Monday, April 2, 2012

Best Coffee Shops in the World

On a recent trip home from Singapore, we found ourselves with a canceled flight and eight hours to spend in Tokyo. How did we spend the morning? Tracking down the best coffee shop in town, of course. Some people -- including a few of those that have traveled with us -- might consider this a waste of time. However, in Tokyo, we found ourselves walking through a residential neighborhood, like a local would do each morning, heading to a coffee shop for our morning latte. Once we arrived at what is now one of our favorite coffee shops, we met the owner and chatted with the friendly barista, enjoyed a local pastry and saw a completely different side of the city, all thanks to a coffee.  

Five coffee shops good enough to make a detour for...

Little Nap Coffee Stand, Tokyo
5-65-4 Yoyogi Shibuya-Ku, 03-3466-0074,
On a quiet side street in a residential area of Shibuya, a tiny, friendly coffee shop is making perfect lattes. From the closest subway stop, you'll walk by parks and see kids playing in the community center yard before you come across the tiny, well-designed Little Nap Coffee Stand and enjoy a single origin drip or espresso made with their own roasted beans.

Four Barrel Coffee, San Francisco
375 Valencia Street at 15th; 415-252-0800,
You might think of the Mission district in San Francisco only for burritos (they invented mission-style burritos after all), but it's also home to one of the best coffees in town. Four Barrel Coffee, complete with plenty of bike parking and an innovative outdoor area created on a sliver of sidewalk, offers plenty of exotic blends and single origin beans. 

40 Hands Coffee, Singapore
Blk 78 Yong Siak Street, #01-12, Tiong Bahru Estate,
The name 40 Hands comes from the notion that it takes 40 hands to produce a cup of coffee, from seed to cup. This cafe and casual restaurant, as well as ODP (Open Door Policy) across the street run by the same people, serves a fantastic latte with absolutely the best consistency of milk we've tasted. We can't say enough about the incredible coffee (and latte art) at 40 Hands Coffee.

Intelligentsia, Chicago
Monadnock Building, 53 West Jackson Blvd.,
Known for top-tier baristas and a strong commitment to creating the perfect shot, Intelligentsia brings a serious approach to making excellent coffee. Behind the scenes, Intelligentsia works directly with producers too ensure that only the best beans make it into your cuppa joe. The baristas also seem to know how to be hip and still be nice to customers while pulling a consistently beautiful shot. Try the Black Cat beans, a sweeter but balanced blend made specifically for espresso.

Stumptown, Portland
4525 SE Division Street, 503-230-7702,
One of the pioneers of the coffee revolution (at least in Portland), Stumptown has stood out with their own roasted beans in a city that is very serious about coffee. If you aren't going to be near Portland any time soon, you can still find their beans across the country in cafes that know a good coffee.

For more great coffee from New York to Sydney, check out our previous posts Top Coffee Shops around the World and Back to the Grind: 5 More Top Coffee Shops around the World.

Just for fun, check out this video for a professional espresso machine so easy to use, it's child's play:
"If five year olds can make espresso..."

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