We love coffee!!! When traveling it’s the one thing that many people don’t want to give up. During our 20 months in South Asia we had a lot of coffee in many different cities and kept track of the best. No longer do you have to suffer with awful instant coffee, typical in Asia. We created this guide to help fellow travelers find the perfect cup of coffee on their trip to South Asia.
Part one: Sri Lanka, India, Nepal
We usually had Americano or, if not available, French Press so reviews are based on those drinks. We didn’t list prices as these will change but tried to give an idea of price compared to others in that area. (Foolishly) we are not making revenue from these coffee shops. ( $ cheap, $$ mid-range, $$$ North American prices)
Find your perfect cup in many Sri Lankan cities, listed in alphabetical order.
Banana Cafe $$
Location: Freeman Mawatha, Anuradhapura down the street from Pizza Hut.
This small, air-conditioned café serves decent Americano at a good price. Their menu also includes a lot of ice cream and cold drinks. The staff are very friendly as they make the ice cream deserts right in front of you.
Location: Main Street, Arugam Bay (at the southern end of town)
A tiny café with very good coffee, snacks and desert. It’s air conditioned and has very good Wi-Fi.
Café Mocho by Barista $$$ Location: 28 Stratfor Ave, Colombo in Havelock Town
This modern café has good coffee and breakfasts, but prices are quite high. It’s one of the only alternatives if you’re staying in Havelock Town. Wi-Fi is good, it’s air-conditioned and nicely furnished. Seating is spaced well apart, so it feels more relaxing and private.
Gem & Berries $$$
Location: 106 Ella – Passara Rd, Ella, on the way to Little Adam’s Peak
There are many coffee shops and restaurants in Ella, but most serve only average quality food and drinks. Gem & Berries has excellent Americano, but cups were small, and it was quite pricey. It has a lovely outdoor patio in this new building. Breakfast options are limited, but food is quite good.
Heritage Café and Bistro $$$
Location: 61 Pedlar St, Galle
Set in a lovely colonial building, this large restaurant has inside and outside seating on the old-style veranda. The Americanos are great, but a little small. Pricing is the same as other cafes in the Fort. They have an extensive food menu, but we just had coffee.
The Coffee Shop $
Location: Galle Rd, Hikkaduwa, at the eastern end of town
A casual, small café with indoor and outdoor seating serves great Americano and breakfast at a good price. Service is a little disorganized, but the family that runs it is very friendly. There’s no air-conditioning but Wi-Fi is good.
Yolo Café $
Location: 115 Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha, Kandy (next to a great hotel ‘Queen’s Mount’)
This small, locally run coffee shop has great Americano at a great price. They have a small, but delicious menu for breakfast, lunch or desert. Portions were a little on the small side thoguh. Wi-Fi is very good and is air-conditioned. The owner is very friendly and helpful.
Maggie’s Roti Shop $
Location: Matara Rd, on the eastern side of town
Surprise, surprise, the rustic cabin style shop has very good Americano at a great price. Seating is open-aired, and cooling is by a fan, but it didn’t seem too hot. There’s no Wi-Fi either.
Starbeans $$$ Location: Matara Rd
This chain café serves consistently decent Americano, but at a fairly steep price. The modern-style café is air-conditioned and has good Wi-Fi.
Aloha Coffee $$$
Location: 6 Sunanda Road, Weligama/Mirissa
You’ll need to use your GPS to find this trendy open-air café. It was always very busy when we were there and the long table with bench seating was not the best for a couple, but they had good coffee. Prices were fairly high, but the lunch menu was fresh and healthy.
Dolce Vita $$
Location: No: 27 Porutota Rd, Negombo
Seating is outdoor at this casual Italian restaurant. They have very good Americano at a reasonable price. Their Italian food is also delicious. Some tables have fans, but it can get hot without, even under the shade. They have great Wi-Fi.
Bacco Wine Bar $$
Location: 63 Porutota Rd, Negombo
Located a few steps away from Dolce Vita, we were surprised to get a decent Americano at a fair price on the beach, It can get quite hot mid-day. They have pretty good pizza and pasta for a Sri Lankan restaurant. Wi-Fi is good.
