Like a lot of people, I have a bit of a coffee addiction and poor Matt doesn’t fare much better. Whether we’re travelling or at home, the first thing we do when we wake up is decide where we’re going to get coffee from and how quickly we can get there. What is the quickest route to the cafe and how little effort do I have to put into my personal appearance before I show my face there?
Being able to travel like we have, we’ve been able to try a lot of different coffee from around the world. It’s great to experience something you love in a different culture and see how they approach it. It gives you a new appreciation for your usual tastes and you’ll probably fall in love with the way the do it too! Today I wanted to share with you my five favourite coffee memories from my travels. Basically, it’s my wrap up of the best coffees from around the world, based on the places I’ve travelled to and the coffees I’ve consumed. Thanks, coffee, for all the fun memories you’ve given us over the years.
When Matt and I went through Italy as part of a group tour, our tour leader told us she would be getting an espresso shot at the next service/gas station we stopped at. We laughed, thinking she had lost her damn mind for even thinking about drinking coffee from a service station along a crappy highway. Turns out she hadn’t lost her mind because the coffee in Italy is ridiculously good, even the espresso shots you can get for 1 euro at the servo!
The espresso in Italy is so enjoyable and delicious because the focus is on the extraction process. As it’s served in espresso form, it is impossible to hide poorly extracted coffee behind milk, syrups and other things so the baristas spend a long time learning how to extract the coffee perfectly. We found ourselves waking up in the morning and looking for the nearest cafe to grab an espresso to kickstart the day and we’d stop in and have a quick top up before hitting the pavement again throughout the day. Italian espresso = life.
Arriving in Turkey I was keen to try Turkish coffee and Turkish tea as I’d heard they were both fantastic, so as soon as we arrived in Istanbul Matt and I set off trying to find a cafe. The way the coffee is presented is so lovely, it’s brought out on a small copper tray with a matching copper cup, coffee pot and sugar bowl. The coffee beans are roasted and finely ground then boiled in the pot, it’s unfiltered and served in the cup where the grounds are left to settle.
The experience of having it served in such a beautiful way, where a lot of care and attention to detail has been paid to it, was really cool. The coffee itself is really strong but still really enjoyable and you don’t drink it all as you have to leave the sludgy grounds at the bottom. Get a mouthful of those and you’ll be upset, trust me. If you’re looking for a really cool coffee experience, Turkey is it!
Indonesian Rocket Fuel
My first sip of a traditional Balinese coffee just about knocked my socks off. I wasn’t expecting it at all and thought I had been presented with a cup of instant coffee. It was so incredibly strong and so incredibly sweet that, after one sip, I felt like Frankenstein’s monster coming to life with a jolt of electricity…. “I’m AAALLIIIIVVEE.” After the initial shock, I really got into it and started ordering Balinese coffee every day.
Similar to Turkish coffee, the grounds aren’t filtered out and are left to settle in the bottom of the cup. It’s taken very sweet and very strong, but man it rips the cobwebs off you quickly and gets you ready to tackle the day ahead. Balinese coffee/straight rocket fuel is just the thing you need to get your motor running first thing in the morning, but once you get used to it, it’s hard to go back to anything else.
Vietnamese Cold Drip
One of my favourite types of coffee ever has to be the amazing cold-drip iced coffee served in Vietnam. The recipe is a traditional Vietnamese one where Vietnamese-grown dark roast coffee is coarsely ground and brewed with a small metal French drip filter. Sweetened condensed milk is added to the cold-drip and poured over ice. I love the deep, rich flavour of the beans and the sweetness of the condensed milk without it being creamy or ‘milky’.
Every day we were in Vietnam, Matt and I would search for a local coffee shop with a great view of the busy streets below and settle in with a Ca Phe Da (the Vietnamese translation for Iced Coffee). The way it is prepared and served makes that little bit more special and, given the muggy hot weather, a nice cold coffee goes down so well. If you’re visiting Vietnam, a cold-drip is a must do.
I’m a little bit/a LOT biased when it comes to Australia’s coffee scene because I think we have some of the best cafes and coffee roasters in the world, including names we know and love like Di Bella Coffee. When it comes to a good coffee, I just cannot go past a soy cappuccino from one of my favourite cafes. Mmm Soy Cap!
I always used to roll my eyes a little bit (a lot) when people raved on and on about the coffee in Melbourne, but I have to admit it really is that good. You can walk into just about any cafe with a cool look to it and get served a really great cup of coffee. Up here in Brisbane, our cafe scene has come a really long way and there are loads of fantastic coffee shops around that serve great coffee and have embraced things like cold-drip too.
- Singapore – For $1.50SG you can buy a rocket-fuel Ice Kopeh from the local hawker centre or food court, it’s a fraction of the cost of any other coffee you can buy in Singapore. It combines coarsely ground, unfiltered coffee with sweetened condensed milk and it’ll light a firecracker in your socks!
- Japan – I loved the creative approach to Japanese coffee and found it milder than any I’d tried before. They love to come up with crazy, cool and indulgent ways of serving coffee, like making cute animals out of the foam on top of your cappuccino.
- Amsterdam – Because we both know you aren’t really in that coffee shop to get a coffee, but you’ll probably have the best cafe experience of your life.
What country or city has served up the BEST coffee you’ve ever had? I’d love to hear your favourite coffee memories! Please share in the comments below or on Facebook.
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Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.