The World’s Most Unique Coffee Shops
Everyone has their favourite coffee shop, the one special destination café that they can’t wait to get to so they can enjoy their own fabulous double espresso or macchiato. It’s usually cosy, comforting and the perfect place to unwind after a busy day or get into gear before going to do a long day’s work. Let’s not forget that coffee shops are special too because they are true meeting places.
The first one opened in Constantinople in 1555 and was a place where friends, colleagues, business people and others met to talk over their lives or what was going on in their area.
Nowadays they are still often used as a communal meeting area, where people arrange to meet for work purposes or socially. They’re even a place to make new friends, somewhere to see familiar faces every day and strike up a bond over a preferred drink. They’re where like-minded people get together or want to be alone yet surrounded by others while they read their newspaper or catch up on some emails.
However, what happens when you go abroad on a business trip or when you travel on holiday?
You still have to have your coffee right?
So where can you sample some great tasting coffee in an atmosphere that’s extra special and perhaps even unique?
This article focuses on the world’s most unique coffee shops, so next time you take that trip, you’ll know where’s good to try and where you are guaranteed fabulous coffee in an equally fabulous backdrop!
When in the USA
If you’re planning on visiting Portland, Oregan gets down to Heart Cafe (537 Southwest 12th Avenue) which roasts its own coffee inside and where the baristas are prepared to talk to you about all the different types of coffee on offer as well as advising on the right one for you.
The coffee house is particularly famous for its espressos, home-roasted, smooth and rich; there’s an espresso for every coffee lover, even those who find espresso a little strong. There’s also home-made ice cream and plenty of sweet treats to enjoy in this busy coffee shop. However, it’s bustling and fun, not the place you want to go to chillax but definitely the place to be if you want to meet new people and enjoy watching the in-crowd!
If you go to Los Angeles, home of all the movie stars then get down to G&B Coffee in Grand Central Market 317 S Broadway C19, Los Angeles, one of the best possible locations in the area.
Offering service that goes beyond and a coffee menu that is so extensive, it’s a must visit coffee shops that is so well-loved in its local area.
The baristas deliver every cup at the right temperature and administer perfect shots too. There’s also soda versions of some of their drinks, giving you a unique twist on your favourite and there’s a great bar area where you can sip your coffee chatting with your friends. There’s no queuing, it’s just like a Saturday night bar where you wait for service – this makes it an exceptionally cool venue and of course, everything is made in-house for an authentic experience.
San Francisco is home to the Black Point Café 882 North Point Street where you can enjoy extraordinary coffee delicacies such as a Lavender Latte (their signature drink).
This particular coffee drink is a superb combination of the richest, dreamiest coffee with a touch of fragrant lavender which is soothing and calming, yet at the same time instantly refreshing. Instead of a little cinnamon, enjoy sprinkled lavender on the top and treat yourself to one of their organic pastries.
The café itself is large and airy with a freshly-baked atmosphere and with so many goodies on display; it’s hard to stick to just one coffee and a slice of cake.
New York is where you’ll find the Laughing Man coffee shop (184 Duane Street) owned by Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman.
Situated in fashionable Tribeca on Duane Street this coffee shop not only serves an incredible array of flavours, it also gives plenty of cash back to its community. Every cup is sustainably sourced and fair trade and 50% of profits return to the farming community where the coffee is sourced.
When in Cuba
You’d expect a decent cup of coffee anywhere in Cuba but seriously – for the ultimate cup you must go to Café de Maria in Las Terrazas and sip your coffee on their dramatic outdoor terrace.
It’s an incredible location, with an abundance of greenery and brightly coloured floral displays. See the natural Cuban world just beyond the terrace, try the cappuccino which features a Che Guevara image scattered in the cocoa on the top! There’s also a sublime iced coffee drink named after its location “Las Terrazas”, a blend of espresso, milk, chocolate syrup, coffee liqueur and ice, perfect for cooling down in the hot, Cuban sunshine.
When in Germany
Visit bustling, thriving and atmospheric Berlin for a coffee at Bonanza Coffee Roasters, Prenzlauer Bert home to the fifth best coffee in the whole world! Supposedly the pioneers of Berlin’s Third Wave Coffee Movement it’s a popular haunt that’s enjoyed by coffee lovers all around this city.
