Sipping coffees in the morning sun. Pausing in the shade for a glass of wine between long, meandering walks. Stopping to take photographs and inhale the new city around us, together.
That’s what I would have been doing, if my trip to Vienna with Madi had gone ahead today. Instead, I’m happily staying at home, as is the responsible thing to do, and daydreaming about a time when we’re able to take this trip in the future.
Visiting small, independent coffee shops is one of my favourite things to do whenever I visit a new town or city, and a regular feature of my morning routine, wherever I am in the world. Stopping in a coffee shop is a great way to take in the people, the sights and the culture around you. It encourages you to slow down, to soak in the moment and really appreciate it. Plus, you get a great cup of coffee and a little energy boost to start the day, which is especially useful if you walk everywhere, like I do.
So, I thought today would be a good day to take a wander back through some of my favourite coffee spots that I have visited across the world. Granted, I have a lot more places that I would love, and still intend, to visit, but here are some of my favourites so far – and the moments they instantly transport me back to.
Tucked away in the corner of a little side street, I stumbled upon this cosy gem of a cafe when I headed out on an early walk, on my first morning in Barcelona, to find somewhere to grab breakfast. It was a relatively cool start to the day, but the rising sun indicated that it was going to be another scorching hot afternoon.
I decided to take my time, wandering without aim, until I found somewhere. I came across this small open-fronted cafe and, as my stomach began to grumble, pulled up a tall chair on a table in the welcome breeze blowing through the door. The slow, mid-week pace of the morning crowd and friendly, welcoming staff meant it was the perfect place to perch with my breakfast baguette and warm cup of coffee.
The peaceful lull was broken by the clattering sounds of a large, Canadian family looking to grab breakfast to go. They started talking, at a volume that filled the cafe, about how good my sandwich looked, where they should visit in the city and asked whether I could help them map their route. Their excitement was infectious and filled me with the post-breakfast hunger to get out and explore the city myself.
Okay, so perhaps not the smallest or cutest of coffee shops, but situated just a 5 minute walk from my hostel and with guaranteed soy milk and vegan breakfast goods on offer, 12 Oz was my go-to coffee shop in Venice.
I started every morning with a tall soy latte and a delicious, bready vegan croissant in hand before walking along the water’s edge, admiring the city’s incredible architecture. Despite being known for its hustle and bustle of residents and tourists, I (completely by luck) managed to pick the perfect time to visit Venice as the mornings were blissfully quiet and serene, with only the odd person opening up shop or sweeping clean the cobbled streets for the day ahead.
Steap and Grind / Old City Coffee – Philadelphia
Trips to Philadelphia are equally fuelled by beer and coffee. After a late night, or maybe one too many drinks, coffee is the perfect perk up. Whether it’s to wake you up first thing, to accompany you on the trip into the city or to warm you up for the day’s adventures, there’s usually a coffee in hand.
I found two favourites on my most recent trip to Philadelphia (we have family friends in Philly, I try to visit as often as possible). The first was Steap and Grind, ideally located just a short walk from our friend’s house. We often headed there for the first coffee of the day and to grab a delicious bagel (check out that vegan bacon!). Always busy (both with people and dogs), it seemed to be a firm favourite in the neighbourhood.
Second was Old City Coffee, situated down a long, cobbled street, its small shop filled with the aroma of coffee beans. Ready for my second cup of the day, this was a great find for our stroll around Philly as we headed to a couple of our must-visit places on the list, including the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site. I remember dropping behind to stop, stand under the trees and capture the moment because I felt so boundlessly happy. It’s still one of my favourite pictures, and moments, to date.
Oh man, I regularly daydream about how incredible the breakfasts at W & K were. A small, pretty little cafe, Wulff & Konstali was just around the corner from our flat in Copenhagen and an indulgent way to fill up for another day of wandering.
We were initially drawn in by the cute shop front, with a display of flowers, various baked treats and people chatting over coffees on the chairs outside. However, we definitely stayed for the vast array of different breakfast goods on offer. You start with a long menu of items, on which you tick off the ones you want to try. Forget the envy of eating one thing but secretly wishing you had picked another, in Copenhagen you can get the whole lot!
Our breakfasts could feature anything from scrambled egg and sliced avocado, to cheese and chutney with a side of raspberry mousse-filled waffles. I could definitely get used to starting the day so decadently. Coffee number 1 down, I usually picked up another to join us on our walk into the city.
Where are your favourite coffee spots?
I’m excited for the time when I’m able to plan more travels and add some more wonderful coffee spots to my list. More than just a chance to sip on coffee, these cafes and the moments within them always immediately transport me back to the calm, content feeling I get when I travel and make a conscious effort to breathe in what’s happening around me.
There’s something pretty romantic about the ability of a coffee shop to make you feel so connected to a time, a place and a feeling. I’d love to hear about some of your favourite cafes and moments. Let’s talk in the comments!