem has been a haunt of New York City college students for decades and is a top spot for a leisurely afternoon of espresso, tiramisu and people-watching.

DETAILS

119 Macdougal St, New York City. caffereggio.com

NEARBY

Washington Square Park

Famous for its marble arch, fountain, demonstrations and built-in chess tables.

ASIA

INDONESIA

In the world's fourth-largest producer, barista-led speciality coffee bars are finally opening up in all the major cities, promoting Indonesia's distinctive home-grown varieties. Indonesia boasts a host of other wonderful brews to choose from. We'd suggest avoiding the controversial Kopi Luwak, though.

TRY

Seniman Coffee Studio, Ubud

Seniman Coffee Studio is the real seed-to-cup deal when it comes to craft coffee. The cafe has the feel of a bohemian clubhouse where animated baristas pull espressos for curious tourists, locals and expats, and coffee professionals and barmen hang out with restaurant chefs. Try the Ice Black, a blend of Sumatra gayo, Bali pulp natural and fully washed beans brewed for eight to 10 hours using cold water and ice.

DETAILS

5 Jalan Sriwedari, Ubud, Bali; senimancoffee.com

NEARBY

Ubud Royal Palace

Still the official residence of the ruler of Ubud, the grounds and temple are open to the public.

JAPAN

Originating in the early 20th century, kissaten were portals into an exotic world and carried a whiff of the demimonde. Today the word is used to describe a coffee shop that embraces an aesthetic and taste that predates the arrival of mass-market chains. Every city now has an indie roaster, even though, in a typically tiny shop, the roaster might take up a third of the square footage.

Convenience stores and vending machines are also the places to try canned coffees (kan kohi).

TRY

Cafe de L'Ambre, Tokyo

Cafe de L'Ambre has a rare pedigree: Sekiguchi Ichiro first opened the shop in 1948, making it one of Tokyo's oldest remaining coffee shops. He's now more than 100 years old, yet several days a week you can still see him, behind the window, roasting beans in small batches on an ancient Fuji roaster. Today, the shop is equal parts local gathering spot and pilgrimage destination.

DETAILS

8 Chome-10-15 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo.

NEARBY

Kabuki-za

Tokyo's only theatre dedicated to the centuries-old art of kabuki.

kabuki-za.co.jp

SINGAPORE

Coffee has long been served in Singapore's ubiquitous hawker centres. Don't expect silky milk lattes or rich espressos though; Singaporeans love their coffee dark, oily and sweet, usually made from robusta beans roasted with margarine or butter and sometimes sugar. But Singapore, like many affluent cities, is experiencing a speciality coffee boom.

TRY

Chye Seng Huat Hardware

Run by the folks who started Papa Pahleta, one of Singapore's earliest speciality coffee roasteries and retailers, CSHH is now arguably Singapore's most successful cafe. The setting – a tasteful modern renovation – inside a former hardware and metal-working store is perfect for slugging back espressos and watching the world go by. The courtyard is home to Beer Stall.

DETAILS

150 Tyrwhitt Rd, Jalan Besar, Singapore; cshhcoffee.com

NEARBY

National Museum of Singapore

Learn about Singapore's history and food in this slick, modern museum.

nationalmuseum.sg

THAILAND

Think caffeinated beverages in Thailand, and most people picture Thai tea, the orange, milky, sweet beverage, generally drunk cold. But Thailand has a low-key though long-standing legacy of coffee, introduced by Chinese immigrants.

In recent years, Thailand's coffee scene has become just about as sophisticated as anywhere in the world – in the larger cities, anyway.

TRY

Akha Ama, Chiang Mai

The Akha is one of many hill tribes found in northern Thailand, and for several decades has been producing coffee near the village of Maejantai, in Chiang Rai Province. The cafe was established by an Akha woman who wanted to provide a conduit for local farmers to sell, process and promote their coffee, using only arabica beans and 100 per cent organic farming methods.

DETAILS

Hussadhisewee Rd, Soi 3 Chang Phuak, Chiang Mai; akhaama.com

NEARBY

Wat Phra Singh

Chiang Mai's most revered temple is especially venerated for its Lion Buddha.

VIETNAM

The French brought coffee to Vietnam in 1857 and today it is the world's second largest bean producer. Hanoi is the caffeine capital, home to some surprisingly tasty concoctions where whipped egg or yoghurt can take the place of milk. In modern Ho Chi Minh City, the emerging craft coffee scene offers stylish shrines to the drink – and great taste to match.

