Here at Exsus we are dreaming about the perfectly micro-foamed flat white and that elated boost of motivation from a strong filter. If, like us, you want to mix everything with travel, why not have that delicious first sip lounging in the treetops of Costa Rica, wriggling your toes in the sandy beaches of Indonesia, or watching the sunrise across Kenya's thundering plains? For the perfect pairing, the only question you need to ask yourself is: how do you like your coffee?
Costa Rica - simple and balanced with a medium body
With perfect conditions of fertile soil, high altitudes and a cool climate, the Arabica coffee plant took root in Costa Rica’s Central Valley at the end of the 1700s and has since flourished. As you travel around the country, you can revel in the coffee-scented fields that spread out, like green and brown mosaics, across the hillsides. Dive into one of the world’s most successful producers and stop in Monteverde for a delicious ‘pick-me-up’. Take a tour with Café Monteverde as you walk between the rows of neatly planted coffee, pluck the cherries from the bushes and sample some of the recently roasted beans.
An art work in itself, the beautiful Finca Rose Blanca offers rooms decorated with hand painted murals and beds made out of coffee wood. Once you've acclimatised to the Gaudi-esque interiors, head to your private balcony and cast your eyes towards the horizon to see superb views of the nearby volcanoes and coffee plantations. One of our favourite hotels, you can take an in-depth coffee tour of the hotel’s organic sustainable coffee farm.
Colombia - heavy mouthfeel, like cream, with a floral and nutty aroma
Colombia earned its reputation for high-quality beans long ago. With tropical temperatures and high altitudes providing the perfect natural environment, thousands of small family farms across the country have managed to maintain their crops with incredible care and attention, resulting in consistently good, mild blends. A special shout-out to Colombia Supremo, which is grown on the foothills of the Armenia and Medellin mountain ranges, where it is fermented for 30 hours, washed and then dried in the sun, producing a beautifully delicate cup with a smooth finish.
Ranking third in yearly production worldwide, explore Colombia’s Coffee Triangle, or Zona Cafetera, with its misty fertile hills, valleys ideal for a horse ride, and thermal springs just waiting to be jumped in. Located in the central coffee region, the fairytale Hacienda San Jose offers quiet vintage colonial accommodation with hearty Colombian cuisine complemented by the local brew.
Brazil - medium bodied with very low acidity and milk chocolate hints
The biggest coffee producer in the world, Brazil supplies an enormous internal and external market with its Arabica and Robusta beans. In 2014 alone, Brazil exported 45 million 60kg bags of beans, which is two times the export of the entire African continent. A seemingly endless expanse of land is dedicated to the cherry producing plant, which in turn needs an entire army of people (around 3.5 million) to manage and operate the fields. Coffee first took hold of Brazil in the 18th century when French settlers brought the plant from Ethiopia. Planting started in the north and concentrated on areas along the shore and by the 19th century, Brazilian coffee was the number one in both European and American cups, a position that it has held for the last 150 years.
A fine cup of Brazilian is clear, sweet and has very low acidity, and often boasts some chocolate and caramel notes. What better way to enjoy this refreshing brew than from the heart of Brazil’s coffee region, Minas Gerais? Justifiably famous for its delicious cuisine, stay at the Reserve do Ibitipoca, where you can bask in the cosseting spa, explore the extraordinary surroundings by horseback and 4x4 or venture further into the state to experience the charming historical town of Tiradentes.
Zimbabwe - a woody, medium body, with low acidity and spicy hints
Being a superpower in the coffee industry requires years of economic, infrastructural and government investment and stability, a bean-friendly terroir and farmers dedicated to quality control. Before the turn of the century, Zimbabwe was known to have super-high quality coffee and provided some of the world’s best- slowly sun-dried, the smooth texture and spicy flavours showcased some of Africa’s finest blends. As the dust settles across Zimbabwe’s political turmoil, we are now seeing some quality samples from last year’s harvest emerge and we can’t wait for Zimbabwe to get back on track with its coffee production.
