David Lynch once said, “Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.” Thankfully, you can avoid bad coffee by going to one of these cafes found across the world. From Italy’s simple black brews to Turkey’s rich, smooth sips, finding an amazing cup isn’t too difficult.
Place: Rome, Italy
Cafe to try: Caffè Greco
You won’t find a lot of fancy offerings in Italy when it comes to coffee. That’s arguably a good thing, because it means you can really taste the beans and proper brewing. Coffee is usually served black or only lightly-sweetened. If you find yourself in Rome, head over to Caffe Greco, which serves the oldest coffee in the city. Founded by Nick the Greek, the cafe has operated for over 250 years. Many famous people passed through its doors, including Lord Byron, Hans Christian Andersen, and Casanova. Because of its legacy, it’s not rare to see politicians and artists of all kinds stopping in. You can order beans from Caffe Greco online, but it won’t be the same as enjoying a cup there in person.
Place: Havanna, Cuba
Cafe to try: Cafe Escorial
In Cuba, espresso is the coffee drink. It’s served either as a cafe cubano (a shot with sugar) or a cortadito (a shot with milk). At Cafe El Escorial, however, you have dozens of choices, both hot and iced. All the coffee comes from the Escambray Mountains, which is famous for its beans. The cafe prepares all the coffee in-house and even sells bags of fresh roasted beans. If you’re staying to have a drink, the most popular is a coffee with rum. There’s also coffee daiquiris and “Mexican” coffee with tequila.
Place: Seattle, Washington
Cafe to try: Caffè Vita
Most people consider Seattle the birthplace of American coffee culture and it’s easy to see why. Starbucks was born there, but that’s not where you should go when you head into the city. Caffe Vita, which opened in 1995, now has a veritable empire of cafes in Seattle, Portland, and even Manhattan and Brooklyn. They are big into fair-trade beans and sustainability. Offerings include the “Bistro Blend,” which combines Latin American and Indonesian coffee for a citrus-and-cocoa fragrance, and “Caffe del Sol,” an expresso blend of Latin American, Indonesian, and African coffees.
Place: Addis, Ababa
Cafe to try: Tomoca
The coffee plant (coffea arabica) originated in Ethiopia, so you know their coffee has got to be good. Tomoca is the best-known roasting company and cafe, and it actually lives up to the hype. The shop itself is relatively small and there’s no seating. You also won’t find a ton of choices, but that’s because they’ve perfected their offerings. There’s the traditional buna, which is black coffee, makiatos (coffee with milk), and cappuccinos. The beans are slow-roasted the traditional Ethiopian way using modern Italian roasters, which brings out the full flavor and fragrance.
Place: Istanbul, Turkey
Cafe to try: Mandabatmaz
Turkey is so famous for its coffee, their brewing method has been listed as an intangible cultural heritage by the United Nations. The pot is called a “cezve,” which boils finely-ground beans, water, and sugar. There’s no sifter, so cups have a layer of thick, rich coffee and then the grounds on the bottom. At the Mandabatmaz cafe, beans are delivered fresh every day. At the time of a 2014 article about the place, Cemil Pilik had been brewing coffee there for almost two decades. This is a cafe that knows coffee and each cup is prepared with love and respect.
Most of us know bad coffee when we taste it, but how do you know good coffee from really good coffee? Check out this guide on tasting coffee like a pro.