TRY

K'Ho Coffee, Dalat

K'Ho Coffee is a co-operative of coffee farmers made up of K'Ho families, an ethnic minority living in the forests of Vietnam's Central Highlands. This co-operative nurtures heirloom arabica trees, planted in Vietnam by French colonists in the 1860s. K'Ho Coffee is a 10-kilometre ride from Dalat by mototaxi; visitors are welcome to tour the farm, sample the coffee and buy beans.

DETAILS

Bonneur' C Village, near Dalat; khocoffee.com

NEARBY

Elephant Falls

Named after a rock that resembles the head of a pachyderm, these powerful falls are reached via steep, uneven stairs.

EUROPE

AUSTRIA

Austria's obsession with coffee dates back to 1683 and the Battle of Vienna when the retreating Ottoman invaders dumped sacks of beans at the city gates. The Kaffeehaus soon became an ubiquitous extension of society. A new breed of micro-roasters and cafes is now emerging.

TRY

Alt Wien Kaffee

Slip down a side street just back from the Naschmarkt and follow your nose to the tantalising aroma of Alt Wien. Alt Wien was established by Christian Schrodl, who since 2000 has invested time, energy and a whole lot of love into sourcing top-grade organic, Fairtrade beans. His mission? To make Vienna's very best coffee.

DETAILS

Schleifmuhlgasse 23, Vienna; altwien.at

NEARBY

Naschmarkt

A veritable feast of cafes, delis and produce stalls selling everything from spices, cheeses and meats to exotic fruit and veg.

FRANCE

Coffee in France can be disappointing: traditional cafes complacently serve the same cafe, aka an espresso cup filled to the brim with dark bitter coffee of low-grade robusta beans, safe in the knowledge that French cafe culture is hallowed.

A handful of nouvelle-generation, well-travelled baristas, while respecting traditional brewing methods, are now sourcing and roasting exceptional beans, ensuring a serious cup of coffee can at last be found in France.

TRY

Lomi, Paris

Tourists rarely wander into this gritty corner of Montmartre, but Lomi is always packed with a mix of colourful neighbourhood locals and coffee enthusiasts drawn by its reputation as one of the most exciting craft roasters in Paris. The cafe section looks like an old abandoned factory, with rusty metal girders, peeling paint on the walls, simple wooden tables and old leather couches.

DETAILS

3ter rue Marcadet, 18e, Paris; cafelomi.com

NEARBY

Clignancourt Flea Market

Attracting 3000 traders and 180,000 visitors each weekend, from high-priced antiques to cheap bric-a-brac, you're sure to find something here.

GERMANY

When it comes to coffee, Germany is less developed than other European countries. But in recent years, Berlin has led the charge in the demand for and appreciation of speciality coffee, with the capital now home to a vast number of outstanding coffee bars and roasters.

TRY

The Barn, Berlin

Ralf Ruller imposes strict bans on buggies, laptops and milk alternatives. But he's created a speciality heavyweight whose roasts are now served in some of the best coffee bars in the world. In Berlin, three sites bear the Barn name, but it's the Schonhauser Allee one, with roaster and coffee academy set in a space where rustic wood meets Nordic chic, that's the place to head.

DETAILS

Schonhauser Allee 8, Berlin; thebarn.de

NEARBY

Kulturbrauerei

A stunning industrial space that's been converted into a multi-functional cultural centre hosting concerts, theatre shows, markets and much more. Kulturbrauerie.de

ITALY

Italians love coffee so much you might think that they invented the drink. They didn't. But in 1906, Italy's signature espresso was first introduced by Luigi Bezzera and Desiderio Pavoni, two men whose machine improved on the one invented in 1884 by Angelo Moriondo, although it took another 40 years for Gaggia to develop the lever machine we're familiar with today.

The technological marvel of the espresso machine has powered the Italian workforce ever since.

Italy's multi-bean blends, dark roasts and short, sharp espresso shots are the antithesis of today's speciality coffee movement. Things are slowly changing, however, thanks to a new breed of coffee roasters.

TRY

Illy Coffee Factory, Trieste

This historic Adriatic port has been importing coffee beans since the 18th century, and today some 2½ million coffee bags pass through from plantations across the globe. It's also home of probably the world's most well-known coffee brand, the family-run Illy, whose distinctive blend is sold in 140 countries. Book a one-hour factory tour and try the Trieste cappuccino, an espresso in a small glass topped with a little steamed whole milk.

