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Food + Drink

The World’s Coolest Coffee Shops

We get it. You love your tall, double-whip, caramel-syrup-topped mocha frappucinos. But go out in search of your usual brew while traveling abroad, and we'll judge HARD. Here are 14 places to hit up for authentic alternatives, from a café-cum-bicycle shop in Japan to a Mad Men-esque coffee joint in Norway. No excuses.

See recent posts by Siobhan Reid

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Single O, Sydney

A cornerstone of the Sydney scene, Single O opened in the buzzy Surry Hills neighbourhood in 2003 and has expanded to five outposts in Australia and beyond since. The flagship has a neighborhood feel and plenty of outdoor seating—plus exotic, high-grade beans like the Geisha, the most sought after coffee bean in the world.. Order a flat white (a customer favorite), or ask the super friendly and knowledgeable baristas to whip you up a custom creation.

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Giracha Coffee, Osaka

Coffee, bicycles and thrift-style fashion converge at Giracha Coffee in Osaka’s trendy Tachibana-touri area. The standing-bar-style café has very limited seating, so prepare to get social with the locals as you check out the extensive menagerie of collectibles from tricycles to globes and glossy mags. On tap? Coffee sourced from Shibuya’s Streamer Coffee Company—a dark, viscous brew with a frothy crema and a nutty base.

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Café Central, Vienna

Sigmund Freud, Leon Trotsky, and Arthur Schnitzler were all regulars at Café Central, Vienna’s legendary literati café dating back to 1876. You can feel the history from the moment you step inside the opulent space—all high walls, marble pillars, arched ceilings, and glittering chandeliers. Throngs of tourists are to be expected, but the coffee and pastries (try the apfeltorte, a sunken apple cake) are worth it.

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Fuglen, Oslo

At this handsome, den-like coffee shop in Oslo, you can sample beans from local roasters (brewed using a variety of methods from French press, to filter, cold brew and AeroPress) while perusing the café’s eclectic collection of midcentury Scandinavian furniture. Like what you see? Everything is for sale, from the classic ‘70s-style coffee tables to the Mad Men-esque armchairs. Jetsetter tip: stick around for after hours, when the retro café turns into a speakeasy serving artisanal beer and craft cocktails.

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Sightglass Coffee, San Francisco

Brothers Justin and Jerad Morrison conceived Sightglass in 2009; eight years later, the coffee roaster has five San Francisco locations to its name. Go to the new retail location on Divisadero Street and, if you’re in a hurry, order a drink to go at the walk-up window. Have more time to kill? Venture inside and order a nitro cold brew (it’s on tap) and a pastry from Neighbor Bakehouse.

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Photos courtesy of Jessica Copi and My Parisian Life via Flickr


Ob-La-Di, Paris

How do fashion girls keep energized between shows at Paris Fashion Week? Coffee runs at Ob-La-Di, the charming micro café in Paris’ Haut Marais district. Down the street from upscale boutiques like Isabel Marant and Anine Bing, this hotspot regularly caters to French It girls. We recommend the pomegranate seed-topped avocado toast with a cookie-dough-ice-cream-spiked affogato.

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Flight Coffee Hangar, Wellington

The folks at Wellington’s Flight Coffee Hangar are true coffee connoisseurs—something you might be able to intuit for the shop’s impressive list of single-origin, house blends, espresso, and cold drinks. There’s also an impressive range of brewing methods (think: cold drip and Chemex to v60 and Aeropress) to choose from, which makes it practically criminal to order something as straightforward as a latte.

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Caffè Florian, Venice, Italy

Caffe Florian is so beautiful and historic that we recommend it to people who don’t even drink coffee. The oldest, still-operating café in Europe (and one of the first to welcome women), the Venice institution oozes Old World glamour with its glittering neo-baroque décor, 19th-century wall panels, and piazza seating. It’s no wonder it was the café of choice for artists like Wagner, Goethe, Lord Byron, and Marcel Proust.

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Karabatak, Istanbul

Turkish coffee is something you almost chew, more than drink; it's prepared by boiling finely powdered roast coffee beans in a cezve (pot), dumping the contents in a heaping spoonful of sugar and then letting the dregs settle in a tiny cup. The best place to give this century-old tradition a try? At Karabatak, a neighborhood favorite in Istanbul’s Karaköy district. Opened as a branch of Austria-based Julius Meinl Coffee, the spot also serves plenty of “Western”-style coffee drinks (Aeropress coffee, lattes, etc.) on the menu. Grab a seat inside, where the cozy interiors are outfitted in vintage Meinl posters and mismatched furniture, or outdoors on the sunny, vine-covered terrace.

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Verve Coffee Roasters, Los Angeles

In perennially hip Los Angeles, it’s hard to keep track of the cool kids’ comings and goings. But get your buzz on at Verve Coffee Roaster’s third outpost in the heart of downtown, and you’ll find yourself in the company of bespectacled hipsters and ladies with septum piercings. The 1,600 square-foot space has industrial-style decor, tiled floors and a breezy patio, plus damn good espresso drinks and pour-over coffees. And, because it’s LA, there's a vast, rainbow-colored selection of cold-pressed juices.

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Photos courtesy of Claire Sambrook and barsata via Flickr


The Monocle Café, London

Smart and stylish, The Monocle Café in Marylebone is a destination for both coffee connoisseurs and design buffs. And given that it was conceived by the very team behind the London-based lifestyle and culture mag, Monocle, we’d expect nothing less. The space is housed in a two-story building with a stately terrace façade, and has coffee from Allpress, a menu designed by Masayuki Hara, and a curated playlist from Monocle 24, the brand’s radio station.

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Good Life, Helsinki

As one of the only specialty coffee shop in Finland, this cozy, design-minded café in Helsinki’s hip Kalli ‘hood is literally one of a kind. There are velvety smooth cappuccinos and creamy flat whites (a novelty in filter coffee-obsessed Finland), plus tasty bites like sugar-dusted doughnuts and flaky croissants. Settle into one of the comfy spots by the window and get your camera ready: design elements like graphic Marimekko wallpaper, Anglepoise lamps and colorful wall art make for killer Instagram fodder.

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Haas Coffee, Cape Town

Want to sample the most expensive coffee in the world? Cape Town’s Haas Collective stocks kopi luwak—a rare gourmet blend derived from beans collected from the droppings of a small, cat-like mammal called a civet. The smooth-tasting brew is $30 a cup, so don’t even think about drinking it on-the-go. Instead, savor it as you take in all the bold oil paintings, whimsical furniture, and traditional, South African décor (think: taxidermy hare and local artwork) that adorn the space.

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The Coffee Academics

Not all iced coffee is created equally. Case in point: at Hong Kong’s The Coffee Academics it takes a painstaking six hours to produce just one liter of liquid. The result? A deliciously nutty, full-bodied brew so delicious we downed ours in seconds. But it’s not just the cafe's iced coffee that sets them apart from the crowd. With a focus on testing out the latest coffee equipment and techniques, the Hong Kong café is the place to discover your favorite new go-to blend or have all your coffee-related questions answered.

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Beluga Cafe, São Paulo

Known as the city “built on coffee,” São Paulo's development is largely the result of the Brazilian coffee expansion of the 19th century. What this means? Options upon options of amazing coffeehouses from which to choose. We love Beluga Café in Santa Cecília, for its comprehensive menu of filter and espresso-based drinks—all grown and roasted in Brazil. Started in 2014 by the journalist Flávio Seixlack, the graphic designer Rodolfo Herrera and visual artist Rogério Tarantino, the cafe's clean lines and warm lights provide a soothing respite from Sao Paolo's chaotic streets.

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