It’s situated inside a really cool building that is almost impossible to spot (with its tiny name signage on the wall) the coffee shop has two different types of coffee beans that change every few months – so there’s no way its regulars will ever get bored.
Its success is obvious, there are huge queues outside often going round the block and people literally make Bonanza their destination. On warmer days, you can sit outside and sip one of their extraordinary espressos or try a tall latte with a shot of something extra-special (it depends what’s on their exciting menu) and watch people sing karaoke in the park opposite for free entertainment.
When in England
Head to London and stop by at Kaffeine (66 Great Titchfield Street) which is run by the most experienced baristas in the business.
In fact, no barista can work the machines at Kaffeine without 3 years of specialist Kaffeine training experience so you could say they know a thing or two about coffee. They’re also masters at latte art and can probably design anything you want. Check out their cappuccinos and espressos and when it gets hot (rarely in London), try their cold-brew, it’s out of this world.
Another great London coffee house is Bar Topolski situated near Waterloo (150-152 Concert Hall Approach, Lambeth).
It’s also a café featuring works by Feliks Topolski, a Polish artist. So you can spend time sipping your coffee while admiring and contemplating the art. Many coffees served come with a shot of something alcoholic, so you really get a great hit! It’s definitely a little bit different and gathers a trendy, arty crowd of coffee lovers and in the evening there’s cocktails and a DJ to get you up and dancing.
Like to drink your coffee in the loo?
Well, if you’re in London you can literally have your coffee at The Attendant, an old Victorian public lavatory in Exmouth Market.
You’ll enjoy delicious cups surrounded by the original urinals and even the water tanks! You couldn’t get more quirky if you tried. It’s always busy though and serves incredible coffee, freshly brewed – oh and it’s very clean too.
The seaside in England is underrated and in Sussex you’ll find the East Beach café based in Littlehampton and owned by English mother and daughter, Jane Wood and Sophie Murray.
It’s situated on the beach so you can take in the magestical splendour of the British seaside. The building is a nod to all that is sea-faring, made out of driftwood and seaside shapes such as rolling sand dunes and of course, the sea’s vast waves. It’s also made out of raw steel so it really has a dramatic backdrop. Enjoy delicious tasting coffee inside or outside and take in the sights, smells and sounds of the sea.
This is the perfect place to really let the worries of the world disappear as the natural beauty makes you feel at one with life!
When in Dubai
We know it gets very hot in Dubai so be sure to try out Chillout Café (Ground Floor, Times Square Center, Sheikh Zayed Road، Al Quoz) where you can enjoy steaming hot coffee at a starkly contrasting carved ice table, while sitting on a carved ice chair.
There are huge, life-size ice statues staring at you dotted around the area and as it’s exceptionally hot outside, it’s the right place to go to especially to cool down but make sure you dress appropriately, one thing it’s not is hot.
When in the Ukraine
Drop into Kiev and try out The Cake (вул. Басейна, 2, Kyiv).
It’s a spectacularly modern coffee shop that sells an array of exciting French delicacies and of course, plenty of really tasty coffee. Featuring animal balloon sculptures and bright colours against a stark white interior, it’s an arty, high-fashion feel, even the toilets are something you have to see.
When in Malaysia
If you like to really take it easy, you’ll fall in love with The Hammock Café in Penang (86 B&C, Lorong Macalister, 10400 George Town) Malaysia.
Chillax while sipping coffee and add a delectable homemade Malaysian dessert to your order. Of course, if you’d rather enjoy your coffee sitting upright, there are tables and low-seated chairs plus the gentle soft lighting and dusky earth colours make the café very low-key and laid-back, there are no formalities here. Kick back and let life roll by.
When in Canada
If you have a cat or you particularly love feline friends, visit the Café Chat L’Heureux of Montreal (172 Avenue Duluth E, Montréal, QC H2W 1H3).
There are two areas inside, a bistro side where no cats are allowed or the second area which is where you can enjoy playing with the visiting cats or even bring your own! Let your cat make friends with others and if you visit on the right day, there may even be an educational event taking place where you can learn about cats and their interesting lives, their history and so much more too. It’s the purrrrfect place for a spot of coffee and a furry cuddle!
