No world traveller has time for bad caffeine
Once upon a time if you were an Australian traveller departing overseas, your chances of getting a decent coffee were slim at best. A burnt, bitter coffee in a styrofoam cup, or a lacklustre latte swamped in frothy foam were sadly all you could hope for – unless you were heading for Italy.
But times are a changing. While typically you won’t find a great café on every corner, if you do your research (and importantly, follow your coffee nose), you can find independent cafes delivering up decent coffee similar, if not equally as good, as your favourite java fix back home. Unsurprisingly, many times the café is either Antipodean-owned, run or influenced. Thanks Australia (OK and NZ); bringing the world good coffee one well-extracted cup at a time.
Here’s where to unearth some of the world’s best.
The United Kingdom
Over the past decade, Britain’s independent coffee scene has exploded from London, to Liverpool to Glasgow – thanks to a new breed of Antipodean-owned and driven stand-alone cafes springing up across the UK. In London itself, you will find the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, originally started by a couple of Antipodeans. Today there are multiple London outlets from Leather Lane to Carnaby Street, through to Bristol and a new Manchester outlet. See departmentofcoffee.co.uk.
Monmouth was London’s original specialist coffee shop and roasters. The owners of Market Lane in Melbourne worked here for inspiration for their revered Melbourne café, giving you some idea of the café’s reputation and popularity. 2 Park St, The Borough, monmouthcoffee.co.uk.
Kaffeine, meanwhile, is where anyone who knows anything about coffee, will direct you in London. This dimly lit, hip café with floorboards and red brick interior sells an extensive selection of house made cakes, delicious banana bread and excellent Square Mile coffee, which explains the lengthy queues. kaffeine.co.uk
In Edinburgh, try Brew Lab Coffee (brewlabcoffee.co.uk), in Glasgow try Artisan Roast (artisanroast.co.uk; also outlets in Edinburgh), while in Liverpool try Bold Street Coffee, the city’s first speciality café (boldstreetcoffee.co.uk).
Bali was once a desert for caffeine lovers. Not anymore. Try the two outposts of Revolver in Seminyak. My favourite is the original Revolver (revolverespresso.com), tucked down an obscure side street off Jalan Oberoi. Revolver run by Aussie Katie Allan, delivers some of Bali’s best coffee, fab cafe-style brekkies like back home, and has cool, friendly staff.
Butter in Canggu (butterbali.com), Seniman (senimancoffee.com) and Anomali (store.anomalicoffee.com) in Ubud (second outlet in Seminyak) are also good.
The United States
Pockets of java loveliness are cropping up across Hawaii. In Waikiki try the Hawaiian outpost of Bills Hawaii (billshawaii.com) at Australian chef Bill Grainger’s all day eatery. If you’ve flown overnight from Australia, head straight there for brunch and a jet lag punching coffee.
On the island of Maui, you can find good coffee at Sip Me (sipmemaui.com) in the bohemian former paniolo (cowboy) town Makawao. It has the feel of a Bangalow or a Bellingen, with its chic boutiques, homeware stores and cafes.
On the Big Island, the Hawaiian cowboy (paniolo) township of Waimea offers the fantastic Waimea Coffee Company (waimeacoffeecompany.com). Order a flat white and enjoy it on the veranda of this cool little town.
In Los Angles, anyone who knows their beans will direct you to Intelligensia (intelligentsiacoffee.com; they also have locations in Chicago and New York), while Joe NYC (joenewyork.com) in West Village New York (and other locations) is fantastic when visiting the Big Apple.
The French do good coffee, right? Surprisingly not, says Australian Candice Teo. Teo, formerly from Maroubra Beach in Sydney but now a resident of the French capital, says that’s why she was overjoyed when O Coffeeshop (ocoffeeshop.com) opened near her home in the 15th arrondissement. Co-founded by an Aussie (from Wollongong), with his French business partner, Teo says the single origin roast coffee here is particularly good, while you can also get a long black and a flat white. An easy 15-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, O Coffeeshop also offers delicious house made pastries while the cherry on top are the small jars of Vegemite on sale.
In Paris, Teo also recommends Coutume Café (coutumecafe.com), likewise started by an Aussie from Canberra, and KB Coffeeshop (kbcafeshop.com), a short walk from Montmartre and 10 mins walk from Sacré Coeur Basilica.
Even though Colombia is the third largest exporter of coffee, the good stuff, the beautiful beans that are shipped to Australia and made into perfectly executed lattes and piccolos, are frustratingly hard to find at the source. Thankfully a few independent cafes are serving up beautifully made coffee from local beans including the hip Pergamino (pergamino.co) in the affluent Provenza neighborhood of Medellin. In Bogata try Café Cultor (cafecultor.co), in a recycled shipping container, and Azahar Café (azaharcoffee.com), while in Cartagena you can find great coffee (and delicious cocktails after hours) at El Baron Café and Bar (elbaron.co).
Of course this is just a smattering of good cafes you can find around the world. Have you found a great cafe on your travels? Let us know, we'd love to hear about it.
As originally published in the Newcastle Herald.