Photo: Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock

11 of the World's Best Cities for Coffee Lovers

Student Work Food + Drink
by Elyssa Goldberg Jan 10, 2015
1. Sacramento

Sacramento made its way onto the list of Sprudge’s underrated coffee cities in the United States. Doing business in town requires wading through the red tape doled out by California’s capital, and for the coffee scene, that means coffee shop owners are locals comprising a tight-knit community — very few outsiders buy in. A recent study also included Sacramento among the US cities with the highest number of independent coffee shops per capita.

With institutions like Temple Coffee Roasters, which leads with the highest-rated coffee according to the Coffee Review, Old Soul Co., Insight Coffee Roasters, Fluid Espresso Bar, Chocolate Fish Coffee, and Naked Lounge, the craft coffee scene in Sacramento can contend — and probably outcompete — that of New York, San Francisco, Portland, and elsewhere.

2. Manila

Third wave coffee is on the rise in the Manila, the sprawling, hurried capital of the Philippines. Duck & Buvette, located at Shangri-La Plaza, is among the third wave coffee shops sprouting up all over the city, serving V60 pourovers of Intelligentsia beans alongside fully-composed dishes like duck confit and candied bacon. Refinery follows a similar model, adding flavored coffee drinks — an orange-infused cappuccino, for instance — to its roster, on top of more traditional espresso drinks. Toby’s Estate, an Australian export that has also spread through New York, has an outpost in Salcedo Village. Craft Coffee Revolution, Yardstick, and a least a half a dozen more are leading the charge, bringing latte art rosettes and cafe culture to the 25.5 million people of Metro Manila.

3. Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver may well be the epicenter of Canadian coffee. Its residents look beyond Starbucks and Tim Hortons, preferring well-crafted brews made with beans sourced directly from growers. Among the heavy hitters are Elysian Coffee, which roasts for both of its shops, Revolver, Prado, Kafka’s Coffee and Tea, and 49th Parallel — also a roaster. There’s a coffee in Vancouver for everybody, whether you prefer slow-to-make pourovers or espresso drinks.

4. Dublin

Dublin is a city known to imbibe — mostly alcohol, not coffee. But the boozy city is taking to cafe culture, most shops opening in the city center — Dublin 2 most of all. Latte art can be elaborate in Dublin, where shops like The Art of Coffee look beyond basic rosettes. Vice Coffee Inc., The Fixx, which roasts, Bald Barista, and Butlers Chocolate Cafe also serve up beautifully-crafted espresso drinks.

Still, there’s no Dublin coffee scene without talking about the granddaddy of them all, 3FE, founded by a former investment banker-turned-expert barista who is well-versed on several different preparation styles. Popular among Google Dublin employees, the shop, which also offers coffee tasting menus to its customers, is no doubt somewhat hipper-than thou. Yet it is comfortable and well-located enough, near the Grand Canal Dock, that you might ask for your drink in dishware to stay. Dublin will also be home to the 2016 World Barista Championships.

5. Taipei

A friend who lives in Taipei told me that young people don’t hang out at bars; they hang at cafes. Unlike many cities (including several on this list) that import third wave coffee culture from elsewhere and plop it down without context, Taipei is a city that has coffee steeped into its national heritage and sense of identity.

Fong Da is the oldest and best known shop in the city. Some also say it introduced the Taiwanese to iced coffee, the coffee gods’ gift to residents of a humid and unforgiving climate. GetMoreLab and OKLao Farms are among the new set of shops, importing high-quality beans from international roasters and catering to the city’s young people. Not all of the cafes here are about the coffee, though: Topo Cafe surrounds its customers with water, a pool of koi beneath their feet; Barbie Cafe is pink like its namesake doll. Either way, all customers are greeted with the friendliness and warmth Taipei natives are known for — and you won’t have trouble finding a coffee shop to rest your legs and refuel at in this walking city. Rumor has it there are hundreds of spots to choose from.

