Woody whiffs of coffee beans roasting is a weakness for many. If you’re one of those who loves their cuppa’ Joes at all times of the day, then make the most of International Coffee Day today and start planning your trips to these top seven coffee trails in Asia. We bet you’ll have ‘latte’ fun! By Bayar Jain

1. Sumatra, Indonesia

 

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Any coffee trail in the world—and not just Asia—should have Indonesia on its itinerary. Home to the world’s most expensive coffee, Kopi luwak, the Indonesian island literally breeds coffee beans in copious amounts. Also known as civet coffee, the brew’s peculiarity lies in its production. Priced at USD 600 (approximately INR 44,287) for a pound, the precious roasts are a result of partially digested coffee cherries, eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet. However, apart from kopi luwak, Sumatran coffee has many other drastically unique flavours in its kitty as well. Think the nutty and spicy Sumatera Simalungun, the chocolatey Lampung Robusta, smokey Liberica Tungkal Jambi, or aromatic Gayo coffee, among many others.

2. Tây Nguyên, Vietnam

 

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Accounting for almost 80 per cent of the country’s total coffee production, the red basalt soil of the region is ideal to grow beans. It is widely believed that the French introduced the coffee to the Asian nation in 1857, post which the country soon catapulted its productions to raise to one of the top coffee-producing nations in the world. After years of robusta beans harvest, Vietnam has made the once-foreign beans their own and even introduced a drip filter (called a phin) to brew the perfect cup. Over the years, many variations of the drink have sprung up, like Cà Phê Sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee), Sua Chua Cafe (yoghurt coffee) and Cà phê trứng (egg coffee).

3. Bolaven Plateau, Laos

 

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Blessed with a favourable cool climate paired with heavy rainfall, the Bolaven plateau is often touted as a coffee lover’s paradise. The farmers of this landlocked country, however, remain thankful for this blessing and instead resort to small-scale farming techniques as opposed to widespread cultivations. Yet, the average annual harvest yields 25,000 to 30,000 tons of coffee, of which 65 per cent are robusta types. A typical Laotian brew tilts towards the thicker side owing to the use of milk. However, it’s strong flavour is not compromised in any way.

4. Okinawa, Japan

 

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Japanese tea culture needs no introduction, but the country’s love for coffee is worth a mention too. On a larger scale, Japan relies on coffee imports for their brews, but farmers in Okinawa are trying to turn the tides. Prone to typhoons, the agriculturalists of the region have resorted to makeshift greenhouses to harvest coffee beans. But it’s not the coffee-producing aspect of the nation that helps put Japan on a caffeine connoisseur’s itinerary. Instead, it’s the underlying social and societal aspects of it. In an effort to modernise the drink in the country, most cafes started to don an art deco style. However, traditional care is given to each step of the brewing process—akin to the tea culture. Additionally, these shops once doubled as meeting spots for social movements, giving rise to a unique perception of the cafes.

5. Seoul, South Korea

 

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According to estimates, in 2015, there were roughly 49,600 coffee shops in South Korea, out of which 17,000 were in Seoul alone—making the city stand higher than Seattle or San Francisco for per-capita consumption. These mammoth numbers, however, weren’t an overnight spike. In the 1970s, coffee shops doubled as a dating spot and study space among students. During the same time, coffee vending machines also started to make their way into people’s lives. A decade later, the espresso machine entered the Korean borders, and a penchant for Americanos stuck. The fact that the country’s culture proliferates a ‘meeting-at-restaurants’ culture added to the cafes’ expansions. Now, coffee culture has exploded to give rise to an endless variety of coffees and even themed cafes. Plus, the Insta-famous Dalgona coffee traces its roots to South Korea too!

6. Batangas, Philippines

 

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The Philippines is one of the few countries in the world where all four commercially-viable types of coffee are produced, thanks to geographical variations paired with ideal climatic conditions. So important are these beans that Batangas’ economy once heavily relied on these coffee plantations, eventually christening Lipa (a city in the Batangas province) as the country’s coffee capital. The Barako coffee, in particular, is synonymous to the country. The black coffee involves a special procedure where the green beans are boiled first and then roasted for the brew.

7. Kelantan, Malaysia

 

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Over 95 per cent of Malaysia’s coffee plant varietal is the Liberica, although Robusta and Arabica types find a space as well—most of which are grown in the Kelantan region of the country. Despite these popular variations, Malaysian coffee is widely regarded as ‘an acquired taste’, majorly due to its unconventional preparation. Kopi, as it is known locally, is brewed by pouring boiled water through a cloth filter, and then mellowed with sweetened condensed milk. This thick, strong, and bitter concoction—which can be drunk cold or hot, as per preferences—is also known as the Malaysian white roast, owing to its colour.

Related: #TnlSupportsLocal: Five Homegrown Coffee Brands In India For That Perfect Brew