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21 May 2018

Book Review: Lonely Planet's Global Coffee Tour

I couldn't have imagined a better book launch than the one I attended last week for a book about coffee and travel from my favourite travel guidebook publisher at one of my favourite coffee shops in London. The event was for Lonely Planet's Global Coffee Tour and took place at the original branch of The Gentlemen Baristas on Union Street, which I've been visiting for almost four years.


After enjoying a natural Ethiopian pourover coffee courtesy of The Gents and watching a latte art demo with one of the baristas, I talked with some of the friendly Lonely Planet team, including editor Karyn Noble, an Australian in London who was as delighted as I was to discover The GBs, which features in Global Coffee Tour, of course. I also got the chance to browse through the book, which is organised by continent and country and includes numerous coffee-shop recommendations, ordering tips (if I ever make it to Ethiopia — and I hope I will — I know now to say: "Nē buna ibakiwo ifeligalehu") and insights into coffee production, café culture and home-brewing.



It was a good sign when I opened the book at random on the Hungary section and came up with several coffee-shop suggestions to add to my list of cafés to visit when I go to Budapest next month. And I've already visited 23 of the listed countries on four continents, which meant I could compare their suggestions against some of my own lists. I concluded that the recommendations are very well curated, with some really great speciality coffee spots in cities from Paris and Mexico City, to Melbourne and Saigon. One thing I particularly like is that rather than just listing cafés throughout the world that will serve a high-quality but identikit flat white, the guide includes locations that will give you a real taste for the local coffee culture. There's a coffee plantation in Costa Rica, for example (not the farm I visited), while in Tokyo, the wonderful and historical Café de l'Ambra, features in the guide.


Lonely Planet's guides are usually my first port of call when I'm planning a trip (unless the region's guide happens to be very out of date), and I find the inclusion of cafés and coffee shops convenient for key sights in their 'pocket' city guide range very useful. Global Coffee Tour flips that around: several coffee shops are presented for each city, along with a few suggestions for other things to do nearby. This is perfect for people like me, who often plan their travels around the coffee (NB: I always do a lot of research when seeking out a city's best coffee spots), but feel like it would be a waste to visit a new city without seeing anything but the coffee scene. So if you're visiting Tim Wendelboe in Oslo (and you should), you'll know to visit the Munchmuseet and take dinner at Markveien Mat & Vinhus when you're all coffeed out.


The book has lots of photos and it's enjoyable both to browse for coffee-destination inspiration and to search for places for a specific trip. Colombia, Nicaragua and Ethiopia jumped even higher up my travel wish list. One small point for anyone hoping to visit Supercrown in NYC: alas, the wonderful Bushwick coffee shop and roastery has now closed. The only trouble now is that there are even more coffee destinations for me to visit. #coffeebloggerproblems

Disclaimer: Global Coffee Tour was published by Lonely Planet in May 2018. I received a free copy at the launch. The decision to write a review was mine and all opinions here are my own.

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