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Any third-wave coffee fans?


by @bavals | 5yr  | 13 comments

Anybody here whoโ€™s in love with good, expertly prepared coffee? How do you go about finding good cafรฉs in the cities you visit? By โ€œgoodโ€ I mean not just the availability of several espresso drinks and wi-fi, but a whole bunch of things: arabica beans, good roaster, skillful barista who knows how to pull a good shot and steam milk correctly, etc.

I recently spent a month in Barcelona, meticulously going through a list of recommendations fromโ€ฆ you knowโ€ฆ the Internets. Mostly it was very disappointing. For example, I found no cafรฉs that grind to order (in fact, there might have been one, but it was closed when I went by). People on various tourist forums rave about cafรฉs that are frankly terrible in the important respect: the product. In the end, the best that I found in that city (after doing some Googling in Italian: I gave up on trying to find anything in English because itโ€™s all marketing and SEO now) was Cafรฉ Central near Diagonal. They use decent beans and know how to steam.

So my question, if this kind of thing is important to you, how do you research/find good cafรฉs? Is there a web site covering many world cities written by people who are able to distinguish arabica from robusta?

P.S. I hope I didnโ€™t come off as a pretentious elitist here. Itโ€™s just that I really really love me a good cup of arabica. It lifts my spirits and makes me more productive.

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@petermcdonagh_ | 5yr

@bisonravi I completely understand. Thereโ€™s coffee and then thereโ€™s coffee!

I used to work and compete in coffee so I always like seeing how the coffee scene is evolving in other cities that I visit. I just visited Brew Lab in Istanbul and it was really very good โ€” overall the city tended towards lighter roasts and higher acidity.

Try a few of these resources for starters:
http://europeancoffeetrip.com/city-guides/

I also follow a lot of coffee people on twitter, so I usually hit them up for recommendations wherever Iโ€™m going too.

Let me know if you find any great places!

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@bavals | 5yr

Peter: Thank you very much! Your links are great!

Among places in Europe missing from both sites, Iโ€™d mention Le Coutume Cafรฉ in Paris (7th arr.; a second cafรฉ inside the Finnish Cultural Institute in the 5th opened recently), who roast their beans right in the cafรฉ (off-hours). While I am on the subject, it amazes me that Paris is so far behind in the coffee department. I guess commercial leases in the city are prohibitively expensive for cafรฉs.

Also, there are over a dozen places in Montreal (my current location) but they tend to be very similar โ€“ for example, almost all source their coffee from the same West Coast roaster (49th parallel out of Vancouver).

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@petermcdonagh_ | 5yr

Yeah, Iโ€™ve heard of Coutume and it looks amazing, one of the originals of the new breed of cafes in Paris. Paris seems to have a really thriving scene with more and more places opening up. On my to-visit list for sure.

Spruge is another great place to find out whatโ€™s happening in cities around the world โ€” they often do city profiles and cafe features. A quick search usually turns up some good recommendations: http://sprudge.com/?s=paris

Iโ€™m currently in Bologna and the pickings are slim, but looking Iโ€™m forwarding to visiting Ditta Artigianale in Florence which seems to be leading the charge in Italy.

If youโ€™re ever in Ireland, make sure to pay a visit to 3fe ( http://www.3fe.com )

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@jruz | 5yr

I use mainly foursquare. But keep in mind that part of the adventure is trial and error, even though is pretty easy to spot a good place.
Itโ€™s a pity you didnโ€™t ask here or hashtagnomads for recommendations in Barna, you missed some really good places.

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@gnclmorais | 5yr

I have to jump in here, since Iโ€™ve been getting more & more into coffee since I got out of Portugal. I canโ€™t speak for the whole Europe, but I can tell you that (at least) London and Berlin are full of great coffee places & roasters. I usually use Foursquare to find places, and most of the time they are not disappointing at all. In fact, Iโ€™ve found amazing coffee here in London just going through a few lists personally and really checking if the coffee is that good. And let me tell you: London has no shortage of great coffee, a lot of it roasted here as well. Speaking now of Berlin, you have great places as well, like Bonanza, where the baristas are very knowledgeable and know what they are doing.

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@bavals | 5yr

Gonรงalo, Would you mind sharing your favorites from Lisbon? BeanHunter doesnโ€™t list many cafรฉs there and just walking around (and reading more โ€œmainstreamโ€ sites like TimeOut-Lisbon) I found only one decent one (Choupana on Av. da Republica). Thanks in advance!

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@gnclmorais | 5yr

I must admit I have no idea howโ€™s the current coffee culture in Lisbon, Iโ€™m afraid. But when I find myself in a situation like this, where I donโ€™t know where to go, I always look for Foursquare lists, like this one or this one. They are usually quite good.

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@bavals | 5yr

Gonรงalo: Thanks for the listings! I looked through both. They seem a bit hit-or-miss at best and the fact that Starbucks is #1 on one of the โ€œtopโ€ lists (and listed โ€“ twice! โ€“ on both) doesnโ€™t exactly inspire confidence. However, I agree that such lists can still function as a good first approximation, to be whittled down by visiting. Thanks again!

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@gnclmorais | 5yr

Yeah, I felt the same when I saw the Starbucksโ€ฆ But I thought that people like us know best, and we can easy with a glance sift the wheat from the chaff. :wink:

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@nomadicnotes | 5yr

I use Beanhunter to find cafes (they have some listings for Barcelona http://www.beanhunter.com/spain/catalonia/barcelona ). I have found that Europe is a bit behind in the third-wave coffee movement so the poor search results reflect that.

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@bavals | 5yr

Thanks, James! BeanHunter is kind of what I was looking for. The site has a few bugs (some static links donโ€™t work, but you can usually get around that by doing a search), but overall itโ€™s good. Hopefully it will grow its coverage of Europe.

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@kathrynoh | 5yr

To be honest, Iโ€™ve heard the term third-wave coffee a lot but have never known what it means. Personally, Iโ€™m not that interested in the process so long as the coffee tastes good in the end. It annoys me so much that you pay pretty much the same price for a mediocre or even undrinkable coffee as you do for a really high quality cup.

And I know what you mean about finding information. When I lived in Tokyo, Iโ€™d read articles on the Best 10 Coffees but itโ€™d all be about the quirky decor or the atmosphere. Phhht, what good is atmosphere if the coffee is crap?

Iโ€™ve found the best info by reading foodie blogs. Other than that, just walk around and find places that look (and smell) promising.

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@kristof | 5yr

Sucks indeed to pay the same price for a crap cup of coffee as for a good one. In most places it seems to be very hard to find good coffee shops, though Iโ€™m not a purist or anything.

Do you guys also make coffee on the road yourselves or just get your fix from coffee shops?

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