When I started this blog, I wanted to incorporate something besides travel to make it more interesting. I quickly thought of coffee as that element. Not only do I drink a lot of coffee, I also enjoy finding out what I like and don’t like about a roast and how different brewing methods create different flavors. Now that this blog has been going for two years and I’ve accumulated many travel stories, I thought: what better way to celebrate than creating a travel bucket list for coffee lovers?
1. Portland, Oregon
I had my most expensive coffee ever in Portland, Oregon.
It was a rainy day, and a hot cup of drip coffee sounded really, really good. I had seen on Eater that Proud Mary Cafe served some of the best (and most expensive) coffee in town, at $14 a cup for one of their specialty drinks. I was so curious what a $14 cup of coffee tasted like that I ended up getting one!! The floral aroma of that coffee has since been etched in my memory.
Portland’s coffee culture started as early as 1900, and went through a series of transformations to become the coffee city it is today. Some notable coffee shops besides Proud Mary Cafe: Stumptown Coffee, Nossa Familia and Ovation Coffee & Tea.
2. Seattle, Washington
Why Seattle deserves a spot on my travel bucket list for travel lovers probably needs no explanation. Starbucks started out at Pike Place Market and has since took the world by storm. But did you know that Starbucks started out selling beans from California-based coffee roaster Peet’s?
3. San Francisco, California
It wasn’t until after I left San Francisco that I realized how good the coffee there was.
Maybe it has to do with the fact that the first cup of coffee in the West was served in San Francisco in 1846, or the fact that the first beans Starbucks sold was from California-based roaster Peet’s. SF has had a ton of great coffee roasters in the city, and still does to this date!
My comprehensive list of all the best coffee shops in San Francisco can be found here.
4. Big Island, Hawaii
Even if Big Island didn’t have amazing coffee, it should make it onto everyone’s travel bucket list. The fact that Big Island is the birthplace of Kona coffee is just the icing on top.
Kona coffee is grown on Hawaiian soil, and due to Hawaii’s lush, rainforest-y landscape, the coffee grown there naturally tastes different.
What’s great about visiting Big Island as a coffee lover is that not only do you get to taste great coffee from its origin, you can also see how its grown.
There are a ton of coffee farms that offer tours and tastings on the island. If visiting a coffee farm is in the books for you during your trip, I recommend Heavenly Hawaiian Coffee Farm. They do a free tasting and the coffee farm sits on top of a mountain with incredible views of the ocean.
For a full list of coffee shop recommendations in Big Island, check out this guide.
5. San Juan, Puerto Rico
I didn’t know Puerto Rico was known for its coffee until I visited the beautiful Caribbean island in February. In fact, coffee was first introduced in Puerto Rico during Spanish colonial rule, and the island was once the world’s seventh largest coffee producer!
Similar to Hawaii, Puerto Rico is able to grow tasty coffee beans because of its rich volcanic soil, altitude, and tropical climate. My first impression of Puerto Rican coffee was that the coffee tasted nuttier than the ones I was used to getting back in New York City.
Coffee shop hopping is actually quite easy in Puerto Rico because most of the cafes are gathered in San Juan. If you only have time for one, don’t miss out on trying coffee from either Finca Cialitos or Filtrado.
6. Havana, Cuba
A city that is both vibrant and has great coffee, Havana deserves a spot on you travel bucket list!
Once again, similar to Hawaii and Puerto Rico, the rich soil in Cuba allows coffee plants to flourish. Cuban coffee is known for its strong, sweet taste, and there’s no shortage of coffee shops in Havana for you to get your coffee fix.
A Travel Bucket List Like No Other
Hopefully like me, you’ll find that traveling to a city in search of the best coffee makes the trip more exciting.
In the U.S., you can find incredible coffee from many west coast cities, and Big Island can offer you a glimpse into how your favorite caffeinated drink is actually grown and made.
Outside of the U.S., there are also plenty of places to search for the best freshly roasted coffee. Aside from the already-mentioned Cuba, Ethiopia, Nicagarua, Colombia, and Kenya are also great destinations to add to your travel bucket list.
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