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf $$$
Location: Park Ln, Negombo
This chain restaurant serves consistently good coffee but at a higher price than Dolce Vita or Bacco. It’s air-conditioned, nicely furnished and has great Wi-Fi.
Coffee Bar Grand Hotel $$$
Location: 5 Grand Hotel Rd, Nuwara, (just before the Grand Hotel)
A small upscale coffee shop with decent coffee, but a little pricey. They have a small menu with sandwiches and deserts. The café is air-conditioned, and they have Wi-Fi. but it’s very slow.
Araliya Green City Food Court $$
Location: No 01 Glen Fall Road, Nuwara Eliya
This restaurant has a strange set up that looks like a food court at a mall but acts like a restaurant. The Americano is decent, and the price is reasonable. They have a large menu serving many ethnic foods. It’s air-conditioned and the Wi-Fi is slow if it works.
Cute Café $$
Location: Main Road, Sigiriya
This tiny café is run by a lovely lady and has great coffee and yummy deserts at a fair price. It’s open air, but does have fans to keep you cool.
Herman’s Coffee Shop $
Location: Vijaya Rd, Tangalle
The tiny coffee shop has only 4 tables in an open garage-style box, but the owner makes one of the best Americanos in Sri Lanka. It’s fan cooled, but in the small space it seems to be enough. Service can be slow, but you’re at the beach, slow-down. Herman is very friendly and plays his guitar when it’s quiet. Prices are good, and coffee comes with a free cookie!
Café on 18th $$
Location: Sarvodaya Rd, Trincomalee
A laid-back owner and atmosphere that serves the best coffee that we could find in Trinco. They have a small but good menu for breakfast or lunch. There’s no air-conditioning but they have plenty of fans and good Wi-Fi.
Click on the state to find the best coffee: Andaman Islands, Bihar, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Ladakh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Puducherry, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttarpradesh, West Bengal
Full Moon Café $$
Location: Dive India Resort
This excellent restaurant is attached to the Dive India Resort. They serve up delicious food and a pretty good cup of coffee. They have a full menu serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Prices are very reasonable and it’s just off the beach.
Be Happy Cafe Bodhgaya $$$
Location: Kalachakra Ground, Bodhgaya
This great café is run by a Canadian woman. The baking is delicious and you can tell it was baked by a westerner. The coffee is also very good, but a bit pricier than we were expecting. It’s also one of the cleanest restaurants with a very clean washroom. WIFI is good and it’s air-conditioned.
Crystal Goa Onyx $
Location: Palolem Down St, Palolem
A small café in a cute hotel, they have great Americano and western breakfast for cheaper than most places in Goa. It’s outside seating only with no A/C, but seating is under a partial roof so there is shade. WIFI is quite good.
The Caravela Café & Bistro $$
Location: 27 – 31’st January Road, Panjim (Panaji)
A friendly restaurant in a traditional Portuguese building, they serve very good Americano and excellent meals. Their prices are reasonable and are based on the type of coffee bean you chose. Its set in an old Portuguese building with lots of character. They have air-conditioning and good WIFI.
Bombay Coffee $$
Location: De Janeira Rua 31, Panjim (Panaji)
A trendy café with cheap, but weak coffee. Baked goods are quite good and WIFI is very good. It’s a good place to hang out as it’s air-conditioned, but don’t count on a great cup of coffee.
Traveler’s Shed $$
Location: Khasra No-145,Near Patwari Khana, Kaza
The small restaurant is on the ground floor and a hostel is on the floors above. They have the best coffee for a fair price, but don’t have a generator for the frequent black outs. They have one of the best Wi-Fi in the town, but that’s not saying much as they’re all pretty slow. There’s also a small menu with breakfast, lunch and dinner. The meals are average.
Hotel Deyzor $$$
Location: Behind BSNL Office, Kaza
This busy restaurant has the best food in Kaza. The brewed coffee is average and everything is priced quite high. Service is excellent and they make it feel very up-scale.
