Last Updated Date: 10/20/2019
There are a lot of coffee shops around the world, but most people who know us know we’re serious about our specialty / single-origin coffee. Here we’ll be maintaining a map and a list of our favorite coffee shops from the places we’ve been.
This won’t be a list of every place we’ve had coffee as that would be massive and frankly a waste of time. Instead, this will be a list of the coffee places we liked, would enjoy going back to, and would recommend to others.
Also, in case you’re curious about our coffee setup on the trip:
If you’d like to have this list conveniently available in Google Maps, here’s the link.
Coava Coffee Roasters - San Diego, California
Coava is where we discovered what excellent coffee was supposed to be. The excellent selection of coffeee, staff, and weekly coffee cupping (tasting) sessions made it a phenomenal starting point for us. Coava is definitely our benchmark, and one that is rarely replicated. It’s one of the things we miss most about San Diego (though it should be noted that Coava originates from Portland, Oregon and has a few locations there as well).
LAB New American Cuisine & Coffee Shop - Buenos Aires, Argentina
LAB feels like a shop that was transported from the Bay Area to Argentina. However, they had some of the best coffee selection in Buenos Aires. This was our typical go-to spot for coffee during our time in Argentina. They offered pour over utilising a variety of methods: Kalita Wave, V60, Aeropress, etc. Also, their food is incrediby fresh, healthy, and tasty. They have two locations: one in Belgrano and one in Palermo. If it’s the same to you, definitely go to the one in Belgrano as it’s much larger and provides a bigger menu.
Big Rabbit - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Big Rabbit has a surprisingly good selection of pour over. It’s clear that the clientelle there are far more interested in the food and espresso-based drinks, so the baristas were very excited when we showed up and asked for filtered coffee. We had long discussions about methods, varieties, and flavors, and the attention we received there was excellent. They had coffees from all over South America including a Washed-Process Colombian Geisha, a Honey-Process Pacamara variety, and some other Natural-Process coffees as well.
ÖSS Kaffe - Buenos Aires, Argentina
ÖSS Kaffe feels like Cheers if Cheers were a coffee shop. The owner, Fernando, is always working the counter- which makes sense considering the shop is in his garage. He has about as short of a commute to work as anyone can have. He’s very enthusiastic about his coffee, and his selection is great. He also offers fantastic sourdough toast with olive oil and salt. However, as great as the coffee and toast is, the real reason to go is to hang out, relax, and chat with Fernando and the other clientelle.
Colonia Sandwich Coffee Shop - Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
Colonia Sandwich Coffee Shop was an unexpected find. The owners, Ezequiel and Laura, are incredibly friendly, and Ezequiel was nice enough to leave one of their locations (a stall) to go make us a pour over at their other location (a small shop). They started the shop as a way to offer healthy sandwiches in a city that has next-to-nothing in the way of reasonably healthy food. They later began offering specialty coffee, which they developed a taste for while living in Australia and New Zealand. Ezequiel even made us some Colombian Geisha that wasn’t a retail product- just part of a special batch he’d been sent as a gift from one of his suppliers.
Café Black Mamba - Santiago, Chile
Café Black Mamba offers a rare combination of top-notch specialty coffee and excellent food. It’s far more typical to find places that do both just fine, or excel in one while suffering in the other. Black Mamba’s pour over was incredible, as was their Sandwich Mechada (pulled beef, avocado, and house ketchup). Their coffee is carefully sourced and selected, and each pour over comes with information about the varietal, region, elevation, tasting notes, etc.
Tallercafé Valpo - Valparaíso, Chile
Tallercafé was conveniently located across the street from our Airbnb. These guys are VERY serious about their coffee: they have an espresso machine repair service, they compete in barista competitions around the world, and offer coffee education. We spoke with the guys here for a long time, and they had plenty to recommend and offer as far as tasting went. In our opinion there are two reasons to go to Valparaíso: views of the city and Tallercafé.
Formative Coffee - London, UK (England)
You can tell how serious Formative is about coffee by this rant on their website. After flying red-eye from Argentina to London, it was where we attempted to make ourselves semi-functional. The staff was friendly and helpful, and their flat white was particularly good. We got a coffee flight as well which included a shot of espresso, a macchiato, and a cup of batch brew filtered coffee. Disappointingly batch brew was the only filtered coffee available, there weren’t any pour over options. However, the flat white is good enough that it’s worth stopping by if you’re near Victoria Station.
