For many of us, coffee is more than just a drink. It's the life blood that wakes us up, gives us the energy to get dressed in the morning, and make it to work each day. Without it, our mornings (and afternoons) would be a lot slower, our minds a lot foggier, and our ideas, probably, a lot duller. Let's face it, coffee is the best drug of all. It's legal, does magical things, and is fully maintainable on a daily, or even twice daily (3x?) level.
So if you're a coffee aficionado like we are and you'd like to experience the way the rest of the world consumes this incredible drink, then read on. See how local cultures, climate, and economies impact the world's best brews and get inspired to get out there and experience it for yourself!
Secret Coffee Tasting in Hanoi, Vietnam
Although not many people are aware, Vietnam is the second largest exporter of coffee in the world. The Vietnamese have a serious love for the stuff and, since the French colonization, have come up with an array of different ways to drink it. From traditional Vietnamese coffee, made using a slow drip filter unique to the region then adding condensed milk, to the Hanoian cappuccino in the northern capital.
On this secret coffee experience in Hanoi, you'll visit an old French mansion for a coffee tasting that includes a secret ingredient, before sipping an original Hanoian cappuccino, followed by a trip to a hidden cafe in an old military dormitory and ending with a sampling of dessert style coffees.
Visit a Local Coffee Cooperative in Antigua, Guatemala
We originally met the De La Gente Coffee team in front of a yellow Colonial era church in the small Guatemalan town of San Miguel Cristobal, just outside of Antigua. The De La Gente team has brought together a number of Guatemalan coffee farmers into a local collective, providing micro-loans for the purchase of plants and equipment, opportunities to better market and sell their coffee, and additional support, including the incorporation of community-based tourism.
Lead by a small-holder coffee farmer, De La Gente’s immersive coffee experience allows you to experience a day in the life of a Guatemalan coffee farmer. This authentic experience includes a short hike up the side of a volcano to see the coffee fields and learn about the growing process, followed by a visit to the farmer’s house to learn the importance of each step of the process and get hands-on with the “pulpero,” a machine that removes the external pulp from the coffee seeds, before roasting the coffee in the traditional Guatemalan way, over the fire in the farmer’s kitchen. The additional revenue these farmers earn from tourism enables them and their families to invest in education for their children, healthcare, housing, and nutrition.
Read more about the De La Gente coffee cooperative in our full story, Farm to Table with De La Gente Coffee.
Learn to be a Barista in Florence, Italy
One of the most magical moments any traveler can experience while in Italy is the impossibly perfect crema of a well pulled espresso and the exquisite foam of an expertly crafted cappuccino. Instead of just drinking Italy’s incredible coffee, learn to craft it yourself at Florence’s Espresso Academy. Offering a breadth of barista courses in a traditional Italian roasting company, you’ll uncover the secrets of roasting and blending, milk frothing, latte art, and even machine maintenance. From learning how to roast different profiles, to the various brewing techniques, to the history, technology, and attention to detail required of the classic Italian barista, you'll learn the art and skill of executing perfect espresso and cappuccino. Italian Barista school is the perfect blend of authentic experience and learning in travel.
Stay at a Coffee Finca in Zona Cafetera, Colombia
Per square mile, Colombia is the most bio-diverse country in the world, so it’s no surprise the country produces some of the world’s best coffee. As Colombia gained political stability and has become increasingly safe to travel, opportunities to visit, stay, and support the local coffee “fincas” (estates) have blossomed. One of the biggest, oldest, and best fincas in Northern Colombia is La Victoria and its on-site property, Casas Viejas Minca, about an hour from the coastal city of Santa Marta. Staying on the farm, and experiencing what it takes to produce some of the world’s best coffee first-hand, is a truly unique experience. Guided tours explain the history and operation of the farm and the products that are grown there. That, along with the renovated rooms at the farm’s nearby jungle lodge, are an excellent way to experience an in-depth taste for this incredible region and one of its most important products.
If you want an experience closer to the major cities of Bogota and Medellin, Hacienda Venecia is a great alternative. Located in Zona Cafetera, the heart of Colombia’s coffee growing region, the finca offers coffee tours and workshops, along with numerous other activities all while staying in their rustic and renovated coffee lodge.
Coffee Tasting that Gives Back in Vancouver, Canada
East Van Roasters has some of the best “bean-to-bar” coffee and chocolate we’ve ever tasted. They make organic chocolate in-house, as well as a bevy of delicious espresso drinks. But it’s the cafe’s story that truly deepens the experience. Working with the nearby Rainier Hotel, East Van Roasters is a social enterprise that provides employment and training to marginalized women in East Vancouver. So, when you’re visiting the great city of Vancouver, come to East Van Roasters where you can experience a coffee & chocolate tasting while also giving back to the community.
Read more about East Van Roasters in our Weekend Guide to Vancouver.
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