World's Best Cities for Coffee

World’s Best Cities for Coffee
See Gallery
World's Best Cities for Coffee

World’s Best Cities for Coffee

When traveling, coffee lovers need to know where to go to escape the substandard American-style brew most hotels serve. There are cities that define themselves by their coffee culture, and that should not go untapped.

Image Credit: Wikimedia

#10 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a coffee powerhouse. The country, located in the Horn of Africa, is the world’s seventh-largest coffee producer and has 5,000 different strains of Arabica coffee, while other countries like Brazil and Columbia only have 20. So, there is little doubt that the coffee you are going to get in Ethiopia is good. Traditional Ethiopian coffee is roasted by hand and brewed in a traditional clay coffee pot. Nearly all restaurants and cafés in the city will have some on offer and it’s considered one of the best coffee experiences in the world. Scouting out coffee shops like Tomoca and Mokarara in Addis Ababa is highly encouraged, and taking part in an Ethiopian coffee ceremony should be an integral part of any exploration of Ethiopian culture.

Image Credit: Flickr/wikimedia

#9 Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is a city of microbrewers, roasters, bean educator, and champion baristas. A study showed that locals prefer fair-trade and organic brews here more than the commercial chain shop stuff. Independent and small-chain cafés are eager to showcase interesting coffee varieties like Clover and brewing techniques like vacuum-pot and cold-brew. Milano Coffee, the original Vancouver coffee roaster, has won awards for its coffee as well its master blender, Brian Turko, who brought a modern and unique approach to European espresso to Vancouver when he opened his Gastown shop. Milano has won three gold medals from the International Institute of Coffee Tasters in Italy.

#8 Vienna, Austria

The global consulting firm Mercer has ranked Vienna as the number-one city with the highest quality of life for four years in a row, a result of the city’s rising standards of living, advanced infrastructure, low crime levels, history and culture. Part of that culture includes coffee; in fact, Vienna fashions itself the “Coffee Capital of the World” and UNESCO has listed Vienna’s coffee houses as an invaluable part of the city’s heritage. "Since Vienna hosted the World Barista Championships in 2012, and new-style independent coffee shops began to open up, the quality of espresso drinks is steadily improving," says Vienna coffee blogger Lameen Abdul-Malik. Vienna’s historic cafés are legendary, and it’s no surprise considering that the process of filtering coffee was reportedly invented in The Imperial City in 1683. The city has a high number of cafés, including the famed Café Central, considered one of the most beautiful in the world, and Aida, a small chain of thirty or so ‘50s-style kaffees that has achieved cult status in the city.

Image Credit: Wikimedia

#7 Reykjavik, Iceland

Scandinavians have the highest coffee consumption per capita globally, so it only makes sense that Reykjavik wants to make sure its citizens and visitors are well taken care of, caffeine-wise. Some say the commitment to coffee here borders on fanaticism.

Liz Clayton, author of Nice Coffee Time, considers Kaffitár, one of the city’s larger chain cafés, to be superlative. Many of Iceland’s coffee-barista champs are creating coffee here. “The counters of Kaffitár are confusingly cluttered with everything from pastries to horoscope scrolls to Hario kettles and drippers, and you're able to order anything from the espresso family to a seasonal selection of single-origin coffees, all well-presented by the staff.” Another favorite is Kaffismiðja Íslands, where coffee is roasted onsite in a converted house-turned-café. “You won't find a better cup in Reykjavík, and you won't find a café quite like this anywhere.”

Image Credit: Flickr/gamene

#6 Honolulu

Don’t let the laid-back nature of Hawaiian culture fool you; Hawaiians are serious about their coffee. Honolulu has the third-highest number of coffee shops per capita in the U.S., and it’s also the capital of the only state in the country that grows its own beans commercially. Kona coffee, from Hawaii's Big Island, is grown in porous, mineral-rich soil, courtesy of the island’s volcanoes and hot sun, and it has a unique flavor as a result.

Image Credit: Flickr/Lauren-Bacon

#5 Rome

Rome consistently makes it onto best-of lists when it comes to cities with the best coffee. According to CNN, the nation’s best baristas call Rome home, which makes sense given that Romans drink five or more espressos a day and consider coffee bars and cafés “temples.” When you think about it, Rome defines the way the rest of the world drinks coffee. Cappuccino, latte, and macchiato are all Italian terms, and drinking coffee in Italy is an experience to be savored. Stopping to drink a cup, even if you’re standing, is more common than grabbing a coffee to-go, and Romans live by rules like “no cappuccinos after noon.” Rome- and Paris-based writer David Downie considers Caffè Sant’Eustachio one of the best cafés in the world. Owner Roberto Ricci handpicks each of the 100-percent Arabica beans in the café’s signature blend. Beans are slow-roasted over wood for a smooth, sweet and low-acidity coffee that locals and tourists line up for.

