• 8 September 2021

Coffee is loved across the globe. Whether you need to kick start your morning with a strong cuppa, catch up with friends over a cappuccino or two, or end off a long day with something warm and frothy, coffee is always there for us! Americano, flat white, frappé, espresso, Türk Kahvesi, cà phê đá, café au lait… coffee comes in many different names, shapes and forms. There is even a whole day dedicated to it! International Coffee Day takes place annually on 1 October. In honour of International Coffee Day, Expat Explore has put together a list of the best places to enjoy a cup of coffee across Europe. 

Cappuccino with heart in foam international coffee day
Celebrate the love of coffee on International Coffee Day!
A brief history of these beautiful beans:

The story goes that coffee beans were first discovered in Ethiopia in 800 AD, by Kaldi, a goat herder who noticed that his animals became energized after eating some berries – what we know today as coffee beans. Another tale says that coffee beans were founded by a Yemeni mystic who was travelling through Ethiopia and noticed a flock of energized birds who had been eating fruit (a coffee plant) which he then tried. Whatever the true origins, over hundreds of years, coffee spread from Northern Africa to Arabia, Europe, Asia and the Americas.  

It grew in popularity thanks to its energetic qualities and tastiness! It soon became a part of daily life. The world’s first coffee house was opened in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1475. The drink’s popularity spread across Europe in the 17th century, soon becoming a cultural staple.

Today, coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world! Coffee culture has become increasingly popular; especially so in Europe. You’ll no doubt encounter many great cups of coffee during your travels! Take a look at our list of six must-visit coffee destinations in Europe, below.

The best places for a cup of coffee in Europe:

1. Vienna, Austria

Music, opera, imperial architecture and coffee; all the things Vienna is famous for! Viennese coffee culture is exceptional! Coffee is an art form and a lifestyle. Coffee houses are places where people can linger and socialise. UNESCO has even added Viennese coffee house culture to the list of intangible cultural heritage. While visiting Vienna, make a stop at a classic coffee house to experience the elegance and tradition common to these establishments. Café Central, Café Weimar and Café Hawelka are three top spots to enjoy a great cup of coffee in the city. 

Local coffee to try: Wiener melange. Similar to a caffe latte, a wiener melange is a shot of espresso with hot milk and milk foam on top. Best enjoyed with a slice of sachertorte! 

Cafe central coffee house in Vienna, Austria international coffee day
Enjoy the tradition and grandeur of Vienna’s classic coffee houses.

Related: Enjoy a trip to Austria and experience its incredible capital city. 

2. Rome, Italy

Italians are serious about their coffee! Coffee first arrived in Italy in the 1500s. Venice is home to the world’s oldest coffee house, Caffè Florian, which opened in 1720 and still stands today! In Italy, coffee culture comes with customs, etiquette and even a few rules. Cafés or coffee shops are called “bars”, milky coffees like cappuccino and caffè latte are only for the mornings, coffee is often enjoyed al banco which means standing at a bar (usually while chatting!), and drinks like espresso and macchiato are what to order after lunch and dinner. The best place to experience Italian coffee and coffee culture is in Rome, where Italy’s coffee heritage buzzes in coffee bars across the city. 

Local coffee to try: When in Rome, order “un caffè” (espresso) or a caffè macchiato which is espresso with a shot of milk. Enjoy it the local way – at one of the bars accompanied by a small pastry. 

Drinking cappuccinos on a street in Rome international coffee day
Sip on delicious Italian coffee in Rome.

Related: Expat Explore offers a number of exciting Italy tours that showcase the best of this popular travel destination! 

3. Paris, France

In the past, France may have built up a bit of a bad reputation for its coffee with critics calling it over-extracted and bitter.  However, the tides are changing! In France, enjoying a cup of coffee is all about the atmosphere. In fact, the best place to experience French coffee culture is in beautiful Paris! Do as the locals do and enjoy your coffee in a leisurely fashion at a cosy café. Parisian cafés are centres for socialising and the culinary arts. Similar to the Italians, in France, milky coffee is only for the morning  while espressos and the like are for throughout the day.  

Local coffee to try: Sip on a café au lait (brewed coffee with hot milk) at a local café and top it off with a warm, buttery croissant! 

Two friends sharing coffee and croissants in Paris international coffee day
Complete your morning coffee experience with a freshly-baked croissant in Paris!

Did you know? Many of Expat Explore’s multi-country Europe tours feature stops in fantastic French destinations.  

4. Istanbul, Turkey

Turkish coffee also boasts a spot on UNESCO’s Items of Intangible Cultural Heritage list! It has a long and fascinating history and the act of drinking coffee is a huge part of the lifestyle in Turkey. The Turkish coffee experience isn’t just about drinking – it’s about slowing down and socialising; a feature that has stuck since the first coffee houses opened in Istanbul, through to modern times. You’ll find a mix of traditions and modern influences in cafés and coffee houses across Istanbul. 

Turkish coffee is rich and bold! It’s unique as it is prepared unfiltered which means you drink it with the grounds. Finely-ground coffee beans are simmered in a cezve (a copper or brass pot with a long handle) and served in small cups (similar to espresso cups). 

Local coffee to try: Enjoy a cup of Türk Kahvesi (Turkish coffee) served the traditional way in a traditional coffeehouse. 

People drink coffee in front of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul Turkey international coffee day
Traditional Turkish coffee is rich and bold in flavour.

Related: See the Highlights of Turkey on an unforgettable guided group tour!  

5. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal’s vibrant capital city, is another destination where coffee plays a major role in daily life. You’ll find cafés dotted throughout neighbourhoods in Lisbon, usually bustling with locals and travellers enjoying “um cimbalino” (what an espresso is called in Lisbon) and “um café pingado” (an espresso with a splash of milk). Across Portugal, coffee is the delicious social beverage of choice – the coffee culture fits right in with the laid-back Portuguese attitude!

Local coffee to try: Enjoy a galão the next time you visit Lisbon. This is ¼ coffee and 3/4 milk (similar to a latte). Another interesting one to try is mazagran which is cold espresso with lemon juice or lemon soda added! 

Pasties de nata and cup of coffee on table international coffee day
Enjoy a hot cuppa’ coffee with sweet Pasteis de Nata in Lisbon!

Related: Experience scenic landscapes, delicious food and vibrant culture on tours of Portugal and Spain.

6. Reykjavik, Iceland

Did you know that Scandinavians have the second-highest coffee consumption per capita in the world? A hot cup of coffee is the perfect way to warm up in colder climates so it makes sense that countries like Iceland would offer up great coffee! Travel to Reykjavik and you’ll experience cafés full of charm; most serving Italian style coffee. There are no major international brands in Iceland’s capital. This means smaller, local businesses have a chance to flourish which has led to a thriving coffee scene in Reykjavik! Coffee is a big part of social gatherings in Iceland. Sitting down for a cup with friends is a leisurely experience.  

Local coffee to try: Sit down for a cappuccino or a latte in one of Reykjavik’s inviting coffee shops like Mokka Kaffi or Café Babalú.  

View of Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik Iceland international coffee day
Warm up in beautiful Reykjavik with a hot cup of coffee!

Are you looking forward to sipping on a hot cup of coffee somewhere beautiful? Then International Coffee Day is the perfect reason to start planning your next trip to Europe

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