River Music Garden and Restaurant $
Location: Near Old Manali Bridge
Far from being trendy, this open-air restaurant offers the best Americano at the cheapest price. Their breakfast, lunch and dinner options are also very good at a great price. Its Wi-Fi is awful and it’s at the bottom of the hill away from the majority of hotels, but a table by the river and a good cup of coffee is worth the walk.
Dylan’s Toasted and Roasted Coffee House $$
Location: Manu Temple Road, Old Manali
This trendy, small coffee shop is always full. The Americano is good as are breakfast and lunch dishes. Its prices are reasonable, but it’s often hard to find a seat. Wi-Fi is very good.
Drifter’s Café $$$
Location: Manu Temple Road, Old Manali
A nice wood interior, but not so comfy chairs, the food at Drifter’s Café is very tasty, the Americano is good, but pricey. Wi-Fi is very good.
Café Budan $$
Location: Jogiwala Road, Mcleod Ganj
We love this small café. They serve a great Americano and yummy breakfasts for a good price. It’s further from the Tsuglagkhang Complex so isn’t as hectic. The owner is very nice and service is great.
Moonpeak Espresso $$
Location: Near the entrance to temple, McLeod Ganj
This small cafe has a great location close to the temple. They have good coffee as well as a good menu with fresh sandwiches and Indian options. Because its so close to the Tsuglagkhang Complex, it’s often busy.
The Old House $$
Location: 451 Jlb Road, Mysuru (Mysore)
With indoor A/C or outdoor seating, this café has a really nice, clean décor. The Americano is very good and the pizza will help with your western food craving. They have quite a few vegetarian choices. We tried other cafes but kept returning to The Old House for the food and the coffee. Wi-Fi is good.
Gopi Guest House $
Location: Janathay Plot, Hampi
Located on the upper floor with a roof top patio, the guest house’s restaurant isn’t fancy, but they serve espresso and a good breakfast. You have to tell them to bring a mug and boiled water, so you can make your own Americano. The rooftop patio has one of the best views around. It’s a good option if you’re staying on this side of the river. There’s no A/C.
Gouthami Restaurant $$
Location: On ‘hippie island’
A large, open-air restaurant with not much for décor, they make a pretty good Americano. If you’re staying on this side, it’s the best option, but it’s not worth the ‘ferry’ ride just for the coffee.
Café Paradiso Espresso Coffee Bar $
Location: Near Foot Bridge, Hanuman Temple Road, Alappuzha (Alleppey)
This small shop has only outdoor seating beside the canal, so it can be hot, but it’s under the shade of the large trees so it’s not too bad. The Americano is excellent and good choice of western breakfasts including yogurt with muesli and fruit.
Upstairs Italian Coffee Shop $
Location: Bastian St, opposite Santa Cruz Basilica, Fort Kochi
On street level, Upstairs Italian has a small café serving breakfast. Their Americano is very good and their prices are lower than most places in the Fort area. Breakfast isn’t fancy, but our meals were very good. Their Wi-Fi is good, but there’s no A/C, just a fan.
Loafer’s Corner $$$
Location: A 351, Princess St, Opp. Park Avenue Hotel, Fort Kochi
This funky café has awesome coffee and a great atmosphere. They hand grind the coffee right in front of you. It’s expensive, but is air-conditioned and has good Wi-Fi.
Yama Coffee $$
Location: The end of Changspa Road
There are a lot of coffee shops in Leh, but Yama coffee has the best coffee for the best price. Their western menu has tasty, lunch and breakfast options. The Wi-Fi is the best in town. They have generators, but can’t always offer Wi-Fi or espressos when the power is down.
My Café $$$
Location: Main Bazar, Leh
Our second favourite coffee shop in Leh is My Café. The Americano is very good and their baked goods almost feel like home. It’s more expensive than Yama though probably because it’s located on the pedestrian mall.
Korean Restaurant $
Location: Look for signs, it’s just off main street in Padum
We weren’t expecting to find a cute place with good coffee in Padum so were so surprised when we found the Korean Restaurant. Run by a local man and his Korean wife, they serve espresso coffee and tasty desserts and snacks of western and Korean food.