6. Oslo

Many will say it’s not exactly a secret that Oslo is all serious about its coffee. Oslo roasts its coffee light: some joke that it’s the equivalent of pouring water over high-quality, unroasted green beans and letting that drip into your cup. The acidic, very bright coffee in Oslo is celebrated by its fans, Oliver Strand among them. Acolytes of Norwegian coffee fawn over Tim Wendelboe, Java Espressobar & Kaffeforretning and Mocca Kaffebar & Brenneri — the last two the brainchildren of the very first World Barista Champion, Robert Thoresen. No matter where you go in Oslo, whether it’s Kaffa or the architecturally-stunning Fuglen, drink coffee — and wonder whether you’ll be too spoiled to have another cup of dark roast again.

7. Denver

The Mile High City is bubbling up some of the United States’ best coffee — and so it should, according to a survey that ranks Denver fourth in the nation when it comes to coffee consumption. The beans are local, the baristas are skilled, and demand is high. Novo coffee has emerged as a specialty coffee leader in the city.

One of the veteran roasters of the city, and renowned nationwide for its bright roasts, Novo recently expanded beyond its warehouse near Coors Field to open hip cafes downtown. But this city is not short on acclaimed roasters and cafes that are well-established outside of Novo’s shadow: Roast Magazine named Denver native Coda Coffee Co. the best roaster of the year in 2014. Some say the quality of Colorado coffee is due to the arid, high-altitude climate — a certain Rocky Mountain terroir. And with the Highlands and River North sprouting so many microroasters and shops — complete with high-quality beans and award-winning baristas — with cultish followings, Denver postures itself as a must-see, must-sip coffee city.

8. Paris

Paris, usually along with Rome, lands itself on lists of “Cities that are supposed to have good coffee because cafe culture is important but their coffee is really bleh at best.” While most Parisian cafes are still more about the ambiance — the wicker chairs adjusted to face the street, the conversation, the occasional cigarette — than what’s in your cup, third wave coffee shops are flourishing in the City of Lights. With cafes like Spyglass, Télescope, Coutume Café, and Ten Belles sprouting up on both sides of the Seine, coffee that tastes good too has finally made it to Paris.

9. Moscow

The rise of coffee culture in Moscow has been slow, but the last several years have seen a country all but bereft of a good brew breeding stellar, although sometimes expensive, coffee shops. Some say that Coffee Mania, a place as known for its coffee as for its clientele, is an experience, above all else — the beautiful and moneyed hang here, sipping on coffees and the sweets that accompany. But what Moscow has long been lacking are third wave cafes, a hole now partially filled by the Black Coffee Cooperative, which focuses on brewing with Aeropress and V60, and Traveler’s Coffee. The Russian café experience is slow, the patrons expected to stay a while instead of pounding caffeine on the way to somewhere else.

10. Bangkok

Thailand is not the first-to-mind when considering which Asian capitals serve up the best cups of coffee, but the city of over 6 million, which welcomes more tourists than almost any other city in the world, is also beginning to welcome coffee — and refine its brewing skills that rival its northern neighbor, Chiang Mai.

Roots, a boutique roaster in the capital and cousin to the café Roast (they share the same owner), trains baristas and serves as an epicenter for the growing coffee scene. Shops like Casa Lapin, Tribeca Restobar, and Rocket Coffeebar make use of these local beans and serve Bangkok’s hipsters refined cups of coffee — from acidic, watery pourovers to espresso drinks.

=While the Thai city, located in the “bean belt,” the tropical geographic region blessed with climates hospitable to growing coffee, has previously iced and sugared and creamed its coffee into barely recognizable oblivion, a more-refined coffee culture is growing rapidly: coffee rockstars, most located in Sukhumvit, include Ceresia Coffee Roasters, Kuppa, and Casa Lapin, among others.

11. Auckland

When most minds think of a good cup of coffee down under, they turn to Melbourne — the Australian city that is, ostensibly, the coffee capital of that continent. But those in the know say that Auckland also takes its coffee seriously; it’s just on a smaller island. Though Australians would disagree, Auckland may actually be the birthplace of the flat white, the delicious espresso drink born in the ‘80s whose ratios land it somewhere between a macchiato and a cappuccino.

Stops along a local coffee tour would have to include Reslau, which has been showered in accolades for its exceptional coffee since it opened in 2007. The Espresso Workshop, located at 19 Falcon Street, has an assortment of signature drinks on top of what you’d expect to see on the menu: all you have to do is specify milk or no milk. Frolic Cafe, Good One, and Queenie’s Lunchroom are also among the top cafes in the city.

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