When in Norway
Get yourself down to fair trade Tim Wendelboe in Oslo.
Situated in the Grunerlokka district (Grüners gate 1, 0552 Oslo), you can smell the coffee before you get inside the rustic wood and bare brick interior. The baristas are award-winning, the interior intimate and the smell literally mind-blowing. There’s a huge variety of fair trade coffee beans and each one tastes as good as the other.
You can purchase your beans here too but make sure you take in the relaxing, almost romantic surroundings and warm up from Norway’s cold weather with a steaming hot double espresso.
When in Ireland
Dublin is a city with a tremendous vibe and the friendliest people.
If you’re there, head to 3FE in 32 Grand Canal Street lower which is an amazing coffee shop with great service. The baristas are always busy creating brand new concoctions along with old favourites. Try a coffee trio which features beans served three ways, as an espresso, as filtered coffee and as an espresso served with milk. The baristas are captivating, their work really is a specialist art.
When in Japan
Head into Tokyo and try out minimalist Café Ki (155-0033 Tokyo, Setagaya, Daita), a monochrome coffee shop interior in white and coffee colour featuring plenty of modern steel and wood, it’s calm serene and relaxing although a little sparse! It’s definitely unique, with interior design oozing from every pore, including the dramatic graphics and quirky coffee products sold.
Even the staff look like interior designed models! Café Ki is a modern, Zen-like coffee house experience that really will help you to remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo life.
Want something even more quirky? Animal lover?
Try the Goat Café otherwise known as the Sakuragaoka Café in the Shibuya district (〒150-0031 Tokyo, 渋谷区Sakuragaokacho, 23−3 篠田ビル). The café is home to two goats and they meander round the coffee shop greeting customers and making new friends. Now, while it is quirky, there’s still a decent cup of coffee waiting for you and people often visit because they like the “nature” element of this strange café. Beware the goat droppings!
When in Italy
Home of the espresso, you can’t escape Italy without trying their coffee and Rome is one of the most beautiful world cities so head to Sant Eustachio II Café (Piazza di San Eustachio, 82, 00186 Roma RM ) for their chocolate espressos and you will know you’ve sampled pretty much the best tasting chocolatey coffees ever.
This café is tiny and popular so you might have to queue. It’s also right near the Parthenon so has a historical, nostalgic vibe. Order at a table or from the counter and take your favourite beans home with you too, the water coffee is mixed with comes from an ancient aqueduct! It’s one of those places you’ll want to remember forever.
When in Vietnam
Visit the Salvaged Ring Café in Nha Trang City which is an outdoor venue giving you plenty of access to endless Vietnamese sunshine and the spectacular deep, blue skies.
Located literally on the highway in the middle of the countryside, the owner built the structure entirely out of scrap wood. It has a curved thatched roof and has a distinctly Bohemian blended with Asian feel.
Back in 2014, this café was shortlisted for the 2014 Wood Excellence Awards such is the intricate and interesting design. Kick back, relax, enjoy a cup of coffee and watch the Vietnamese world float by.
When in New Zealand
Try Coffee Supreme in Auckland (376 Great North Road) especially if you fancy a twist on your regularly coffee favourite.
Renowned for doing things differently, this is the place to enjoy soda coffee drinks – that are fizzing with all their usual flavour and dance on your tongue too.
When in France
Already renowned for coffee, France has lots of different coffee shops to explore.
Why not get into the centre of Paris and enjoy extraordinary coffee at La Fontaine De Belleville (31-33 RueJuliette Dodu, 75010 Paris)? Owned by Thomas Lehouz and David Nigel Flynn it’s a stylish café with all the traditional elements you’d expect from French coffee houses and is classical in style yet contemporary in what it offers.
There’s even a delightful patio outside where you can sit watch the world go by and enjoy the best possible coffee. Did we mention there’s wine on the menu too? Ooh la la, how very French!
In Coffee Corner, I write about all things related to coffee and particularly coffee makers.
After being a self-admitted coffee addict for 20 years and as an experienced barista I would consider myself pretty well-versed on the subject. I will try to provide you as much information as possible about coffee makers and coffee in general, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us!