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The Great Global Coffee Tour




I was excited to read about this study the other day – coffee (which I tend to inhale every morning) is good for you! Okay, maybe the study isn’t exactly conclusive, but it affords me plausible deniability, which I think is all that anyone who drinks coffee is looking for.

It’s one thing to gulp down a cup in the midst of your morning routine or from a travel mug as you schlep in to the office. It’s quite another to savor the world’s favorite drink in a spectacular setting that seems to make time stop. Coffee at home is about rush-rush-rush. Coffee when you’re traveling is (or at least can be) about complete relaxation.

First, let’s talk about the source. The best coffee in the world is grown between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn – most notably in Central and South America, eastern and northern Africa and Southeast Asia. These areas combine rich soil, a moist tropical climate and high altitudes that are perfect for great coffee beans. The harvesting and roasting process is an intricate one; many coffee plantations offer tours where you can enjoy the freshest coffee you’ll ever drink in the cupping room.

And then there’s the simple extravagance of relaxing over a robust, perfectly-made cup in the middle of an ancient city in the heart of the “coffee bean belt.” So add these coffee experiences to your bucket list:

  • Addis Ababa. This sprawling city offers a unique coffee experience – the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony, a spectacularly aromatic event that coffee lovers must experience. If you miss out on the coffee ceremony, you can relax at a classic coffee shop such as Tomoca or the trendy chain Kaldi’s.
  • Istanbul. Believe it or not Starbucks has been making inroads among Turks who have a millennium-long tradition of great coffee. But you can get that anywhere. Traditional “Türk kahve” is strong, a thick brew that has to be sipped slowly. If you’re in the Grand Bazaar along “Rug Street” visit Etham Tezçakar Kahveci, a tiny shop (one table!) that’s been a favorite of merchants there for more than 100 years – or maybe one of these other authentic Turkish coffee houses.
  • Vienna. Thank the Turks for this. When they invaded in the 17th century they brought coffee along with them. “Kaffeehauskultur” has been refined since then. When you visit, order something truly Viennese, like perhaps a “Kaisermelange” – a large mocha coffee without milk, stirred with an egg yolk, honey and cognac or brandy. Now that’s a dessert!
  • Rome. Relax in the middle of a piazza overlooking history, or drink an espresso the Italian way – at a counter in one or two quick gulps and then you’re on your way.
  • Melbourne. The coffee craze in Australia is fairly recent – only about 25 years old, but they do it right. Many people consider Melbourne to be the best coffee city in the world, home to rich Italian and local roasts. Unfortunately, you just missed the 2012 International Coffee Expo.
  • Buenos Aires. Argentinians talk about everything over coffee – whether it’s a relaxing casual conversation with friends or an intense business conversation. The heavy influence of Spanish and Italian culture has made this a robust coffee culture. The coffee is almost never “to go” – Argentinians much prefer a leisurely visit in a café over café chicos and cortados in situ

There are hundreds – if not thousands – of great cafes around the world where you can stop, enjoy a great cup and have an unforgettable experience while doing just about nothing.

And besides, it’s good for you. (Probably.)


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Linda Barbara

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