The United States is one of the largest importers of coffee beans in the world. Such a statistic isn’t too surprising, considering that there’s a new coffee shop turning over a “We’re Open” sign everywhere we turn. However, while the U.S. is busy importing coffee, other parts of the world are busy producing it. If you’re a true coffee aficionado, you’ll want to pay a visit to one of these countries to try the world’s best coffee directly from the source.
Ethiopia is one of the biggest coffee-producing countries. Arabica coffee originated here, and the country is regarded as the birthplace of coffee. In fact, coffee ceremonies are an important part of Ethiopian culture. During these gatherings, family and friends come together to make coffee from scratch. They roast and grind the coffee beans themselves before brewing a cup, and locals and tourists are encouraged to join in the celebrations. Ethiopian coffee is considered the best in the world because it is grown at a high altitude and produces a diverse range of coffee flavors and beans.
It’s difficult to grow coffee beans on U.S. soil. But that’s not the case in Hawaii, the only U.S. state that grows coffee. The Kona Mountains on Hawaii’s Big Island have the ideal climate for growing coffee beans. Every year, the Kona District even hosts a Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. Guests learn about the history of Hawaii’s coffee culture and are invited to take part in coffee tastings. If you can’t make the festival, most of the area’s shops brew their coffee using the local beans, so you can still get a taste.
Colombia is one of the largest producers of coffee behind Ethiopia, Vietnam, and Brazil. Located along the coffee belt, an area with lush vegetation and optimal growing soils, this South American country has the ideal climate and geography for growing coffee beans. The mountainous terrain and high rainfall work together to produce some of the world’s best coffee beans. Colombia also produces 100% Arabica beans, which offer notes of sugar, fruit, and berries, creating a sweeter cup of joe. While here, visitors can venture to coffee farms to learn how coffee beans are grown and roasted for brewing.
In 2011, UNESCO named Vienna’s coffee houses an Intangible Heritage, an honor that recognizes their cultural significance to its heritage. According to tradition, locals and tourists flock to the coffee houses, where coffee is brewed. However, some consider the Vienna coffee-brewing techniques a little outdated because they don’t use the modern coffee technology we’ve grown used to. But the city has been working on improving its coffee-making techniques. Since the World Barista Championships in 2012, independent coffee shops have been opening up and, in turn, improving the quality of drinks and service.
No journey through the world’s best coffee destinations is complete without a stop in Rome. Instead of taking their coffee to-go, Romans drink at one of the many coffee shops or bars throughout the city. Locals often visit them two to three times a day. It’s also typical to relax after a meal with a cup of caffè, otherwise known as espresso. And since coffee is taken very seriously here, you will find a delicious espresso anywhere you go. Once you find a coffee shop to your liking, be sure to greet the barista with buon giorno before ordering your next cup of caffè.
Melbourne may be known for its gorgeous beaches, but coffee is also a big part of the city’s culture. There’s even an annual event called the Melbourne International Coffee Expo, as well as a Melbourne Coffee Week. To drink like a local, order the Piccolo latte. This morning beverage is made with less milk than an American latte, so the espresso is stronger with a richer flavor. No matter how you take your coffee, you’re bound to delight in something memorable in Melbourne.
Wherever you go to get your caffeine fix, don’t forget to make room for your favorite blends in your Ember Mug².