Image Credit: Flickr/Michiel Jelijs

#4 San Francisco

San Francisco has the most coffee shops per capita of any U.S. city according to WalletHub, and Foursquare data shows that it is the fifth overall in the U.S. for indie coffee shops per capita. New small-chain cafés like Blue Bottle — the highest rated indie coffee shop in the city — and Four Barrel are changing the game for coffee drinkers by offering things like a five-light siphon bar and not offering Wifi. Tried and true options like Caffe Trieste have been serving coffee to locals since the 1950s. These are just a few of the reasons San Fran is considered one of the best coffee cities in the world. Conde Nast Traveller considers the coffee at SFMOMA’s rooftop garden a work of art.

Image Credit: Flickr/Kenny Louie

#3 Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei’s strong coffee culture and abundance of unique coffee shops helps it land on the list of the Best Coffee Cities according to the BBC, USA Today and LifeHack. Beans here are high-quality, freshly roasted and slow-brewed for the best flavor. Independent coffee shops like Barbie Café, Paper Plane and Melange have cult followings. Smart Traveler ranks it among the world’s best, no doubt in part because of the beans available in Taiwan. According to reports, the growth rate of Taiwan’s imported coffee beans is more than seven percent each year, and the market is expected to grow by 15 percent. Taiwanese coffee consumption is up 400 percent in Taiwan since the 1990s and has reached an average of 100 cups per person per year. It is a city that is dedicated to coffee and the increase in small cafés and chain shops shows it. “Independent cafés here do not just compete on the quality of their coffee; there is also a strong trend of each café creating their own signature drinks. As a result, independent cafés here are adventurous with ingredients when crafting their signature drinks,” says Van Lin, co-founder of Gabee Café.

Image Credit: Flickr/Nisayeh

#2 Melbourne, Australia

World Barista Champ Pete Licata told Travel & Leisure that “It's nearly impossible to find a bad cup of coffee in Melbourne," In 2013, Melbourne hosted Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar, part of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, and the World Barista Championships. “Café culture walks” are a tourist draw, while locals prefer to occupy popular shops like Axil Coffeehouse Roasters in the Hawthorn area of Northern Melbourne and Dead Man Espresso in the South. Considered Australia’s coffee capital, Melbourne spoils its residents with an abundance of coffee-sipping locales. Shops like Market Lane Coffee source, roast, and serve coffee from some of the best growers in the world.

Image Credit: Flickr/Michelle

#1 Havana, Cuba

Some consider coffee in Cuba to be its own food group. After a drop in Cuban coffee production due to bad weather and government cut-backs, the economy and industry is now growing again to meet demands. In town, many coffeehouses grind beans source locally and directly from the Escambray and Sierra Maestra mountains, making it some of the best coffee a connoisseur can get. Former British MP and Treasury Minister Phillip Oppenheim loves Cuban coffee so much, he has invested millions in making sure Cuba restores itself as the world’s biggest coffee exporter. Since Havana is Cuba’s capital city, and one of the BBC’s picks for best coffee cities, it’s only natural that the boom in tourism and economy will hit here first. The city is fueled by café cubano, a full-bodied espresso with sugar that accompanies nearly every meal. Havana’s Old Town is peppered with cafés like Café El Escorial and Café de las Infusiones where the traditional coffee drink is perfectly made and on offer, alongside over a dozen other cups. Guests checking out one of Cuba’s busiest squares linger for hours.

Image Credit: Flickr/Martin Cathrae


When you love coffee, you love coffee. Sure, you can get a cup of Joe anywhere in the world, but true coffee connoisseurs are too discerning to drink from the carafe at the corner deli.

When traveling, coffee lovers need to know where to go to escape the substandard American-style brew most hotels serve. There are cities that define themselves by their coffee culture, and that should not go untapped.

Click Here to see the Slideshow for the World's Best Cities for Coffee

Love it or hate it, Starbucks is here to stay. It was born in Seattle, so the cradle of grunge is a given if you like your lattes. Still, there are better cities out there if you're a true coffee lover. Stumptown's roots are in Portland, so that makes it a contender for best coffee city; on the other hand, San Francisco has more coffee shops per capita and Honolulu gets props for being the capital of the only U.S. state that actually grows its own beans commercially.

Jump across the hemisphere to Italy, where Italians are so passionate about coffee they have created a coffee culture that is almost unparalleled anywhere in the world. Almost every household has a macchinetta, a stovetop aluminum percolator, and it's a rare sight to see someone drinking coffee in a paper cup on the street. No, in Rome, coffee is an experience, a moment to be savored and respected. In fact, it was a trip to Milan that first inspired Howard Schultz to remake Starbucks into its current identity as not just a coffee purveyor but a public meeting place.

Because of the variables involved in making a cup of coffee — bean origin and quality, roasts, temperature, water pressure, baristas, drink style — not to mention variations in personal taste, it's not easy to come up with a definitive list of the best coffee in the world. But there are certain cities that are definitely worth a visit if you're hoping to indulge in the art of coffee.

To develop our list, The Daily Meal considered the number of coffee shops in each city, the city's ranking on lists created by sources like Travel & Leisure and the BBC and the growth of the city's coffee culture.

Check out the slideshow above to learn the world's 10 best cities for coffee.

Food to Travel For: 150 Iconic Dishes From Around the World
Travel Around the World in 80 Desserts
10 Money Saving Travel Tips
Best Small Towns for Food
18 American Foods You Have to Travel For
What the World Eats for Lunch

Read Full Story

From Our Partners