As part of my bid to save money by not buying delicious, expensive, freshly ground coffee from gorgeous little cafes lining the streets and rivers of Luang Prabang, I’ve purchased a cheap bag of instant powder masquerading as coffee.
Whilst sat drinking my sugary hot beverage this morning, I found myself pining nostalgically for coffees that I’ve indulged in over the past few months of travelling. And so, here’s a list of my most memorable cups thus far.
1. Natural Coffee, Kandy, Sri Lanka
After a long day of sightseeing around Sigiriya and Dambulla in the interminable heat, you would’ve thought an ice cold beer was what I was craving. But I was seriously flagging and if I was to make conversation, or indeed just stay awake, for the rest of the evening, I needed something more. So did my friend who had arrived in the country less than 24 hours earlier.
We sought refuge in Natural Coffee and ordered a French press each. Pricey at 400 rupees (roughly £2), I desperately hoped it would be worth the money.
And it was. From the first sip we came alive again. My friend actually started tearing up with happiness.
Don’t be put off by the fairly amateur looking menu. The fair trade coffee is good.
2. Cafe Eh Eh, Vang Vieng, Laos
Proudly flying the Naked Espresso flag, this little cafe away from the hubbub of the bars and backpackers, serves good coffee and incredible cheesecake.
I recently spent two weeks working with the housekeeping team at a nearby hotel, in exchange for free accommodation and food. The iced americano at Cafe Eh Eh got me through many mornings of cleaning. I never understood cold coffee until I tried it here but I became hooked on it: strong black coffee, no sugar and icy cold. Perfect.
3. Gelato Lab, Siem Reap, Cambodia
As well as creating some of the best gelato I’ve ever eaten, this trendy place in the heart of Siem Reap serves good, strong espresso.
After two packed out days seeing Angkor Wat, we spent a leisurely morning here planning for the next part of our trip to Vietnam. Try not to think about your budget (a small cappuccino costs $2.75) and just indulge in the deliciousness of the whole experience.
4. A market stall somewhere in Vientiane, Laos
This bag of sweet, strong, iced coffee weighed as much as a toddler and lasted for three days. It cost 12,000 kip (£1.20). More a dessert than a coffee, it’s probably not the best health-wise, but in terms of price there’s no competition. And it was indeed, delicious, intense and glacial…