Coffee is the catalyst of many great things when you travel, from waking you out of jet lag to getting you meeting ready. If your idea of a good cup of coffee involves crushed ice, caramel syrup and your name spelled incorrectly on a green and white cup, this is not the article for you. However, if house roasted, single origin or immaculately blended roasts with a variety of milks available is your thing – you’re in the right place.
One constant challenge travellers face is finding a great, unique coffee shop in cities they don’t call home, but as self professed coffee snobs, there are a few tips we’ve gained over the years which might help in this sacred pursuit…
It Starts With A Search Hack
The coffee industry makes the bar industry look like amateurs. If you search “coffee” on Google Maps, you will undoubtedly be bombarded with an option on all four corners of the street. To instantly filter out (like those coffee puns?) options which burn the living hell out of your precious coffee, try instead googling “coffee roaster” rather than just “coffee”. Another good one: “hipster coffee” in a Google search.
Some coffee joints will have roaster in their name without actually roasting, but you’ll be presented with a much shorter list, many of which do roast their own beans in house, or at least care enough to think about when and how their beans are roasted.
Ask The Coffee Snob Hive
Beyond the caffeination, great coffee tends to draw many like minded people together. They tend to enjoy travel and take pride in what they eat and drink. With that in mind, one of the best things you can do to find a great coffee spot abroad is ask the people in your favourite local spot back home.
There’s a more than fair chance that someone working behind the bar at your favourite speciality coffee spot has worked elsewhere, or has a good friend with likeminded coffee taste who does. Plus, you might just elevate small talk to medium talk while you wait.
Use Curated Lists Online
We make a point of sharing legit coffee places in each of our 48 hour guides, because no day can start without a great cup. Sometimes we even go further, with coffee specific articles. GSTP aside, resources like The Culture Trip and TimeOut are quite often reliable, or at least will point you in the direction of the good stuff.
Once you have a short list, you can always cross reference with Google, Yelp and other reviews and browse pictures online to see if the vibe fits what you’re looking for. Pictures can be so powerful.
Reverse Engineer From Your Favourite Beans
Many coffee fans have a favourite roast, region or varietal that gets them buzzing before the first sip hits the lips. If you have a favourite roaster, or distributor of great beans – which are preferably sent green and roasted in house – checking their website can be clutch.
A great bean distributor will often list where you can find their beloved products, and therefore any shop clever enough to be serving them could warrant a visit. This is a sure fire way to guarantee that you’ll be walking into a place that is at least well sourced and brewed with love. That’s usually a great start…
I love to use European Coffee Trip for finding good specialty coffee spots while in Europe. 🙂
“Speciality coffee” or “third wave coffee” have also worked for me with google search.
Excellent contribution, cheers!
Whisper “Revenue Management” to the front desk people.
“Craft coffee near me” sometimes works, depending on the country you’re in. Going in cold, though, you can always check out the equipment (a big hairy grinder is a good sign), and ask where they get their beans. If they answer, “from Italy/France/a big truck,” you should probably look elsewhere.
In some cities I prefer going off the grid and just wandering. Cities in Australia and New Zealand are the best for this. For example in Perth I stumbled across a spectacular beach side café called Yelo Trigg it was amazing. London is very good for finding fantastic places you won’t find at the top of lists. Dough bakehouse in Herne Hill was a very good find, turns out the winner of the UK Apprentice owns that shop. But still staying strong is Kaffeine and (different and much larger) Grind in London still the best even after a new wave of competition.
I’ve done this a lot….
1. Google ”sprudge *city*”
2. Google maps ”espresso” instead of coffee – still a number of not great places but a lot better than ”coffee”
3. Use google images to get an idea of the look of both the coffees they serve and interior. These pictures won’t prove the coffee is good but they will probably show you where to avoid.
3. Once you’ve found a decent coffee shop get the names of everywhere the barista recommends in the city.
In a world where most good coffee shops use local beans searching for places who use your favourite beans in a foreign city seems like a non starter.
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