Love coffee? Love travel? The rising trend of coffee tourism combines the two…
One of the things we love most about coffee is how many people and places it touches.
The journey of a coffee can travel several continents to get to your cup.
For example, the coffee beans could be grown by coffee farmers in Kenya before being roasted at a coffee roastery in Portugal like ours.
And, given that we ship our coffees worldwide, could be enjoyed in a different country or continent.
(For example, we shipped coffee to countries as varied as Israel, the USA and Finland this week alone!)
And, just like that, those African coffee beans have travelled across several time zones and countries before they become the cup of coffee in front of you.
But it’s no longer just coffee travelling to the consumer.
With the rise of agrotourism – including coffee tourism – across the world, many of the best coffee countries are now seeing an increase in tourists travelling to experience coffee at different parts of the production chain.
So, what is coffee tourism and how is it changing the world of coffee?
We’ll take a look at all of that – and some reasons why coffee tourism may just be for you! – in this article.
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What is coffee tourism?
Coffee tourism, at its core, is any kind of tourism that relates to coffee.
Most commonly, it is related to the coffee production process, which involves many stages and nuances.
However, the term ‘coffee tourism’ may also be used to describe travel to destinations for coffee tasting or coffee experiences that do not involve the production of coffee directly.
While many coffee lovers dream of visiting a coffee farm to see the crop being grown, coffee drinkers who aren’t as passionate about specialty coffee or its origins can appreciate a city-based coffee-tasting session or tour.
Let’s take a look at the main types of coffee tourism to see how this looks:
Types of coffee tourism
While there are new types of coffee experiences and coffee-related travel popping up, the main types of coffee tourism fall into four main categories:
Whether you drink espresso-based coffee drinks like latte or cappuccino or prefer your coffee brewed using a filter method like French Press or AeroPress, all coffee starts its life in the same way.
And that’s on a coffee farm!
Coffee lovers have been able to visit the farms where their favourite beverage is grown for a long time, but it’s only in recent years that it’s become more common.
Coffee farm tours are usually offered by local farmers.
During this increasingly popular tourism experience, you’ll receive a full farm tour where you can see the coffee plants and learn about the process of coffee production from those who live and breathe it.
If you’re visiting a family farm, they may also invite you inside to try other family recipes!
Now that coffee farms are being visited more frequently, it’s possible to join larger, organised tours when visiting coffee-growing regions.
However, we recommend that true coffee lovers seek out the small scale farmers who offer independent farm tours for a more intimate experience.
Tours of coffee plantations generally include a coffee-tasting element to the experience.
However, coffee tasting is a popular type of coffee tourism in its own right.
While coffee tours of farms can only be offered by coffee growers, coffee tasting is becoming increasingly popular among coffee roasters and specialty coffee shops all over the world.
Coffee shop owners and roasters regularly offer tasting experiences that can be enjoyed by both locals and foreign visitors.
Each coffee-tasting event is different, but is usually reserved for single-origin coffee.
Most experiences include different types of coffee and of several cups coffee made using different brewing methods for you to compare.
And, since you don’t need to visit a coffee-producing country to enjoy it, you can easily tag this type of coffee tourism onto a non-coffee trip almost anywhere in the world!
Coffee culture tours
Coffee tours are another way to enjoy some coffee adventures on a trip to almost anywhere in the world.
Usually themed around a particular topic, a coffee-themed tour of a city allows you to soak up some of the local coffee cultures and see how the popular beverage is enjoyed by local communities.
Coffee tours can be as diverse as coffee itself, from sampling the best flat whites in Melbourne and having your own design created in 3D latte art in Tokyo, to week-long treks through a coffee route in Ethiopia.
Benefits of coffee tourism
As has been supported by research, the growing industry of coffee tourism can have a multi-faceted and significant impact on those at the heart of it.
Some of the critical roles it plays include:
- Generating additional income for coffee farmers
- Increasing interest in specialty coffees
- Distributing income throughout the year, particularly in coffee destinations where the crop is very seasonal
- Funding other projects in local communities with income generated from coffee tourism
- Raising awareness of environmental issues and promoting more sustainable practices within the coffee industry
Best coffee tourism destinations
So, you’re ready to embark on a coffee adventure – or include coffee more deeply – in your next trip.
But where are the best places to visit for coffee tourism?
By far the most popular – and most established – region for coffee tourism, Central and South American coffee farms produce some of the world’s best coffee and have been welcoming coffee tourists for decades.
There are many different farms and experiences for coffee tourists to enjoy here, from El Salvador and Costa Rica all the way to Peru and Uruguay.
Colombia’s coffee triangle is a particularly popular destination for coffee tourism and offers some of the best coffee farm tours available.
The Minas Gerais region in Brazil, the largest coffee producer in the world, is (unsurprisingly) also a popular spot for coffee enthusiasts.
The Chiapas region in Mexico, while relatively undiscovered until recently, is also becoming a more popular coffee destination for those looking for such tours in Latin America.
Due to climate restrictions, Europe’s coffee production is VERY limited
However, that doesn’t mean our home continent doesn’t know how to make delicious coffees.
Far from it, it’s one of the few regions where you’re rarely far from some great coffee, whether you’re in a busy capital city or a little town on the coast (like Lagos!).
Some of the best coffee shops and roasters in the entire world can be found across Europe, and it’s one of the reasons why we love being based here.
While you won’t find any coffee farm tours in Europe, there are countless ways to enjoy coffee tourism through art, tasting, roasteries and more.
Despite Africa being one of the main coffee-producing continents, coffee tourism is still relatively new (or still unheard of) in most of its different regions.
Countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda are beginning to offer more coffee tours for coffee lovers, but it has a long way to go to catch up with the coffee tourism space in South & Central America.
Still, there is clearly great potential for coffee tourism in Africa and we expect to see it become much more popular in the coming years.
Much of Asia’s coffee production revolves around robusta coffee, and therefore so does its coffee tourism.
Aside from coffee plantation tours, Asia has some of the more unique coffee experiences around the world.
These include enjoying the many unique coffee traditions found here, including the famous Hanoi egg coffee which is made from egg yolk and condensed milk.
It also includes novelty coffee products such as ‘kopi luwak’ – a coffee made from cherries excreted by civets (and one that we do not endorse for its ethical concerns).
Like in Europe, coffee tourism in Asia also extends to the simple experience of drinking coffee. However, in Asia, you’ll find many novelty coffee shops including those that employ 3D latte art designers who can recreate any image you like.
Home of the flat white, Australia is home to some of the best coffee in shops in the world.
Not only are Aussies known for their high coffee standards, but there are companies that grow and roast their own coffee thanks to the country’s unique climate.
For example, Tamborine Mountain Coffee’s crop-to-cup tour takes you from plantation to coffee shop, showing you the entire coffee process in one day!
As you can see, coffee tourism is a popular travel trend that is only set to increase as the entire coffee chain becomes more accessible to tourists and coffee lovers.
Whether you decide to visit a coffee destination or simply want to enjoy coffee in different ways during your planned trips, there are many ways to enjoy coffee tourism.
And, for the times when you can’t travel for coffee, coffee can help bring the world to your home.
P.S… Can’t travel for coffee?
Our coffee subscription is a great way to experience different single-origin roasts from all over the coffee-producing world every month.
We send two different coffees each time, so you can ‘travel’ wide and far in your home coffee consumption, even if coffee tourism isn’t in your plans yet!