Book Review: Lonely Planet’s Global Coffee Tour

Are you interested in exploring different types of coffee shops across the globe? Have you ever wondered how to ask for coffee in different countries around the world? If the answer if yes to either of these questions then the Lonely Planet’s Global Coffee Tour book might be a good place to start. When I was younger and had more time to travel for pleasure rather than work, I’d often reach for a Lonely Planet guide when beginning to plan my adventures. This isn’t your typical Lonely planet book focusing on any particular country, but instead is part of the Lonely Planet Food series which provides more of a visual guide of places to visit if your interested in coffee and coffee shops.

Lonely Planet Global Coffee Tour book

I imagine it was a really difficult process deciding which places to include in this book as it would be impossible to provide a comprehensive guide to coffee shops and coffee experiences on a global scale, particularly as the industry changes so much. Nevertheless, the book has managed to select some coffee highlights for a range of countries across the globe, organised in to different regions. There are of course many countries here with rich coffee cultures that aren’t included (Portugal is one example), but the book does well to cover a broad spread of countries with different coffee histories, trends and features.

There is a short helpful glossary at the beginning of the book which would be helpful for any one who is not familiar with some of the terminology. The book is then divided into different regions Africa & the Middle East, The Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. Each country is then introduced with a little about the coffee history or traditions there and key developments in their coffee culture and interesting facts. Some countries also have listed the Top 5 coffees – I find this a little problematic firstly because in many countries just picking five coffees would be near impossible, secondly because these would be likely to change year on year and season to season. Each country also has a section which outlines how to ask for  acoffee in the local language, the signature coffee style, what to order with your coffee (e.g. local baked delicacies). These are very much in keeping with the Lonely Planet style of hints and tips for travellers but I did find some of the ‘How to ask for a coffee in the local language?’ a little amusing. The differences between the English speaking countries for example:

  • Australia: Can I have a (insert coffee preference here)?
  • New Zealand: I’ll have a flat white, thanks mate.
  • UK: I’d like a latte/cappuccino/black coffee, please
  • USA: I’d like a ____ coffee, please (fill in with ultra-specific ordering details, i.e ‘half-caff, no foam, almond milk’.

However, should I find myself in some far flung location, I’m sure I would find the phrases very helpful. So after the introduction to the country each chapter has a number of coffee experiences detailed – these are mostly coffee shops and roasteries,  however there are also a range of other coffee experiences such as visits to local coffee farm, for example the Satemwa Coffee Tour in Malawi, or the Fazenda Santa Margarida in Brazil.

If you were going to use this book as a guide to inform your travels, there are also helpful suggestions of things to do nearby, sometimes major tourist attractions, but also interesting places to eat and drink. It was good to see that the inclusions weren’t always in the capital cities either. In the UK for example there were highlights from Ammanford, Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Brighton, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Falmouth and London.

As someone who is interested in different coffee and cafe cultures around the world I found this book interesting in terms of finding out about some key coffee and cafe highlights in countries I am not as familiar with, and as with many travel books there are lots of nice pictures to make you think about being somewhere else!



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