Traveling has a way of making the mundane memorable. The daily cup of coffee back home, merely a fragrant wake-up to launch the daily drill, becomes a tangible expression of the joy and romance of a place when in, say, Paris. As soon as that plane touches down at Charles de Gaulle, the mission for the first perfect cup of cafe crème begins; or in Rome, it’s the search for the first tiny and potent Illy espresso.
Coffee is rising on the long list of travelers’ priorities — beyond an exalted beverage, it's now joining its sexier siblings in the culinary world of wine and food as an entire subject of exploration. Visits to wineries, olive oil tastings, cooking classes — these are nothing new on most travelers' horizons. But an abundance of fascinating and equally sensorial coffee experiences await. Discover the art of cupping (think winetasting meets coffee) where you examine the nuances of the drink. Watch a berry transform to a green coffee bean and into that fragrant, glossy mahogany-hued bean you think of as coffee. Even try the labor-intensive job of harvesting coffee. These are among the activities available to latte-loving globe-trotters who want to learn more about their favorite drink.
Coffee enthusiasts are finding a growing selection of tailored experiences in the United States and around the world that can build their understanding of and expertise in java. From plantation stays along the equator, where the world's coffee is raised, to brewing the perfect cup in the coffee meccas of Italy and Portland, Ore., and everything in between, the budding barista can get a hands-on education if they know the right places to look. We've scouted out a few of the best coffee experiences in the world that are worth building a trip around. Because just as wine lovers see wine as more than a vehicle for getting tipsy, true coffee connoisseurs love the nuances and complexities of coffee for more than its caffeine jolt.