Addis Ababa | Ethiopia
Where better to start than the place where, legend has it, coffee was invented.
It goes back to the Ethiopian goat herder Kaldi, who discovered that his goats were becoming more energetic after eating berries from a particular tree. He showed these berries to the local monastery, who brewed a drink that kept them alert for hours. Word travelled fast, and these beans were in the reusable cups of yawny commuters in no time.
Addis Ababa's probably the best place to sample Ethiopia's diverse coffee varieties. It boasts plenty of cafés where you can try both traditional and modern speciality coffee and local markets where you can find beans and coffee-making equipment. You could also tour nearby coffee farms to learn about the production process, or take part in a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. The ceremony involves roasting green coffee beans, grinding them, and brewing the coffee in front of guests – it's as much about engaging with the community and embracing their culture as it is about drinking delicious coffee.
At 154th place, Ethiopia scores poorly on the Good Trip Index – our guide for travelling ethically, sustainably and well. It's one of the worst performers for LGBTQ+ travel and doesn't fare much better for press freedom, human freedom or women travellers. Turkey and Indonesia don't perform too well either – if you'd prefer to drink your coffee somewhere that scores higher, there are plenty of options below.
The Holiday Extras Good Trip Index
The Holiday Extras guide to travelling ethically, sustainably and well in 2023.Have a good trip
The world has Italy to thank for the way most of us understand coffee. It gave us the language (latte, cappuccino, espresso) and the espresso machines found in pretty much any coffee shop you walk into, as well as Lavazza, Illy and many other stylish brands.
Italian coffee is all about simplicity and tradition. Don't expect your cappuccino to come with syrups, latte art and in multiple sizes – it'll be in a 180ml cup, warm but not boiling and sweet enough to balance the bittersweet espresso. A sprinkling of chocolate is fine if you want to be fancy. And while Italians drink coffee all day long, cappuccinos are a morning drink. By all means have one after 11am if you really want to, but we'd stick to espressos and americanos to avoid looking like obvious tourists.
You won't see many disposable cups, as takeaway coffee isn't much of a thing. If you're in a rush, order a caffè (single shot of espresso) standing at the bar with locals and drink it quickly before the crema disappears.
Where in Italy is the best place to drink coffee? We won't answer that at the risk of causing untold outrage. But luckily the coffee is consistently brilliant wherever you go, so there are plenty of contenders.
Italy Travel Guide
Italy is a country steeped in ancient history and culture. With bustling cities and a stunning coastline, you'll be hard pressed to choose just one place to visit.Find out more...
Seattle | USA
Seattle's often seen as the birthplace of the specialty coffee movement in the United States. The city's coffee history can be traced back to the 1970s, when Starbucks was founded in Pike Place Market.
Starbucks took Seattle coffee global, and the original coffee shop is a popular tourist attraction with a long line worth waiting in. But the city has embraced independent cafés and innovative brewing methods in equal measure. Delicious lattes, single-origin pours and cold brews served by expert baristas can be found on every corner.
USA Travel Guide
Whether national parks, monuments or one of its 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites are your thing, you're guaranteed a memorable trip to the USA.Find out more...
Melbourne | Australia
It's near impossible to find a bad cup of coffee in Melbourne. Coffee's a major part of the lifestyle, with thousands of coffee shops and cafés all over the city serving up world-beating brunches and speciality beans to match.
This city's love affair with coffee dates back to the end of WWII when Italian and Greek immigrants brought along their espresso machines. Since then, Melbourne has fully embraced the third-wave coffee movement which focuses on high quality throughout the whole coffee-making journey. Big chains are hard to find – independent coffee spots run by passionate baristas are everywhere, with many serving up their own unique roast.
Many believe the flat white was invented in Australia (although New Zealanders might argue otherwise), so if you're heading to Melbourne it's definitely worth grabbing a cup or two. But don't stop there – there are cold drips, pour-overs and other innovative brews to wake you up too.
Melbourne Travel Guide
Find out what makes Melbourne the cultural capital of Australia. Here's a hint: street art, history and an energetic nightlife.Find out more...
Vienna | Austria
Vienna's home to some of the world's oldest and most iconic coffee houses. Its coffee house culture is on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list, so it had to be on ours too.
Vienna's love affair with coffee dates back to the 17th century during the Turkish invasion of the city, and really started to boom in the late 19th and 20th century when it was the capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The city was a cultural melting pot, with intellectuals, artists and everyone in between meeting for hours on end in grand coffee houses for the price of a coffee to set the world to rights. You'll still find marble tables, intricate interior designs, newspapers and even live classical music in many of the coffee houses today.
Viennese coffee is very unique. Specialities include the Wiener Melange, similar to a cappuccino with whipped cream, and Einspänner, which is more like a black coffee with whipped cream.
Havana | Cuba
Cuba has a strong coffee tradition, and Havana's the pick of the bunch for where to drink it thanks to the abundance of charming cafés and coffee stands that line its vibrant streets.
Coffee's a part of life in Cuba. The most popular one you need to try is the Cafecito, also known as Café Cubano, which is a strong shot of espresso sweetened with sugar. Coffee drinking is a social affair, with locals gathering to chat, play dominoes and take in the lively atmosphere. A colada is the perfect drink for the occasion – it's served in a Styrofoam cup with lots of small demitasses meant to share with friends.
Istanbul | Turkey
You need to try Turkish coffee. It's made by finely grinding coffee beans and brewing them in a special pot called a cezve. It's then served in small cups – the grounds settle to the bottom, which form patterns at the bottom that are used to tell fortunes. With rich, earthy flavours and sweetened with a bit of sugar, it pairs perfectly with a Turkish delight.
It doesn't get much better than Istanbul for sampling Turkish coffee. It's full of historic coffee houses – Kiva Han claims to be the world's first – and you'll find freshly roasted beans in the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar.
Turkey Travel Guide
Whether it's a city break, a family getaway or a laze on the beach you fancy, Turkey is a great place to visit all year round.Find out more...
Bali | Indonesia
Bali is home to some of Indonesia's most distinct coffee varieties, and Bali Kintamani is the one to look out for. Coffee beans in Indonesia are grown together with vegetables, orange trees and other plants, and Bali Kintamani uniquely uses wet processing to separate the fruit from the beans. This results in bright, citrussy coffee that goes down a treat in Bali's scenic cafés and plantations.
Kopi Tubruk is the traditional way to prepare Indonesian coffee. Hot water is poured over fine coffee grounds, usually with a lump of sugar and without any filtration. Expect a strong, sweet coffee that shows off the unique fruity flavour of the local coffee.