Every morning I struggle to wake up – the warmth of the comforter pulling me back into its clutches – with only the aromatic pleasures of coffee able to convince my sleeping-self to break free from the attractive confines of my bed. Unknown to me until fairly recently though, coffee brewing is far more involved than just scooping heaps of pre-ground powder into a filter, hitting the button, and waiting. In fact, the coffee industry has developed far beyond its humble roots, into a massively specialized field of innovation. Ask any decent barista at your favorite local spot, and very quickly you will realize the range of specialized growing, buying, and brewing methods that populate today’s coffee marketplace.
From the verdant mountain slopes and lush jungle valleys where Arabica and Robusta Coffee originate, to the comfortable roasteries and café’s of your local metropolis, purveyors of specialty coffee are working hard to build strong relationships throughout the supply chain. A more transparent marketplace ushers in an era of highly specialized coffee varietals, available to nearly everyone, allowing us all to experience the deep complexities of coffee like never before. And just as the tempting aromas of my morning cappuccino draws me out of my house each morning, you can begin each day of your vacation with a cup from one, or all, of these incredible specialty coffee destinations.
Melbourne – Patricia Coffee Brewers
Tucked away in the sprawling grid of Melbourne’s downtown lies Patricia Coffee Brewers, a quality-driven coffee shop focused on the proliferation of specialty coffee and the highest quality of customer service. Upon entry, customers are greeted by a ceiling mounted neon sign reading “sunshine” and a tiled entryway stating “standing room only,” forging a pitch-perfect contrast of hole-in-the-wall charm, and contemporary Euro stylings. Patricia’s has quickly become a front runner in specialty coffee, perfect for the discerning coffee drinker. The menu consists of 3 offerings, Black, White, and Filter, all delicately roasted and served by highly trained baristas. The simplicity of the menu may at first seem restrictive, but savvy coffee lovers will appreciate the cunning complexity which lies beneath the surface. The absence of more traditional coffee confections allows the intricacies and distinctly aromatic flavors of each of the carefully selected coffee bean varietals to thrill patrons. At Patricia’s an incredible amount of care is taken in selecting the various coffee varieties they serve and this attention to detail is evident in the strong relationship this shop has forged with the selective coffee roasters who allow Patricia’s to re-package and brand their beans for resale.
Paris – Télescope
Before the advent of smart phones, WiFi, macbooks, and the like, café’s where a bastion of conversation and thoughtful exchange, a forum for people of all backgrounds to share their stories over a freshly brewed cup. Télescope, a herald of times past, doesn’t provide WiFi in store, a bold move that has been successful in recreating the romantic café culture of old. The embodiment of the contemporary specialty coffee approach, Télescope has become the standard for what makes a good café, a good café. Télescope’s deceivingly simple menu, similar to that of Patricia’s in Melbourne, is not to be mistaken for a limited assortment of offerings. Despite the menu size, Télescope’s incredible selection of coffee bean varietals will suit the adventurous, curious drinker. There may only be 6 “drinks,” but when combined with the many different beans available, the menu’s options expand infinitely, testing the limits of your imagination. The intense care and precision taken in roasting and brewing coffee at Télescope, coupled with the venue’s Parisian culinary sensibilities, makes it a must-visit café for the discerning coffee drinker.
Oslo – Tim Wendelboe
Founded by a World Barista Champion by the same name, Tim Wendelboe’s espresso bar and micro-roastery in Oslo, is a leader in the trend toward transparency in the coffee industry. Widely known within specialty coffee circles as an innovator, Tim Wendelboe showcases a diverse selection of coffee, hand selected by the owner himself from farms across the world. Rather than blending coffees together into a homogenous product, Tim Wendelboe specializes in providing a wide selection of individual strains, each with their own unique flavor nuances. Meticulously roasted and cupped, the presentation here is paramount, delicately prepared for an unmatched visual and aromatic experience. Part of the allure here comes from the incredibly modern and attractive minimalist design aesthetic gracing the café’s interior. Hardwood panels form the espresso bar, the rich caramel tones of the hardwood revealed by layers of soft incandescence offered by suspended spherical lamps. The interior of Tim Wendelboe’s offers patrons an unmatched feeling of peacefulness and warmth.
London – Milk Bar
Despite its cultural propensity towards tea, The UK has a surprising amount of fabulous cafés and baristas, providing citizens and tourists alike with a tempting variety of specialty coffees. Among these London’s Milk Bar, a small café tucked away in the culturally rich district of Soho, stands out. With a wider variety of food and coffee offerings than most specialty shops, Milk Bar caters to more than just coffee connoisseurs. Where the absence of variety usually lends itself to higher quality, Milk Bar pulls out all the stops – providing a great selection of all-day breakfast foods, freshly baked cakes, and a bespoke espresso blend – without suffering any degradation of culinary mastery. In terms of environment, Milk Bar keeps it interesting, with an ever-changing design theme. On a semi-annual schedule, the entire interior of Milk Bar will be redesigned, re-painted and redecorated with stunning new artwork – a tradition which maintains a fresh and visually stimulating environment for regular customers and int ernational guests.
These 4 awe-inspiring cafés are just the beginning, an opening paragraph in the long chapter of delicious innovation that has graced – and will continue to grace – the coffee world for centuries to come. No longer is coffee just a morning stimuli, but rather an entry point into a world of complex flavors and aromas begging to be discovered, shared, and enjoyed. Whether you are planning your day on the balcony of your hotel in London, or strolling the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, I invite you to let the rich sensory stimulus of specialty coffee transport you, even if for just a moment, to the viridian hills, vibrant jungles, and vast mountain valleys that coffee plants call home.