Expert baristas have transformed coffee into an art form and global obsession in recent years. On your next trip, skip the mass-market chains and enjoy a truly transformative cuppa at one of these standout spots. Some are historic classics, while others using cutting-edge technology to create the perfect brew.
Bar Italia, London
Ever since it opened its doors in 1949, this buzzy café has been an iconic piece of Soho. Lou and Caterina Polledri, from Piacenza, originally wanted the place to represent a little piece of their homeland. On days when a football match is on and the Italian expat community swarms the joint for cappuccinos and camaraderie, Bar Italia certainly feels like it.
Giang Café, Hanoi
The idea of putting raw egg in coffee might sound repugnant to some, but this indulgent Hanoi speciality is surprisingly delightful. The family-run Giang Café first welcomed customers in 1946 and hasn’t changed its beloved recipe much since then. Sip on a sweet cup made with Vietnamese coffee powder, golden yolks, condensed milk, cheese, and butter and savour a piece of history.
Fazil Bey, Istanbul
Traditional Turkish coffee is bracingly bitter, subtly sweet, and anchored by the mud-black sediment at the bottom of the cup. Drinking it is a ritual essential to daily life in Istanbul. While virtually every restaurant in the capital will pour you a cup, no one does it better than this local institution near the Kadıköy Bazaar.
The Writer’s Coffee, La Paz
The Bolivian capital’s bohemian vibes are on full display at this cosmopolitan café inside a bookshop. Expert baristas at TheWriter’s Coffee serve up perfect pour-overs and lattes. Since everything is fair trade and locally sourced, you can feel good about contributing to the local community while enjoying your drink.
Confeitaria Colombo, Rio de Janeiro
This 125-year-old café is worth a visit for its gorgeously decorated, mirrored interior alone. Originally founded by Portuguese immigrants, Confeitaria Colombo marries lavish Baroque and Art Nouveau architectural styles popular in the high-society coffee shops in Europe at the height of the Belle Epoque.
Café De L’ambre (Shimbashi), Tokyo
In recent years, sophisticated third-wave coffee shops have sprung up all over Tokyo. Nevertheless, well-heeled shoppers in ritzy Ginza prefer this tried-and-true classic dating back to 1948 to its trendier counterparts. With only 15 seats, there tends to be a line, but this transcendent brew is worth the wait.
The Coffee Academics, Hong Kong
With branches in Hong Kong, Thailand, China, and Singapore, The Coffee Academics aims to elevate the art of caffeine through its incredibly detailed, scientific approach. Jennifer Liu launched the concept in Causeway Bay in 2010 with the intention to source some of the best beans in the world. Legions of fans all over Asia are a testament to her success.
Dreamy Camera Cafe, Yangpyeong, South Korea
Expect hordes of aspiring Instagram influencers at this bizarre café designed to resemble an antique camera. The theme persists over two stories, which contain dozens of pieces of vintage photographic equipment and a gallery.
Bar Luce, Milan
If you’ve ever dreamed of being in a Wes Anderson film, Bar Luce might be your best chance. The director lovingly designed every detail of this café in the Fondazione Prada in his famously quirky style. One can easily imagine Margot Tenenbaum stopping by for a French press.
Tim Wendelboe, Oslo
Decked out in impeccably minimalist Nordic fashion, this award-winning espresso bar, roastery, and barista school is a true haven for coffee geeks. Tim Wendelboe has a public fondness for the Aeropress and has been a passionate advocate for more equitable practices within the industry.