Coffee is a must for many people, especially university students. As a barista, and self-professed coffee aficionado, my first stop in a new destination is a café, to sample the local staple and get a feel for the coffee culture of the area. Cafés are the perfect place to sit and sort through thousands of travel photos, plan your next destination or just have a breather from the intense schedule of sightseeing. A trip to a local café is a great way for getting a feel of the lifestyle in your location, and seeing how the locals live, even if it’s just in their coffee break.
Vietnam has a reputation for interesting coffee concoctions and I can certainly say it doesn’t disappoint! In the north around the capital of Hanoi, locals favour egg coffee, a dessert-like beverage made with whipped egg whites and condensed milk, with a raw meringue-like texture. It’s the perfect treat, and you can even eat it with a spoon! While in Hanoi our local tour guide sent us to Radio Coffee, Hong Ngoc Tonkin, a little café above a record store in a small side street. While tricky to find, this spot did not disappoint, and was the best egg coffee I tried in the city.
Further south, coconut coffee is the preferred choice, and is equally delicious! Served hot or iced, it is made with blended coconut milk, which includes the flesh and has an interesting texture. Sometimes served with coconut ice cream floating on top, this drink is also vegan, which is always a bonus.
East Coast Australia
Although it would be nice to narrow it down to a city, every coffee I tasted on the East Coast was equally carefully crafted. Australians take coffee culture very seriously, and the art of coffee is respected at all costs. As I was well-informed, coffee culture is a massive part of daily life on the East Coast, and coffee breaks are a sacred time to catch up with co-workers, friends, or yourself and a good book. And given the favourable climate of the region, most coffee blends are grown and roasted locally, meaning their carbon footprint is minimal, and can be enjoyed with less guilt.
Italy, the spiritual home of the expresso and the origin of the world’s coffee language. While some see Italy’s fixation on their coffee ‘rules’ as too particular, Italians are very proud of their dedication to the cause. Important factors to consider here include the thickness of the cup used, the type of china, and, obviously, the quality of the expresso. While some tourists are perturbed by the stares they get from locals if they’re spotted drinking a cappuccino after 11am, I think their dedication is admirable. And the taste is too.
Not historically renowned for its coffee, Malaysia has an emerging coffee culture, and in my opinion it’s one to watch. According to experts, Malaysia has begun its third wave of coffee, and visitors can certainly concur. George Town in particular is brimming with new speciality cafés serving anything from the purest cold-drip to latte art resembling cute animals, and so in this emerging coffee culture, there’s something for everyone.
This may be unexpected, but I think Norwich deserves a spot on the list. The city has a strong independent culture, which definitely includes its cafés. With roasteries such as Strangers and Grumpy Mule based in the area, Norwich’s coffee is proud to be local. And maybe it can’t beat Australia and Vietnam’s locally grown coffee, but the short bus ride into town can excuse this minor detail. With an abundance of independent cafés to choose from, all taking pride in their quality, none of us really have any excuse to go to the high street chains anymore.