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Coffee is like a food lover’s football. It’s a universal language across the globe, and we’ve yet to find a location that doesn’t have its share of coffee connoisseurs. For travelers, coffee is an excellent way to break the ice and meet new people. For culinary enthusiasts, coffee will give you a unique taste on a staple drink. No matter who you are, you can be sure that tasting coffee from an unfamiliar country will provide you with insight into a new culture and delicious taste.
To help you find the best coffee on your travels, we take a look at the best coffee-buying tips across three of the world’s most popular sub-regions and continents.
Tips For a Great Cup of Coffee in South-East Asia
Much of South-East Asia including Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore are all notorious for sweet, strong coffees that are often best tasted cold.
Creamy, sugary condensed milk is often used in place of fresh milk, creating rich yet refreshing cups of coffee, especially when made with ice. Ice is either blended into the drink or placed in your cup as cubes. Alternatively, hot black coffee also proves to be a popular choice in this region.
In some cases, you’ll find that coffee beans are roasted with margarine, creating a unique taste that is not common with familiar European roasts such as French and Italian.
For a great coffee in South-East Asia, look out for “Kopi” shops if you’re in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia or the Phillippines. These are local haunts that are famed for their excellent coffee that will keep locals quenched for hours while they catch up and relax.
What to Look for When Drinking Coffee in Europe
The Italian and French coffee roasts are arguably the most used roasts across the globe. Because of this, many people hail Europe as the best place in the world for coffee, with an extensive selection to explore.
Coffee in Europe can range from fast and easy informal coffee bars that are perfect for when you’re on the go, to extravagant experiences that have been crafted by experts in the search for coffee perfection.
You’ll also find that there are many places where coffee coexists with budding art scenes. Many independent coffee shops in the UK, Germany and Scandinavia act as a creative hub for business meetings, socializing and small gatherings for the community. When looking for coffee in Europe, these coffee shops can be a fantastic way to get to know a thriving community and art scene as well as taste a delicious drink.
Europe generally tends to be quite experimental with its coffee, with many coffee shops offering standards cups such as flat whites, lattes and cappuccinos alongside cold-pressed coffee and drip coffee.
If you plan on traveling to Italy or France, we recommend trying a pure espresso in an independent and highly-rated-by-locals coffee shop. By doing this, you’ll be able to taste a French or Italian roast where it originated from, and at its best. But as the Secret Traveller says, there are rules to follow when ordering coffee in Rome – no cappuccinos after 11 am and no funky orders like hazelnut flavor shots. Keep it simple and keep it local.
Best Coffee Tips for Africa
Coffee is originally from Africa, and its beginnings can be traced to Ethiopia, which is widely regarded as the home of the native coffee bean.
Because of this, Africa is an exceptional place for coffee, with their roasts often being complex with fruity, floral aromas and sometimes spicy notes. Many industry-leading coffees come from Africa, and some of the most incredible tasting roasts are farmed against backdrops of civil war, political turmoil and extreme poverty.
Elaborate coffee ceremonies are celebrated in different regions, showcasing Africa’s unique relationship with coffee. In Ethiopia, the ceremony will include a woman wearing a traditional white dress, roasting and grinding the coffee in front of guests before proceedings to pour it into small cups known as ‘cini‘ from a height of one foot.
When looking for good coffee in this region, alongside finding local coffee shops, we recommend going directly to coffee factories and farms for guided tours and to buy coffee where it originates from.
No matter where you are in the world, we recommend that you order a coffee as the locals do. Tasting regional specialty coffees will give you an excellent opportunity to explore more adventurous tastes and ingredients, as well as get the best insight into a community coffee scene. You never know, perhaps you’ll be taking a new coffee recipe back home!