The Five Best Places In The World To Drink Coffee
Second Home, Melbourne. Photograph courtesy of Second Home
From Stockholm to Melbourne – where to go to get your caffeine fix.
That first coffee of the morning is the most important thing to pass your lips all day. If it’s unsatisfactory – too bitter, perhaps, or tepid – it can ruin that 9.00am meeting. Get it right, however, and you’re set up for a perfect day’s productivity, be that a nine-to-five or a city break. To ensure you get the best cup of coffee, wherever you are in the world, we’ve put together a list of what we consider to be the top five caffeine curators.
Café Grumpy, NYC
Café Grumpy, NYC. Photographs courtesy of Café Grumpy
Don’t be fooled by the name: Café Grumpy’s baristas are possibly the happiest New Yorkers in the city. They specialise in lattes, peddling some seriously delicious combinations using its bespoke Heartbreaker blend, which has hints of caramel, toasted almond and a slight acidity. Don’t be surprised to find smoked Himalayan salt and toasted marshmallow in your drink; this cafe treats coffee with an irreverence you won’t find in Rome or Paris and is all the better for it. It has also taken the controversial decision to ban laptops from its shops – cue an army of picketing hipsters waving heavily stickered MacBooks. “People were queuing for tables and it meant people couldn’t chat with their friends,” says Café Grumpy’s chief executive Ms Caroline Bell. “Now it feels more fun and more interactive.” It’s a place to meet and talk, rather than huddle behind a screen building websites.
Café Central Vienna, Vienna
Café Central, Vienna. Photographs courtesy of Café Central at Palais Ferstel, Vienna
Coffee in Vienna is treated with an almost religious fervour. If there’s another city on earth with more than 30 variations of coffee, we’re yet to discover it. The Austrians – like the Italians – also like adding alcohol to their coffee, which they call a “correction”. At any point in the afternoon you’ll find workers and tourists alike taking coffee “corrected” with grappa, brandy or sambuca. Kaffeehauses here could easily be confused with churches in any other part of the world, occupying the grandest buildings with staff curating caffeine with piety and pride. Certainly the most iconic is the city’s Café Central. Since 1876, some of the world’s greatest minds have met here over kaffee und kuchen. The likes of Trotsky, Freud and Lenin have all taken coffee and cigars in the vaulted halls of the former stock market in the Innere Stadt district of the city.
Second Home, Melbourne
Second Home, Melbourne. Photographs courtesy of Second Home
Although only about 50 years young (Italian migrants popularised the espresso in the city after WWII), Melbourne’s coffee culture belies its years. Fledgling it may be, but immature it is not. Cafés here embody the city’s start-up spirit: most are independent and generally run by young business people who make the most of the city’s tax breaks and incentives to entrepreneurs. Case in point is the stellar Second Home, housed in a building by Mr Alistair Knox, a self-taught architect and one of the city’s prodigal sons. The baristas are almost local celebrities, and coffee served here is produced by boutique Rosso Roasting Co, who roasts bespoke beans for the shop. The style of coffee is characterised by the fact it uses no robusta beans in the blend, creating a serve that’s crisp with a short finish. In true Melbournian fashion, tables are shared to encourage conversation and provide the forum for new businesses to be incubated.
Johan & Nyström, Stockholm
Johan & Nystrom, Stockholm. Photographs by Mr Jonatan Låstbom. Courtesy of Johan & Nystrom
This place couldn’t personify Scandi-cool more if it tried. Of course it doesn’t try to, which is the point. Double-height ceilings give way to teal-hued walls, a parquet bar and shelves packed floor-to-ceiling with varying blends from the on-site roaster. In the window, there’s coffee grinding and blending apparatus that looks fresh out of a Gothic torture chamber, charting the development of bean extraction from the 19th century to the present day. It’s as much about education as it is imbibing; there are two full-time coffee scholars on hand to talk you through any step of the coffee production process. A shrine to the purist, every Sunday they switch off the espresso machines and serve black coffee only. On any other day, try the cap-oat-cinno: a coffee served topped with oat milk.
Left: Caravan Bankside, photograph by Ms Kristin Perers. Photographs courtesy of Caravan
It’s really saying something for the quality of Antipodean coffee culture that London’s best brew bar and roastery is run by a Kiwi expat. Mr Miles Kirby launched Caravan on Exmouth Market in 2010, bringing his nation’s breakfast and brunch culture with him. The coffee produced from the beans roasted on site is pure ebony perfection, particularly when enjoyed with a side of chorizo and eggs – which can also be enjoyed at the King’s Cross restaurant, launched in 2012. If you spy its Kilimbi bean from Rwanda gracing the back bar, snap it up. It’s packed with intense pineapple notes. Need another hit? Later this year, Caravan is opening a new emporium to coffee in an 8,500sq ft Victorian warehouse north of King’s Cross, which will double as an education studio and shop.