Coffee might have come from South America but some of it’s fondest admirers are a long way away. Europeans have been obsessed with coffee for centuries and a culture of exacting baristas, and trendy coffee houses have sprung up alongside universities in many cities.
Barcelona has been drawing scientists through the doors of its university since the 15th century and the spirit of inquiry is alive and well on the Catalan capital’s streets. The fresh approach extends from the university in Eixample into the Gracia District, full to bursting with modern, concept cafes and boutique coffee roasters.
Amsterdam’s Centrum district plays host to the research heavyweight University of Amsterdam as well as a solid population of modern, ex-warehouse style cafes that turn their industrial past into a virtue with huge skylights and industrial-chic coffee plungers.
Paris is possibly the original for cafe culture. Between Les Deux Magots and the Black Cat, the cafes in Paris have been the territory of artists, philosophers, and revolutionaries for centuries. For a good atmosphere close to many of the Sorbonne buildings, try the cafes in the 7th arrondissement, near the Musée D’Orsay.
Gothenburg is home to Sweden’s largest University and that concentration of brainpower can’t function without refreshment. Head for the Haga area for a coffee break on cobble-stoned streets among friendly locals. If you’re lucky you might come across a cinnamon ‘snail’ pastry too.
Rome’s cluster of universities is an attraction for hordes of scientists and academics from around the world. Once they get there, they are well-served throughout the city for espresso but especially in the upmarket but quirky Monti district.
Lisbon is a beautiful city and its hills and parks are wonderful for inspiration. If you find that a civilized resting spot helps the cogs of your brain turn smoothly then jump on the Metro to the Chiado district where refined cafes can offer modern Portuguese cuisine alongside your coffee, served in sophisticated surroundings.
Vienna’s cafes are not for those on a diet. The coffee houses are institutions almost as ancient as the university. These days they remain a semi-formal environment to enjoy a well-crafted cup of coffee and a dark chocolate Sachertorte in peace.
Cafe culture is woven into the fabric of Budapest. For the classic experience, leave the University and head north along the banks of the Danube until you arrive at the foot of Castle Hill. On your way up, you will find Gerbaud and New York Cafe, bastions of the traditional approach to coffee in one of the world’s top coffee consuming nations.
Prague’s Charles University has been a center of knowledge since the 14th century but more recently its members have been able to enjoy the benefits of the unique cafe culture. In Prague, a coffee house and a high-level patisserie are expected to come together under one roof. For the epitome of the luxurious Czech tradition, head for La Boheme cafe. It’s so close to the university, you will have trouble staying away.
Madrid is littered with pleasant coffee spots but the hipster Chueca district is the home of the most contemporary cafes and the trendiest places for a casual meet up. Conveniently for students and scientists working for the university, you can get there via the Universidad metro station.
Consider and caffeinate all at once in a city that meets your needs perfectly.