It must be one of the most distinctive and evocative fragrances in the world: a cup of strong, fresh-brewed coffee. Even more powerful is the smell of roasting coffee, more difficult to encounter nowadays but still a treat in cities in which there are still shops that roast their own beans.
Coffee has been around for quite a while now, since the 15th century in Arabia, the 16th century in Europe, and the 17th century in North America. But it still comes as a surprise to find that many luxury hotels still seem to find it impossible to provide their guests with good, hot coffee at breakfast. By the time the waiter has arrived with the little white pot, the temperature of the liquid inside is at best luke-warm.
There ought to be a guide to 'hotels capable of serving hot coffee.' After all, it's not rocket science. Even the tiniest bar in Italy has an espresso machine that produces fresh, hot coffee, served in cups that are pre-warmed simply by being stored on the top of the espresso machine.
There are lots of types of coffee, and lots of ways of making it. There are a few tips that are good for whatever the beans and machine. For example, keep the coffee maker clean, to ensure that the flavour of the brew is that of the fresh coffee alone.
Purchase fresh-roasted beans regularly: flavour is best when beans were recently roasted and are fresh-ground. Use cold filtered tapwater, if your tapwater tastes alright. Otherwise, mineral water can be used. Use a quality grinder, in which beans are ground (burr grinder) and not chopped.
The grind fineness depends on the method used to brew coffee. Coarse grinding is used for percolators (best avoided if you like good coffee) and cold brewing. The latter system is rather unusual in that the ground coffee is left in cold water for up to 12 hours, gradually filtering down through a felt filter and into a recipient. The resulting brew is less acidic and has a different taste when compared to hot-brewed coffee. It can be heated, or used for iced coffee.
Medium ground coffee is used for French press pots and filter coffee systems. Fine-ground coffee is used for the traditional Neapolitan pot, in which water is heated to boiling, and then the pot is turned over so that the water filters through the coffee into the receptacle underneath. Extra fine grind is used for espresso machines and moka pots.
Finally, if it's cappuccino, the milk should be fresh and unskimmed.
Here are some suggestions on where to get great coffee in some of the LUXOS cities:
Best coffee in London: Workshop
An Australian style cafe where they roast their own beans. The coffee is excellent and the setting, with bare beams and an industrial vibe, is ultra cool.
27 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1M 5RN, Tel: 020 7253 5754, www.workshopcoffee.com
Best coffee in Paris: Fondation Café
Another Antipodean place (their very very good at coffee), this time its teeny tiny and boasts a lovely snack menu in addition to the excellent espressos.
16 rue Dupetit-Thouars, 3e, Paris, www.facebook.com/fondationcafe
Best coffee in Milan: Peck
This tea-room is above the Peck delicatessen is the only place in Milan that understands what you want when you ask for a Barbagliata, an old Milanese blend of cocoa and espresso coffee topped with whipped cream.
Peck, Via Spadari 9, 20123 Milano, tel. +39 02 8023 161
Best coffee in Florence: Caffé Serafini
As well as the usual Italian range of coffees, you could try their Fornacino, in a small glass espresso cup with a little milk froth and chocolate flakes.
Via Gioberti 168r, 50121 Firenze, tel. +39 055 2476 214
Best coffee in Rome: Rosati
With 1920's marble floors and views of Piazza del Popolo with the Pincian Gardens this place serves mind-blowingly good coffee.
4/5a Piazza del Popolo; +39 06 322 7378, +39 06 322 5859; www.barrosati.com
Best coffee in Venice: Torrefazione Marchi
The only place that roasts its own coffee in Venice. Don't go anywhere else.
Torrefazione Marchi, Cannaregio 1337, Venezia, tel. +39 041 710 471.
Best coffee in Madrid: Toma Cafe
Open every day, not far from Gran Via. Excellent coffee, good pastries.
Toma Café, Calle La Palma 49, 28004 Madrid, tel. + 34 917 025 620.
Best coffee in Barcelona: Cafès El Magnífico
Freshly roasted, fresh-ground coffee is used with excellent results. Open Mon-Sat, about 10.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. While some cities (such as Milan) are famed for their bad coffee, Barcelona is famous for the quality of its brews as served in just about all venues.
Carrer de l'Argenteria 64, 08003 Barcelona, tel. +34 933 193 975.
Best coffee in Istanbul: Fazıl Bey’in Türk Kahvesi
Istanbul is a place where coffee is taken seriously, and thankfully there are lots of local traditional coffee shops as well as some international chain outlets. FazÄ±l Bey’in is inside the Kadikoyfood market. Real Turkish coffee is served with a piece of Turkish delight. There is another like-named branch in the Istinye Park shopping mall.
Serasker Cad. No1 A, Kadikoy, tel +90 21 6450 2870. Open every day, 8.00 a.m.–9.00 p.m.
Best coffee in Berlin: Bonanza Coffee Heroes
One of the few places in Berlin that roast their own coffee. Great coffee, good croissants.
Oderberger Straße 35, 10435 Berlin, tel. +49(0)171 5630 795. Open Mon-Fri 8.30 a.m.-7.00 p.m., Sat and Sun 10.00 a.m.-7.00 p.m.
Best coffee in Geneva: Boréal Coffee Shop
Small, excellent coffee, free Wi-Fi, good music, good pastries.
Rue du Stand 60, CH-1204 Genève, tel. 022.310.69.60. Open Mon-Fri 7.00 a.m.-8.00 p.m., Sat and Sun 9.00 a.m.-8.00 p.m.
Best coffee in Zurich: Teecafe Schwarzenbach
Established in 1864, they are still roasting and serving good coffee. Also good for hot chocolate and cheesecake.
Münstergasse 17, Zurich, Switzerland, tel. + 044 2611 380. Open Mon-Fri 8.00 a.m.-7.00 p.m., Sat 9.00 a.m.-5.00 p.m. Closed Sun.
Best coffee in Abu Dhabi: Cafe Arabia
A community café, with books you can borrow, book clubs, writers' groups, art exhibitions, talks and more, in an informal atmosphere on three floors, and a terrace with great views.
Cafe Arabia, 15th Street between 2nd/Airport Road and 24th/Karamah, Abu Dhabi, tel. +971 2 6439 699.
Best coffee in Dubai: Armani Peck
Open every day 11 a.m.-11.00 p.m, serving great coffee in cooperation with Peck (see under Milan above). Even the sugar cubes are branded Armani.
Armani Peck, Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa, tel. 04 8883 444.
Best coffee in Hong Kong: Knockbox
They've just moved to these larger premises after their previous location in Central. Coffee quality is as high as ever.
Knockbox Coffee Company, 21 Hak Po Street, MongKok, Hong Kong. Open every day, 10.00 a.m.-10.00 p.m.
Best coffee in Beijing: Fisheye
Great coffee made from beans sourced from a number of countries. Lots of Lomo photography, free Wi-Fi.
Fisheye Café, S1-18, 1/F Sanlitun Village, 19 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District. Open 10.00 a.m.-10.00 p.m.
Best coffee in Shanghai: Amokka Café
Located in the old French concession, a range of coffee and drinks, breakfast in the morning, right through to lunch and dinner.
Anfu Lu 201, 200040 Shanghai, tel. +86 21 5404 0998. Open every day, 7.00 a.m.-midnight.
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