Though it’s tricky to find Farfell coffee in the UK, back in Zimbabwe the locals happily drink it for breakfast, so snuggle up in The Hide, in the wildlife-mecca of Hwange National Park, and sip a warming cup after an early game drive, as you look over the very popular water hole - the life force of the area.
Kenya - complex with high acidity making it zesty, citrusy and herbal
Not only the location of the greatest migration in the world, but also home to a fascinating culture and stunning scenery, Kenya is an absolute gem. Though most think of safari holidays when they think of Kenya, its diversity is off the chart, with fantastic beaches and diving on the coast, world-class accommodation in the Masai Mara and more activities in the Great Rift Valley than you can shake a stick at. Blanketing the foothills of the towering Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest tallest point, Kenya’s coffee makes a strong stand in the industry, with its sharp, citrus acidity and a rich fragrance. Often grown by small farmers, there is a lot of emphasis placed on quality and as a result, the coffee is, in most cases, assigned the grade AA (the largest bean size, which is associated greatly with coffee quality and flavour).
Combining safari, culture and coffee, stay at Giraffe Manor, a delightful country manor house just outside of central Nairobi, to experience the long-necked animals popping their heads through the window at breakfast, before walking through the green rows of Kenya’s fine coffee crop on a day trip to Mount Kenya.
Ethiopia - an earthy, full body with a busy flavour of chocolate and cherries
Part biblical, part fairytale, Ethiopia belongs to an atlas of the imagination, with its breathtaking landscapes and colourful cultures. With rituals that haven't changed in centuries, coffee making is a large part of Ethiopia’s culture. Legend has it that coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia, which is not hard to believe as it has thousands of varieties of coffee beans threaded throughout the country. The primary growing regions are Sidamo, Harrar and Kaffa, and each region tends to harvest a coffee with a remarkable and bold taste: full-bodied, earthy and full-flavoured.
Start your tasting tour in the Yod Abyssinia Cultural Restaurant, where you can feast your eyes on the colourful authentic dishes of Doro Wat, Gomen Be Sega and Kitefo - tribal stews served on injeras, a spongy pancake made from the local cereal 'tef’. After watching the singers and dancers perform, accompanied by traditional musical instruments, get ready for the main event, where Ethiopian coffee is prepared in a traditional ceremony over a charcoal fire. Delve into the surrounding flavours of the treasured drink before settling down for the evening in the elegant Sheraton Addis Hotel.
Indonesia - creamy flavour complemented by a full body and low acidity
Introduced by Dutch colonists in the 17th century, coffee growing is greatly instilled across Indonesia's archipelago. With the majority grown on small farms averaging around one hectare, it is estimated that 2 million smallholders, living in often remote villages, dominate the crop production. Indonesian coffees are noted for a rich, full body, but it is the fine aged coffees that have the caffeine addicts interested. Beans, held back by farmers who wanted to sell at a higher price, have been gently aged by the warehouses they were kept in, resulting in an even deeper body, a process that cannot be matched by technology.
To sample this incredible coffee, travel around the larger islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi, which are known for their fine quality coffee. For a sailing and diving holiday of a lifetime, board the magnificent Tiger Blue, a traditional 34-metre crewed yacht which sails around the islands of the Komodo National Park, the Spice Islands and Raja Ampat, a collection of over 1,500 islands. With fishing, kite-surfing, water-skiing, snorkelling and scuba diving, that strong cup of coffee will certainly help towards keeping active.
Vietnam - strong and flavoursome with buttery and caramel notes
Think of coffee and you’ll probably think of Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil and Kenya, but with 20% of the market share, Vietnam is now the second largest producer of coffee in the world. Traditionally tea drinkers, the Vietnamese sometimes like condensed milk or yoghurt with their coffee, or a cappuccino made with egg, but the majority of the harvest is exported to the USA and Germany. For something a little different, try the Robusta bean in Hanoi, the undisputed centre of café culture in the country. Serving all-day coffee and pastries, stay in the theatrical and bohemian Hotel de l’Opera - perfect for opera buffs, culture vultures and those obsessed with coffee.