Over the past decade, coffee tourism has been quietly growing in popularity, and cities all over the globe are getting in on the action.
While there is no shortage of coffee-centric locales the world over, what makes the cities on this list such stellar destinations is that they’re completely authentic. Coffee isn’t a big deal in these cities because it’s a tourism generator. Instead, it’s baked into the DNA of these locales. Whether or not the tourists come, coffee will remain an important fixture of these six destinations. And that’s what makes them some of the best places to go if you’re interested in coffee tourism.
Coffee is at the heart of Ethiopian culture and agriculture, and as a result the country is a hotbed of coffee culture. For starters, much of the world’s Arabica coffee is grown in Ethiopia. But the country isn’t just a major coffee exporter. It also places strong cultural emphasis on the brew right at home. The city of Addis Ababa is the heart of it all—it’s packed with cafes featuring a tremendous variety of coffees with flavors ranging from cloves to butter. Meanwhile, citizens are known to practice coffee ceremonies in their private homes; if you’re lucky, you’ll be invited to one of these rituals.
Hanoi is known for its unique twists on the traditional cup of joe. From egg coffee (which includes frothed eggs, butter, and milk and tastes more delicious than it might sound) to coconut coffee (which features a heaping scoop of coconut sorbet in a hot cup of java), to traditional drip Vietnamese coffee (which is topped off with sweetened condensed milk), the city is filled with cafes offering flavorful takes on coffee. It’s a fitting tribute to the fact that Vietnam is one of the world’s largest coffee exporters.
Unlike many of the entries on this list, Turkey doesn’t utilize coffee as an agricultural crop. But you wouldn’t know it from the brew’s ubiquitous presence in the country’s major cities. Coffee drinking is a daily ritual for citizens of Istanbul, where the brew is made differently than anywhere else in the world. The coffee is strong, flavorful, and sludgy on account of the fact that the finely ground beans are poured into the glass along with the liquid. For the best experience, let the grounds settle before sipping.
Brazil has been growing coffee since the 1700s, and the country has become one of the world’s largest coffee exporters in the centuries since. The crop is also at the forefront of Brazilian food culture, and São Paulo is at the heart of it all. Coffee is such a big deal in São Paulo that the city boasts 25,000 coffee shops. (Yes, you read that right.) So you won’t have to walk far to sample the brew in its various forms, from cafezhino (extremely hot, sweetened coffee) to café com leite (double espresso with hot milk).
Sure, Seattle is the birthplace of coffee behemoth Starbucks, which started up in the famous Pike Place Market in the early 1970s. But that’s not the only reason the city deserves a place on this list. Seattle is also home to a huge number of coffee roasters (including nationally recognizable Seattle’s Best), independent coffee shops, and cafes. All told, there are approximately 35 coffee shops per 100,000 Seattle residents. It’s no wonder Seattleites drink more java than any other city in the U.S.!
Coffee is such a major part of Viennese culture that in 2011 UNESCO categorized the city’s coffee shops as “intangible heritage”. As you might expect, the city is packed to the gills with coffee shops, which offer coffee staples along with the Viennese classic Melange (a mix of espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth). Due to the competition, cafés are constantly trying to stand out from the crowd. That’s a boon for tourists, who can now enjoy the fruits of these innovations in the form of unique ambiances and flavorful takes on the traditional brew.
Whether you’re looking to participate in coffee tourism or you’re simply in search of a good cup of java while traveling the world, you can’t go wrong in any of these coffee-loving cities.