DETAILS

110 Via Flavia, Trieste; unicaffe.illy.com

NEARBY

Piazza Unita d'Italia

The largest sea-facing square in Europe, Trieste's magnificent piazza is lined with opulent palaces, churches and grand art nouveau cafes.

UNITED KINGDOM

Coffee culture took a long time to get going in Britain but it's everywhere these days. Big chains dominate the high street, but there's a thriving specialist scene too. Small indie cafes are commonplace, and while in-house roasting tends to be a rarity, the UK has an ever-growing list of top-notch, small-batch microroasters.

TRY

Climpson & Sons, London

Ian Burgess' shabbily stylish shop brings to mind the East End of yesteryear, with its old-school panelled windows, peeling wooden frames and stark black-and-red lettering, looking rather like a butcher's shop from the 1940s (which the premises once was).

Inside, there are no tables, just benches and chairs, to encourage customers to mingle. Coffee comes fresh every day from its own roastery-bistro, a characterful space squeezed under railway arches near London Fields.

DETAILS

67 Broadway Market, London; climpsonandsons.com

NEARBY

Broadway Market

One of London's top food markets runs right outside the door.

broadwaymarket.co.uk

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

ETHIOPIA

The arabica coffee plant is native to the south-western highlands of Ethiopia, and it was from here that coffee colonised the world.

Ever since the brief and troubled occupation by the Italians in the mid-20th century, Ethiopians have been among the most prolific coffee drinkers on Earth and espresso bars seem to be everywhere. Ethiopia's renowned coffee ceremony follows a meal and is a central element to any Ethiopian social gathering, whether for family or business purposes.

TRY

Tomoca, Addis Ababa

Built by the Italians in 1953, Tomoca has barely changed in the decades since – the period decor, the high stools, the Ethiopians quietly contemplating their morning brew. It's a marvellous introduction to the world of Ethiopian coffee.

DETAILS

Wavel St, Addis Ababa; tomocacoffee.com

NEARBY

Itegue Taitu Hotel

One of the loveliest old mansions of Addis, where a good vegetarian lunchtime buffet, fine views and an old-world atmosphere are in the mix. taituhotel.com

LEBANON

The roots of Lebanese coffee stretch back centuries to the village tradition of families roasting arabica beans themselves, then finely grinding them and boiling up a seriously strong brew. Visit a Lebanese family today and you will be immediately offered a tiny glass of scalding, bitter coffee. Out on the street, there is both traditional and modern. In the old-fashioned cafes, habitues enveloped by clouds of narghile smoke spend hours over a small copper pot of coffee, while in contemporary cafes baristas prepare an AeroPress or flat white.

TRY

Cafe Younes, Beirut

The Younes roastery has been providing Lebanon's finest coffee since 1935. When Cafe Younes opened a casual coffee shop next to the roastery in 2008, it immediately became everyone's favourite hangout in the bohemian Hamra neighbourhood, offering its fans not just the famous coffee but tasty food, art exhibitions, occasional poetry readings and concerts.

DETAILS

Neemat Yafet St, Beirut; cafeyounes.com

NEARBY

Amal Bohsali

Amal Bohsali has been baking irresistible pastries since 1878. Watch the master-patissiers at work in their Hamra showroom. abohsali.com.lb

SOUTH AFRICA

Ricoffy – an instant brew made up of coffee and chicory – has a heritage that dates back to 17th-century French Huguenot settlers, and it's still popular. But luckily there are now plenty of alternatives. The South African coffee renaissance began when Vida e Caffe opened on Cape Town's Kloof Street. Vida soon became a nationwide chain and a few years later in Cape Town, micro-roasteries started to appear, the first South African baristas emerged and ordering a coffee became something of an art form.

TRY

Truth, Cape Town

36 Buitenkant St, Cape Town; truth.coffee

This place is the mad-scientist-in-an-antique-shop embodiment of steampunk chic: exposed bulbs and extension cords dangle from bare ceilings; ornate, empty frames hang on the walls; staff decked out in top hats, bustles and flying goggles. And at the centre of it all is Colossus, a vintage Probat coffee roaster hailing from the 1940s that offers the real reason this place has been voted the best coffee shop in the world.

NEARBY

District Six Museum

This deeply moving museum documents the forced removals of the apartheid era, when non-white citizens were evicted, homes were bulldozed and communities ripped apart.

districtsix.co.za

OCEANIA

AUSTRALIA

You can't have a conversation about coffee without mentioning Australia. Aussies didn't invent coffee, nor were they first to serve it, but the country – in particular Melbourne – has helped make coffee what it is today across the world.