Oh Dough $$
Location: 6 Abdul Rajak Allana Marg, Fort, Mumbai
Come here to satisfy your cookie cravings. This small café has good Americano to wash down their amazing cookies. Prices are mid-range for a specialty bakery, but be prepared to pay more than the usual Indian bakery, but it’s worth it. The café has A/C.
1441 Pizzeria Fort $
Location: No. 5 ground floor, 58/64, SB Patil Rd, Fort, Mumbai
We stopped at 1441 Pizzeria by accident, but were pleasantly surprised at the quality and serving size of their Americano. The pizza was average, but we returned the next day for a reasonably priced cup of coffee near the fort. It is air-conditioned with good Wi-Fi.
The Pantry $$$
Location: Ground Floor, Military Square Lane, Fort, Mumbai
Highly rated, but over priced. The food and coffee were good, but not good enough for the price. It has nice, open, clean décor so is a great place for a break. It is air-conditioned with good Wi-Fi.
Café Bliss $$
Location: 6 Gangapur Road, near Jehan Circle, Nashik
This is the only restaurant we could find that served a decent cup of coffee. The coffee is good and so is the western food, and it’s probably the only place in town with espresso. It’s a very clean café has a lot of windows so plenty of light and AC. Wi-Fi is good
Honey Bee Bakery & Pizzaria $$
We were so happy to find this little gem in the small town of Puri. The friendly owners make great coffee, western breakfast and lunch including decent pizza. It’s a little pricey, especially compared to elsewhere in town, but they have no competition.
Café Ole $$$
Location: 319 Mission St, Puducherry
This small café in the French Quarter serves excellent Americano but prices are high. The menu has mostly sandwiches so a little different for breakfast, but they are quite tasty.
Baker Street $$$
Location: No 123 Rue Bussy Street, Pondicherry
This large bakery/café has a long counter filled with European-style pastries and sweets. The Americano is good and the pastries were the best we had in India. Not quite flaky, but close. It’s pricey though.
Nibs Café & Chocolataria $$
Location: C-52, Shivanand Marg, Lane 1, Raja Park, Jaipur
The Americano at Nibs is very good and the pasta is fantastic. It was the best pasta we had in our 20 month trip. We returned a couple of times for both the coffee and the pasta. This café was close to our hotel but is a bit off the tourist area. There are a few locations in the city and they most likely all have similar coffee and food. It has a great atmosphere, is air-conditioned and has Wi-Fi.
Wind View $$$
Location: 3rd Floor Opposite Hawamahal, Jaipur
You definitely need to visit this café for the view of Hawa Mahal. The Americano was average, price was high, but the balcony gives you a great view.
Traveller’s Cup Premium $$
Location: Opposite Sun Temple, Vyasa Para, Jaisalmer Fort
This small café is inside a bookstore. The Americano is very good and so is the food. We loved the paranthas, made by the owner’s mom. Its run by two friendly brothers. It’s air-conditioned and has good Wi-Fi.
Kuku Coffee Shop $$$
Location: Near Hari Om Jewellers, Chougen Para, Jaisalmer Fort
This new café has outdoor rooftop seating only with awesome views. It’s a small café but the plans are to expand. The owner is very friendly. The Americano is very good, but it’s priced higher than other cafes in town for the same size.
Café Sheesh Mahal $$
Location: Lakhata Bazaar Road, Opposite the Clock Tower, Jodhpur
This is a great café. It has a good people watching view of the street, awesome Americano and good food. The menu is mostly well prepared western snacks. The man who runs it is very friendly. It’s so good we didn’t even try anywhere else. It’s very clean and has A/C and very good Wi-Fi.
Café La Camida $$
Location: 81 Gangaur Ghat Marg, Udaipur
This laid-back café has good Americano and in a larger mug than other cafes in town. The muesli yogurt was very good, but other food was average. Wi-Fi was good and its air-conditioned.
Café Edelweiss $$$
Location: 73 Gangaur Ghat, Udaipur
A small café and bakery with good, but small Americano. The baking is average, they have a small breakfast menu, but we didn’t try any food. There is no A/C, but there are large ceiling fans
The Coffee Shop $$
Location: MG Marg Mall, Gangtok
Although a lot of places in India whose name is The Coffee Shop don’t actually sell coffee, this one does and it’s pretty good. It’s a large, clean restaurant, serving mostly Indian dishes.
