A place to sit to rest weary legs, a tabletop to spread out a crinkled paper map, the glorious possibility of Wi-Fi or perhaps even air-conditioning: for the tired traveller, there’s no place like a coffee shop. And even the most hardened voyager sometimes needs an injection of caffeine and sugar before hitting the pavement, cobblestones, or museum flooring once more.
There are plenty of faceless chain coffee shops in nearly every city on earth. But many cafés are so much more than that. Coffee draws a community around it, and, sometimes, coffee shops take on the character of their owners, patrons, and locations. And even more so than restaurants, these cafés have a longevity that puts many bars and restaurants to shame. Loyal customers looking to extend their waking hours often extend the lifespan of a coffee shop over decades or even centuries. Visitors and locals can drink café con leche at Café La Habana in Mexico City, where revolutionaries once planned their next moves, or sip a brew at St. Petersburg’s Literary Cafe, where Pushkin had his last-ever drink.
Some newer coffee shops, though, are fascinating for reasons other than history. At Cafe Yeonnam-Dong 223-14 in South Korea, design is king: The entire interior was built to appear as a 2-D illusion to the naked eye. Other cafés are all about the future, like Bison Coffeehouse in Portland, Oregon. There, the proprietor proudly features the fruits of the exploding Native coffee movement, which is breaking new ground(s) with exciting blends roasted on reservations across North America. Whether you’re into the finest beans or Frappucinos, there’s a coffee shop for you.