If I was Jamie Oliver, I’d say they were “best friends”. It kinda gets on my nerves when he does that, so I won’t – but I have been thinking about how coffee and travelling seem to go hand-in-hand. I drink coffee every day at home, so I’m not talking about only drinking it when I’m on holiday, it’s something else about the combination that just seems to go so well together…
I love the anticipation of trying coffee in different countries that I visit. The ritual of enjoying a cup in the morning is even better when you’re waking up in a new place, gazing out the window at a new city and contemplating what adventures the day ahead holds. Coffee seems to be a regular presence in some of my favourite travel memories too…
…in Istanbul it was sitting at a small table in a behind-the-scenes corner of the produce market where the locals who worked there hung out and went to get their tea and coffee fix. It was my first taste of strong, espresso-style Turkish coffee and the first stop on an amazing food tour. I knew I was in for an incredible day.
…in the Maasai Mara it was the flask of fresh Kenyan coffee brought to my tent at 5am each morning as part of my wake up call routine ahead of the morning’s safari. Accompanied by a few simple biscuits to keep me going until a proper breakfast, I took a moment to savour my cup before hurriedly gulping it down as I rushed to get my camera gear together and wrap up warm for the morning drive.
…in a small town near Lake Como I had my first taste of Italian espresso. My friend’s sweet grandmother had just fed us the most delicious lunch in her home and when she asked who would like a post-lunch cup, as a non-coffee-drinker at the time I shook my head and politely declined. I don’t think that was the right answer, because she brought me a cup anyway – as is the tradition – and I wasn’t going to make a fool out of myself twice, so I took the leap and drank it down. I think I can pinpoint this as my first coffee drinking experience that kicked off this love affair.
I also find thoughts of coffee creeping into my daydreams about future travel plans. When I’m picturing waking up bright and early at a campsite in Yellowstone I think about the crisp air, beautiful light and then my mind strays to thinking about firing up the camp stove to make a cup of joe. Or I think about getting up before sunrise on a trek to photograph the day’s first light: I imagine myself getting rugged up, setting up my tripod and then my thoughts stray to the little thermos of coffee next to me to keep me company.
Back at home and wandering through Sainsbury’s I even find that choosing coffee is a travel inspired moment. Standing in the supermarket, weighing up the options: Nicaragua, Colombia, Kenya, New York, Costa Rica. Am I the only one who picks their coffee based on where I wish I could travel to that day? After I got back from Kenya, I went for months buying only the Kenyan coffee, like I was hanging on to and reliving a tiny little piece of that incredible trip somehow.
Maybe I’m just completely addicted. Or perhaps it’s because I only started drinking coffee since moving to London that it’s become so closely tied to this season of my life where I’m travelling more regularly.
It’s probably a combination of both those things, but it still feels like there might be something else to it: coffee and travel might just be some perfect combination that inspire and enhance the experience of one another. Like best friends.
Is coffee a big part of the travel experience for you too or is it just me?