Café Coffee Day $$$
There are Café Coffee Day locations throughout Chennai. They offer consistent, good Americano. They’re not the best, but not the worst. Their prices are a little high though so we only go to them when we can’t find anything else. There aren’t usually many options for food but their new Lounge cafes have more food on the menu. There are a few local coffee shops in Chennai, but the city is very large and if they’re not in your neighborhood, it’s difficult to get to them.
Joe’s Café $$$
Location: No.5 Othavadai cross street, Mammalapurumm (Mahabalipuram)
This casual open-aired coffee shop is busy for a reason. They have good coffee, great breakfasts and their prices are reasonable. It was a treat to have real brown-bread toast.
Tan Café $$
Location: 4A, Selvam Nagar, Medical College Road, Thanjavur
This clean diner serves basic Americano and westernized sandwiches and pastas. It’s not the best coffee you’ll have, but in this part of Tamil Nadu, it’s one of the only places that has an espresso machine.
Café Coffee Day $$$
There are Café Coffee Day locations throughout Hyderabad as well as other chains such as Starbucks. It will really depend on where you stay in the city as to which you chose. Cafe Coffee Day offers consistent, good Americano. They’re not the best, but not the worst. Their prices are a little high though so we only go to them when we can’t find anything else. There aren’t usually many options for food but their new Lounge cafes have more food on the menu.There are a few local coffee shops in Hyderabad but the city is very large and if they’re not in your neighborhood, it’s difficult to get to them.
Café Coffee Day $$$
Location: Near Har Ki Pouri
We try to visit locally run coffee shops when we can, but we couldn’t find any thing in Haridwar. Café Coffee Day has consistently good coffee, but at North American prices. They’re food menu is limited.
Ira’s Kitchen and Tearoom $$
Location: Tapovan, Rishikesh
A great little café that is always busy because their coffee and food is so good with many healthy options. The staff are very friendly, and service is very good. Prices are very reasonable. After we discovered this gem, we went everyday for breakfast and coffee.
Devraj Coffee Corner $$$
Location: Beside Lakshman Jhula, Rishikesh
This café has large picture windows with a great view over the Ganges. The coffee is good, but the baking is typical Indian version of western baking. The prices are also quite high.
Unfortunately Agra has not caught on to the coffee culture. There are a couple of Costa Coffees and Café Coffee Days, but it will be instant or poorly brewed coffee everywhere else.
Open Hand Shop & Café $$
Location: Near Assi Ghat, Varanasi
This cute café with delicious Americano in large mugs. They also have yummy sandwiches and salads as well as western breakfasts. this was our number one choice in Varanasi. They have A/C and Wi-Fi and indoor or outdoor seating.
Location: 52 Plot No near Assi Ghat, Varanasi
This modern, clean café serves good Americano and western breakfasts with lots of vegetarian choices. The coffees are a little smaller than Open Hand Café, which is across the street. They have good Wi-Fi.
Himalayan Java $
Location: 10 Nehru Rd, Chauk Bazaar, Darjeeling
A bright, clean café serving good Americano at a fair price. The Wi-Fi is good for Darjeeling and it’s a nice place to hang out. They have a small menu with mostly breakfast options and baking.
Coffee Ghar $
Location: Paknajol Marg, near Famous Traveler’s Hub Hostel
There are many options for good coffee in Thamel, but Coffee Ghar is one of the best. They have very good Americano, a few baked goods, A/C and Wi-Fi. Their food menu is small, but the coffee is the best.
French Bakery $
Location: Paknajol Marg, Kathmandu
Not only do they have great coffee, but the food menu is fantastic with many vegetarian options. It`s a small, clean cafe with only a few tables., but service is good and we always found a seat.
Perky Beans $
Location: Hallan Chowk, Pokhara
Pokhara also has many options for espresso, but the coffee at Perky Beans is the best and at a good price. Because it’s so good, they recently expanded their space to include more seating and a good rooftop patio. They also have great, healthy breakfasts.
Coming up next: A Guide to the Best Coffee Shops in Asia, Part 2
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