Best Places for Coffee Lovers

Coffee is part of culture. The type of coffee, the way that people drink it, and where they drink it reflect local life, heritage, and history. One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to visit cafes, order coffee, and just sit and watch. Here are some places where I would love to do just that.

8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL, UK
Over the past two centuries, the covered market at Borough, not far from London Bridge, has become one of the country’s most famous foodie spots. From Wednesday to Saturday each week hundreds of traders gather to sell homemade breads, hand-reared pork, artisan chocolate and all manner of ingredients—plus excellent coffee, fresh juices and organic wine. Plentiful samples add to the convivial vibe, and restaurants around the market’s edge provide additional sustenance for longer stops.
26 Hanbury St, Shadwell, London E1 6QR, UK
The name Nude Espresso might suggest something more racy than you find when you enter this Brick Lane coffee shop. However, if a perfect cup of coffee does it for you, then your pulse may race anyway. And not from the caffeine. Nude takes the creation of a good cup of coffee very seriously so this is the kind of shop for true connoisseurs, not those simply in need of a fix. From the website, “Obtaining the finest coffee is a labour of love. We scour the World hand selecting only the fittest, ripest green beans [...]. We grade them by eye and sort them before putting them through their paces [...]. Only then can they be tasted, blended and packaged, creating the perfect ingredient for a sublime sensory experience.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Indeed, a cup of coffee at Nude lives up to the promise of being a sublime sensory experience. Nude really stands for stripping out anything unnecessary from the process of providing a truly excellent cup of coffee, and in simplicity that satisfies, Nude Espresso truly excels.
923 SW Oak St, Portland, OR 97205, USA
Right around the corner from Powell’s Bookstore and Sizzle Pie, the vibe here is fantastic. The walls are kind of spartan, there’s a record player in the corner, and you can roam on free Internet to your heart’s content. These guys definitely know the food scene here and have great tips. My iced chai latte? Served in a mason jar. Yum and Yum. And those caneles, pictured? They were featured in Portland Monthly. I believe Courier is following the ice cube trend with one big block of ice in either a square or rectangle. I also love the everyday musings on their blog.
12 Rue Perrée, 75003 Paris, France
The limited-edition Nikes and kiosk of independent magazines (Corpus, Out of Order, System) at this brilliantly edited multibrand boutique in the upper Marais recall the city’s renowned concept shop Colette. But its abundant natural light, and market-fresh, Scandinavian-influenced café make it a place of its own. Minimalist, rustic decor and sparsely furnished racks reinforce a feeling of calm. An in-house florist is in the works. 12 Rue Perrée, 33/(0) 1-44-61- 53-60. This appeared in the October 2013 issue.
Piazza della Repubblica, 6, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Paszkowski’s historic interior was originally founded in 1848 in what is now Piazza della Repubblica in the center of Florence. A great place to stop for a hot chocolate, espresso, or one of the cafe’s beautiful sweet treats, Paszkowski not only reflects the city’s history but also is a place where fancy locals still gather.
Via Roma, 1r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Piazza della Repubblica in central Florence has three of the city’s most historic cafes. Gilli is one of them, and when you walk in, you feel like you are entering a piece of the city’s history. The cafe was founded in 1733 but moved to its current location in the early 1900s, when it became a favorite place for artists and intellectuals. It is beautiful and grand, but there are enough local people hanging out there to make you feel like you are still experiencing a piece of modern Florence. The cafe serves excellent cappuccinos, pastries, and sweets, as well as whiskey and wine. When the weather is nice, you can sit outside and watch the people in the square.
325 Cambie St
If you’re a coffee nerd, Revolver is the place to go for personal-size, pour-over coffees brewed from their unique lines of beans. Hang out for a while and you’ll run into everyone who lives at this end of Gastown. (604) 558-4444. As told to Rhonda May. This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.
More From AFAR