Mei Leaf Teahouse - London, UK (England)
So Mei Leaf doesn’t actually offer any coffee… BUT they’re a fantastic teahouse and well worth a visit. I’ve been following them (and buying tea and teaware from them) for years, and they’re very serious about quality and well sourced tea. Go there for some gong fu tea, you won’t regret it.
The Little Bird Coffee House - Inverness, UK (Scotland)
Unfortunately the week we happened to visit Little Bird was also the last week it would be open 😭. The owner, Jason, told us that he would be forced to move to a new location if he wanted to stay open, but ultimately decided to shut down for now. He’s very enthusiastic about quality coffee (somewhat of a rarity in Scotland), and made us some truly excellent pour over. We’re glad we got to visit when we did, as it was a fantastic experience. Also, Jason was the one who recommended our next pick, Habitat Cafe…
Habitat Cafe - Aberfeldy, UK (Scotland)
Aberfeldy is a town with a population of ~1800 residents, I did not expect to find great coffee here. However, Habitat Cafe defied expectations. The coffee was excellent and the sandwiches were really good. The ambiance was nice and relaxed, and Mike, the owner, was very friendly. He stopped to chat with us about coffee and despite having discontinued pour over at the cafe due to staffing issues he took the time to make us some anyways. Hanging out with Mike as well as some of the clients at Habitat ended up being one of our highlights in Scotland. (One of the clients told us about how she motorcycled solo through Africa seven years ago- it was a crazy story!)
Café Tacuba - Lucerne, Switzerland
Switzerland has been a bit of a desert in terms of good coffee. The coffee culture in Switzerland is unfortunately still very second-wave Italian in terms of options and tastes. This means that coffee tends to be overroasted, stale, and bitter. Manolo at Café Tacuba is looking to change that. He moved to Switzerland from El Salvador and opened Café Tacuba three years ago. He sources all his coffee directly from El Salvador (much from his own family’s coffee farm), and his offerings are fantastic (and highly affordable). We had a great Natural-Process Bourbon variety on V60, and proceeded to buy 500g of a Honey-Process Bourbon variety to take with us as we continue on our journey.
Caffè River - Arezzo, Italy
So technically Caffe River isn’t a coffee shop at all- they’re a coffee roaster. We reached out because we were staying in Arezzo and were hoping to find recommendations for coffee shops where we might find specialty coffee and pour over. Marco responded explaining that pour over culture in Italy is mostly non-existent, but that they’d be happy to invite us to their facility for a tour of the roastery as well as the opportunity to roast some of our own. We’d never seen a roastery before, and we’ve certainly not had the chance to roast our own coffee, so of course we accepted! Everyone (shoutouts to Marco, Elisabetta, and Daniele!) at Caffe River was friendly, knowledgable, and loved coffee. The tour was great, and incredibly interesting to us as enthusiasts. Also, they were nice enough to roast three of their coffees with us in their Ikawa Pro Roaster for us to take with us. We had a phenomenal time and visiting Caffe River was easily one of the highlights of our experiences in Italy. We’ll be writing about our experience at Caffe River more in a separate blog post that will be linked to here when completed.
Faro - Luminari del Caffè - Rome, Italy
As mentioned before, Italy is somewhat of a dead zone for third wave specialty coffee. However, there’s a burgeoning movement in some of Italy’s largest cities. Faro (which means lighthouse in Italian) was one we’d found online when searching for specialy coffee in Rome. We were pleasantly surprised to find a shop that roasted their own coffee and offered it as a pour over (with a few options for brewing method). We tried a natural Ethiopian and a washed Kenyan on V60, both of which were quite tasty. We also enjoyed a great flat white (which as far as we could tell, wasn’t listed on their menu). Our barista chatted with us a bit and mentioned a couple other coffee shops in Rome worth checking out, which brings us to…
Pergamino Caffè - Rome, Italy
Pergamino was recommended to us by the barista at Faro. Pergamino is a small, trendy coffee shop near the Vatican. Our barista, Julia (Giulia?), was very friendly and helpful. We spoke a bit about the tiny but growing third wave movement in Italy. She made us a great V60 pour over using a washed Kenyan, as well as a flat white. Pergamino doesn’t roast their own coffee as far as we can tell, but stocks specialty coffees from the other quality roasters in Italy as well as from a couple others in Europe (such as Nomad Roasters in Barcelona). Julia explained that most of their Italian customers come in for a simple espresso, and it’s mostly tourists ordering pour over, though a few curious Italians have on occasion ordered one. It was a welcome refreshment after fighting our way through the nearby Vatican to see the Sistine Chapel.