We are two Kiwis who enjoy traveling around the world experiencing different cultures through the local people and what they eat and drink. We are also keen to minimize our ‘footprint’ on these journeys, so we combine our other hobbies of walking, running and cycling into the traveling mix.
About The Journey
For two weeks in April 2012 we embarked on what could only be described as a grand cafe tour with an emphasis on coffee-tasting. We wanted to find out whether Melbourne is as good as what we had been told. With an open mind and low expectations, we packed our single-speed bikes and based ourselves in South Yarra for two weeks of total immersion. The primary goal was cycling and coffee.
What we discovered only just scratched the surface. However, we did get a glimpse of it’s greatness. There is the passion and commitment to quality coffee by the 20+ cafes we visited. There is also the pure joy and freedom of cycling in the streets and paths of this is awesome city.
In short, we were hugely impressed and overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of the coffee culture. They have certainly raised the bar several levels here and we can honestly say from experience, there is nothing that even comes close anywhere else in Australia or New Zealand or Italy.
We were offered different blends and different single origin beans from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Columbia, Brazil to name a few. Each would have a different flavour characteristic (apparently hundreds more than wine), level of acidity, sweetness, richness, degree of roast etc. We got to sample some very nice brews made from Cup of Excellence (COE) beans, the creme-de-la-creme.
We were offered different ways to brew, not just an espresso. There was siphon, pour-over, clover or cold drip.
And the best part of it all was the passion, enthusiasm and knowledge of the people who made our brews.
I worked one season as a wine educator in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia (Canada) at the top winery. The region boasts over over 100, primarily boutique, wineries. The best part of wine touring was talking with the owner, the grower, the winemaker and the other people behind ‘the bottle’.
This experience has many parallels with the current coffee industry where it’s not about red wine or white wine, but the varietal, the appellation, the single vineyard, the oak barrel fermentation etc.
Here’s a short list of the top picks – The Top Cafes