TRY

Dawn Patrol Coffee, Kangarilla, South Australia

On the outskirts of McLaren Vale sits the southern state's best boutique coffee roaster, Dawn Patrol Coffee. Cleverly adopting the wine industry's cellar-door approach to tasting coffee, owners Dom and Nick fling open the doors of their roasting shed on a Sunday, inviting the general public in to smell, touch and taste their premier blends.

DETAILS

65 Days Road, Kangarilla. dawnpatrolcoffee.com.au

NEARBY

The Kitchen Door at Penny's Hill

One of McLaren Vale's most picturesque dining spots, offering a seasonal menu comprised of South Australia's best produce. pennyshill.com.au

NEW ZEALAND

It was in the 1980s that bohemian cafes such as Auckland's Cafe DKD and Wellington's Midnight Espresso became the favoured haunts of indie musos, undergraduates and alternative-minded teens. Cafe culture is now mainstream in NZ and a certain quality is taken for granted. By the time the big American chains tried to make inroads with their coffee-esque confections, Kiwis were already used to a far superior brew at their neighbourhood cafe.

TRY

Allpress Espresso, Auckland

One of the trailblazers of the New Zealand coffee scene, it has its own showcase roastery cafes in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Melbourne, Sydney, Byron Bay, Tokyo and London.

DETAILS

8 Drake St, Freemans Bay, Auckland; allpressespresso.com

NEARBY

Victoria Park Market

Dominated by a tall brick chimney, this surprisingly elegant complex of Victorian-era, industrial buildings contains a smattering of shops, bars and restaurants. victoriaparkmarket.co.nz

COFFEE ODDITIES AROUND THE WORLD

If you've mastered nitro brew and ristretto, it's time to up your coffee game with these oddballs from the global coffee menu.

KAFFEOST – FINLAND & SWEDEN

Curdled milk and rennet is baked until golden, cut into cubes the size of croutons and then put in an empty cup topped with black coffee. Think of it as the lumpy alternative to adding milk.

SEA SALT COFFEE – TAIWAN

Served at Taiwanese coffee chain Cafe 85°C, this bestselling beverage consists of a thick layer of salty cream on top of sweetened cold brew coffee.

BULLETPROOF COFFEE – US

An American health specialist formulated this recipe for coffee mixed with grass-fed butter and coconut oil. Fans say the resultant frothy, oily drink suppresses appetite and improves concentration.

MONSOON MALABAR – INDIA

Mimicking an accidental by-product effect on beans during 19th-century exporting, this drink is made from coffee seeds left in burlap sacks out in the open air.

KOPI CHAM – MALAYSIA

This popular drink is comprised of a mix of coffee and milky tea. It is also known as yuenyeung, meaning mandarin ducks in Chinese.

CA PHE TRUNG – VIETNAM

Black coffee with egg yolk. Other variations include condensed milk, sugar and creamy white cheese.

KOPI JOSS – INDONESIA

In the 1960s a Javanese fellow plopped a piece of glowing charcoal into his coffee to alleviate stomach problems. It worked, and today in Yogyakarta near the main train station you can try it.

CAFE BOMBON – SPAIN

Part coffee, part dessert, this sickly sweet drink originated in the city of Valencia, and is comprised of equal parts espresso and condensed milk.

10 COFFEE SPECIALTIES AROUND THE WORLD

LEBANON

Traditional coffee – boiled continuously, intensely strong and served in a small rakweh metal pot.

CANADA

Double double – drip coffee with two creams and two sugars.

COSTA RICA

Cafe chorreado – hot water poured through ground coffee in a cloth filter.

CUBA

Cafe Cubano – an espresso shot sweetened with a mix of whipped sugar and the first drops of espresso through the machine.

MEXICO

Cafe de olla – Coffee prepared in a traditional earthen pot.

MALAYSIA

Kopi ais – coffee with ice cubes plus sugar and condensed milk. (Many other Asian countries have a version of coffee with condensed milk.)

AUSTRIA

Melange – a kind of cappuccino with whipped cream.

NORWAY

Filter – A classic light filter coffee served black.

TURKEY

Turk kahve – the famous Turkish coffee, made of finely ground, unfiltered coffee.

NEW ZEALAND

Flat white – They claim to have invented it.

This is an edited extract from Lonely Planet's Global Coffee Tour (Lonely Planet; $29.99). See www.shop.lonelyplanet.com 

Comments