Caffeine capitals: Top 5 cities for coffee

We all know, not all coffee is created equal. Here Mark Juddery reveals the cities that serve a cup of caffeine goodness best.

First, let’s be clear: New York does not belong on this list.

True, it has many world-class coffee places, if you know where to look, but a typical New York coffee is cheap and nasty.

The best coffee cities are the ones where you can walk into any coffee shop (within reason) and expect quality. Consider the following….

5. Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam has plenty of cafés, in which you make yourself comfortable on a tiny plastic stool and enjoy the local style of coffee: strong and still filtering, perhaps with a base of super-sweet, condensed milk, so thick that you need to stir it vigorously to mix in the coffee.

Locals wouldn’t have it otherwise, and you can see their point. The most expensive blend is the notorious weasel coffee, but some cafés in HCMC now have machines that mimic the effect of weasel digestion.

The result is a wonderfully smooth coffee – cleaner, cheaper, safely vegetarian, and more appealing for timid drinkers.

4. Istanbul

In the region of the world that discovered coffee, the bean is so essential that it is believed a woman, whatever her charms, will traditionally never find a husband unless she can make an excellent Turkish coffee.

One cup can have you bouncing off walls. You have possibly tried it in restaurants, but it is best enjoyed in one of Istanbul’s colourful and aromatic coffee houses.

3. Vienna

Vienna is renowned for its coffee houses. Many are justifiably famous places, which attracted creative geniuses and great thinkers from Mozart to Freud.

They still have old-fashioned charm, splendid cake displays, and impeccable waiters dressed in dinner suits.

Nonetheless, some coffee-lovers complain that Vienna hasn’t moved with the times, unlike…

2. Tokyo

In the world’s most exciting and innovative coffee city, you can visit exclusive coffee bars to watch baristas spend 20 minutes making you an intricate, complex cup of coffee, using equipment that resembles a science lab – and with such precision, that’s basically what it is.

1. Naples

Italians are famously raised to be coffee connoisseurs.

A Sydney-based Italian friend, who has tried coffee around the world, boldly suggests that the world’s best coffee city is… Melbourne (followed, kindly enough, by Sydney).

In Italy itself, however, none can beat Naples for a (very) strong espresso on the piazza. Addictive – and dangerously so. (Ten espressi in one day has proven fatal.)

Quite simply, one of those ‘must-have’ life experiences.


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This article appeared in issue 5


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