The best iced coffee I have ever had was in Pakse, Laos. Surprised? I was too, but southern Laos’ Bolaven Plateau produces high quality coffee beans (you can thank French colonization for that). The local cafes know how to brew it well, so every cup Mike and I had was absolutely brilliant. Southeast Asia’s coffee culture made the region home to our most memorable cups of joe, particularly those cranked out by Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. We fell so in love with Vietnamese coffee that we left clothes behind so we could stock our backpacks full of Vietnamese coffee filters and Trung Nguyen beans. Hardcore, right?
Brewing and serving techniques varied widely, and it was quite interesting to learn about the variations as well as the history of coffee within each culture. We didn’t set out on this trip excited to taste coffee around the world, though. Quite the opposite, we viewed it as a beercation of sorts, where we’d have the opportunity to try beer we can’t find at home (and did, but that’s another post). However, it’s worth it to note that Mike and I really enjoy coffee. Not just because the burst of energy it provides or the way it makes my hands shake when I consume too much caffeine. We both love to savor the rich, bold taste of a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
We didn’t encounter Starbucks everywhere we went during our 14-month RTW trip, so it was up to the mom-and-pop cafes to impress us with their local techniques. And impress us they did! Except in the case of a few countries that enjoy tea so much they neglect all things coffee and instead rely on Nescafe instant (Boo!). You’ll probably have a few “ah-ha!” moments as you read through the country list below, and hopefully you’ll learn a thing or two even though this isn’t meant to be a fact-heavy post.