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BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 01 Oct '17
On International Coffee Day, check out these dream destinations for coffee connoisseurs
As every true coffee connoisseur knows, there’s a huge variety of beans and blends. From the delicate, gourmet arabica to the strong, grainy robusta, there are loads ways to enjoy a good cup of coffee – whether it’s a bittersweet espresso to kick start your day or an indulgent frappuccino on a lazy Sunday.
Just like coffee, there are many different ways to travel and enjoy a holiday. In honour of International Coffee Day (Sunday 01 October), the meaningful travel experts at Rickshaw Travel have matched up the best destinations to enjoy a perfect cup of coffee.
Smooth yet full-bodied with dark chocolate undertones – If your ideal cup of coffee is flavoursome with an indulgent undertone, then your dream bean likely hails from the volcano-rich soil of the Ijen Plateau in East Java, Indonesia.
Coffee was first introduced to the island of Java in the early 17th century by the Dutch, and from there it was exported to the rest of the world to such aplomb that the word ‘Java’ become synonymous with coffee; today, Java is still a big producer of luxury and speciality coffee.
Beyond the bean, the beautiful Java countryside is known for its shimmering rice paddies and smoking volcanoes. You can visit East Java on Rickshaw’s three-day ‘Hills and Plantations’ trip, where you stay in the tranquil welcoming village of Kalibaru and spend your days exploring the local plantations and taking in the idyllic surroundings.
If you like your travel experiences (and your coffee) relaxed and indulgent, then this is the trip for you.
Light, aromatic and slips down perfectly as you watch the world go by. Peru may not immediately spring to mind when you think ‘arabica blends’, despite the fact that coffee has been grown throughout the land of the Incas since the 1700s – even within the Machu Pichu region itself.
However, it’s not just the quality of its beans that brings Peru to this list. Peru, particularly its cosmopolitan city of Cusco, epitomises café culture and is the perfect destination for all the people-watchers out there.
Firstly, it is a beautiful, bustling metropolis with iconic city vistas of sloping terra cotta rooftops, Inca temples and streets filled with colourful textiles, interesting people and more often than not a llama or two. What better place to soak up the atmosphere and watch the world go by?
Secondly, you will not be short of places to sit and ponder, with several revered coffee shops near the Plaza de Armas alone. Thirdly, Cusco even has a Museo del Café – what more could you possibly wish for?
You can ‘Explore the Cobbled Streets of Cusco’ on Rickshaw’s three-day tour of the same name and experience firsthand what is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and growing café cultures in the world right now.
Nicaragua, Central America
Nutty, sweet and smooth with enough power to keep you going all day – as drinking a sweet cup of coffee in the morning can energise you for a whole day, the production and export of coffee is the driving force of entire ways of life in Nicaragua.
The coffee trade first began in Nicaragua in the mid 1800s, helping to drive economic development and sustain growth. The Nicaraguan coffee trade is unique as it supports over 45,000 families who own and operate small coffee farms. It is these independent family-driven plantations that continue to energise the coffee industry by their passion to produce the best coffee.
Behind each cup lies years of hard work and secrets passed down through generations. Rickshaw’s three-day ‘Wake Up and Smell the Coffee’ tour takes you through the lush green Matagalpa’s Pacsila region, where you can visit a local coffee plantation and see the production process from beginning to end, while learning about some of the socio-economic aspects that lie behind a great cup of coffee.
If you’re a person whose life is fuelled by coffee, and you are interested to see how the export of coffee can transform communities, then this is definitely the trip for you.
Light, bright and a perfect blend of balance and flavour – if one of your greatest dreams in life is to brew and drink the perfect cup of coffee, then chances are you already know what we are about to tell you.
Panama’s coffee production is miniscule in comparison with some of the larger coffee producing countries, however quality – not quantity – is the name of the game in Panama. In fact, it’s renowned for creating some of the best quality coffee in the world, namely the coveted and award-winning Geisha varietal.
Rickshaw’s ‘Coffee Beans in the Countryside’ tour takes you to verdant Boquete (main image), the oldest and best known of Panama’s coffee regions. Spend time exploring the lush green valley, wedged between towering volcanos, where you’ll see that Panama is a country just as unspoiled and exotic as it’s coffee.
You’ll also visit one of Boquete’s famous coffee plantations and get the chance to make your aforementioned dream come true by rolling up your sleeves and roasting some coffee beans yourself, which you can then take home as a souvenir!
If for you the pursuit of a perfect cup of coffee is akin to the search for the Holy Grail, then Panama is the place for you.
Meaningful travel – or travelling in a way that means everybody benefits – allows the traveller to benefit from enriching experiences where they learn something new (about the destination, culture, a skill or about themselves) while the local people, animals and environment benefit, too.
If you want to get off the beaten path and into the heart of communities, have a look at the small-scale, authentic accommodation offered by Rickshaw Travel, which truly reflects the character of each destination.
‘We believe that travel can be of huge social and environmental benefit and we aim not only to minimise the harm that tourism can do, but to go one step further and maximise the benefit.’
Trips are available in 26 destinations across Asia, Central and South America and Africa, including Cuba, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, India, Costa Rica, Peru, Borneo, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Chile, Brazil and Japan.