Finding a great spot to sit down, relax, unwind, catch up and plan our next adventure is something we look forward to when we arrive in a new place. It can be pretty intense trying to work out a location having just arrived after a twelve hour bus ride in 30°C heat and carrying your backpacks.
It’s important to take a moment and find a place to relax, soak up the vibe and think about the next move. People watching is one of our favourite activities while traveling and sitting down gives you time to look out for those characters you might otherwise miss. Ordering something at a coffee shop can help you feel more comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. You’ll be surrounded by locals and that grounding constant of a good brew is relaxing.
Some of these places were researched before arriving and some were found by chance. So, without further ado, here are five of our favourite coffee experiences so far.
*Disclaimer: Nic doesn’t actually enjoy coffee but in these places we both ordered drinks and enjoyed the experience. Chances are if somewhere does great coffee there will be a selection of equally excellent non-coffee based drinks.
Ya Kun Kaya Toast, 18 China Street, Singapore. This is the original YKKT Kopitiam (coffee shop) in Singapore and in our opinion, the best. We found this originally in Lonely Planet and headed there during our stopover in Singapore. It was so delicious we made sure to return there on our longer Singapore stay. Friendly yet no nonsense service. Grab a seat outside and you’ll be handed set menus. The breakfast of runny egg (make sure you add soy sauce and pepper) with a stack of kaya (coconut butter) toast and a drink of either coffee or tea is incredible and a perfect energy boost in the heat of this incredible city. You can order the coffee or tea in a variety of ways (here’s a more in depth post on the various combinations of Malaysian coffee/tea). We ordered with the condensed milk and less sugar. Indulgent but delicious and we burnt those calories pretty quickly! An authentic, unique coffee experience. Also, just around the corner there’s a pretty large area dedicated to more restaurants and cafés which is always packed and full of culinary choices as well as containing an ATM.
Epicure Artisan Coffee, Berkhamstead, UK. This was a find that stemmed out of some long awaited “backyard exploration” Berkhamstead being twenty minutes away from our home. These guys know their stuff when it comes to brewing the perfect cup and they hold a selection of freshly made food too. If you want to explore coffee at a deeper level and have your mind blown by the possibilities and variations in brewing methods and beans then definitely check this place out. The slower v60 or Chemex pour over methods will open your mind to a whole world of coffee you didn’t know was there before. Their beans are generally sourced from the guys at Union Coffee and they’ll match the right bean to the right drink if you ask them.
Memphis Belle Coffee House, Wellington, NZ. This place has to get a mention. One of our favourite spots to unwind in Welly thanks to it’s super-chilled vibe, slightly mad staff and great music. Speciality coffee and good food. Try their “summer brown,” essentially a velvety flat white over ice served in a glass tumbler which is amazing. Your loyalty stamp card is sure to fill up fast!
Factory Cafe and Brew Bar, Bangkok, Thailand. We found this place by chance after walking past, on our way to pick up a bus to the floating markets north of the city. After a quick bit of research online we saw the great reviews and headed inside. So glad we did. Hip, industrial chic vibe and original menu items as only SE Asia baristas seem to conjure! The ice cube espresso served with a jug of steamed milk and a pipette of flavour syrup was theatrical and delicious with the frozen coffee slowly melting and dispersing it’s flavour without warming too much. Also, the oreo milkshake is addictive and Jenga is available!
Toys Café, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. We’d just booked our ferry from Penang to Langkawi after spending the day exploring the clan jetties in the blazing sun. We were exhausted and needed to relax for bit before trying to find some of the incredible street art dotted around the area. Hard life, we know! A café we had been looking for after some online recommendations was closed and so we came upon Toys Café. The Iron-Man and Captain America art on the outside wall was enough to draw us in! What a place. Countless action figures (the owner is a genuine fan and collector), life sized Mk1 Iron-Man suit in the corner and amazing art on the walls (think Gundam, Dragonball, Street Fighter etc) added to the friendly service, great coffee (with complimentary cookie!), milkshakes and cake. The Totoro chocolate art on the serving boards was a nice touch. Fun, cosy place with added nerd credibility.
What are some of your favourite coffee experiences around the world? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Stay tuned to part 2 of our top coffee experiences coming soon!