Tour de Coffee
By Allison Mazur
June 16, 2016
I can’t lie, I was really excited to go abroad for the coffee. Italian espresso? Sign me up! Before I left I was looking up travel tips for the United Kingdom and some posts said it would be hard to come across coffee because of the emphasis on tea. WHAT?? No coffee??? But the second my plane touched down in London, I had no problem finding a Starbucks at Heathrow, so I’m convinced that post was out of date.
When I got to Belfast I wandered around where we were staying and I passed by dozens of little pubs and coffee shops. I then decided to make it my mission to seek out the best latte in Europe. For research, you know? (Not because I’m addicted to coffee and trying to justify spending a ton of money on it, nope not at all.) And that is how the Tour de Coffee was born.
The first latte I encountered on my trip was from a little booth at St. George’s Market, an outdoor market that is open on the weekends. I think I will miss the markets most in Europe. Their artisanal feel is something to be desired. I got a coconut latte from Javaman (unusual I know, but I like trying new stuff) and it was absolutely delicious.
Metz Express, Belfast
I went to Metz Express a few times because it was down the street from our hotel in Belfast, and it was easy to grab something in the morning before our activities. I had plain lattes there, and while good, they were nothing special.
Full Circle Roasters, Dublin
There was a small coffee stand in our hostel, Jacob’s Inn, in Dublin which was super convenient for breakfast. I got a mocha there one morning and I was surprised to see them melting real chocolate for my drink. Needless to say, it was very chocolate-y. Not sure if that was a good thing.
Lavazza, Dublin (Trinity College)
While at Trinity, some of us decided to grab coffee and relax in the sun. Their student union was brewing Lavazza coffee, an Italian brand. I was finally getting some Italian espresso! Sadly, the latte was nothing memorable. (But I did enjoy people watching!)
The Coffee House at Cadwaladers, Cardiff
Cardiff was a beautiful town on the water, and it was a gorgeous sunny day. That may be influencing my rating for this latte. I found this latte to be particularly good, and I also got a Welsh cake with it. And then proceeded to inhale more Welsh cakes at Golley Slater the following day.
Caffè Nero, Cardiff/London
Again, travel blogs told me that there are two major coffee chains in the UK: Caffè Nero and Costa, and that you usually become loyal to one over the other. I guess I became loyal to Caffè Nero. I have a punch card and everything. I have purchased many lattes and cappuccinos from Caffè Nero, and I keep going back so they must be good. Also there’s one on practically every corner. Can’t beat convenience.
All I remember about this latte is grabbing it at Marylebone Station before going on The Beatles Walking Tour. Excuse me, the BEE-TOES OF ABBEY ROAD! But the latte did the job — it woke me up. Again, not too memorable though.
Lili’s NYC, Paris
Of course I found coffee on our weekend trip to Paris (although when I ordered coffee at the first café, I got a shot of espresso). And of course the place I ended up at was an American-style coffee shop. Oops. But it was pretty good! I also had a muffin (not pictured) that was yummy.
Yeah I know this isn’t a latte. It’s actually English Breakfast Tea. But I couldn’t go to London and not have tea! This tea was too cute – it came in a teapot and all. Perfect drink with brunch to end my time in London.
Patisserie Valerie, Edinburgh
We ducked into this chain café after we were enticed by the pastries in the window (how can you say no to cheesecake and fruit tarts?). I ordered a caramel latte to give me some motivation to work on my final paper, and it did the job. Would definitely recommend.
So who wins the Tour de Coffee? Well, I do. I got to try a bunch of different coffee companies (although it’s fairly difficult to screw up a simple latte), and travel around Europe. What could be better? (But really, Javaman in Belfast won. I am slightly biased toward small coffee businesses.)
Thank you Ireland, France, and the United Kingdom for your incredible hospitality. And of course, the many people we have met along the way! Until next time…