For a minute there, we forget that we are in the tree-lined Soi Sukhumvit 26 of Phrom Phong. We are transported from humid Bangkok to summery Tokyo: all natural light and blonde woods and… bicycles?

Sora City is a bicycle company first and foremost, specialising in their own brand of functional and beautiful city bikes. Their vintage-style two-wheelers are all minimalist in design, inspired by the Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetic. All clean lines, just like the café itself. Stylish bicycle frames, saddles, helmets and accessories abound.

The Swedish adage “Vackrare vardagsvara” – meaning “Something beautiful for every day” – captures the ephemeral spirit of this lovely café perfectly. (“Sora” or 空 means “sky” in Japanese, hence their cloud-shaped logo.) So consider this a bicycle shop that serves coffee rather than a coffee shop that sells bicycles. Either way, Sora City does both well.

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Sometimes good things can happen when things go wrong.

There we were, at our hotel lobby, wondering what to eat and where to go, when it started drizzling. A full rainstorm would ensue later, but since we were in the Bugis heritage area, there was still time to wander around and check out options closer to the hotel.

(Plus, this is Singapore. It’s not exactly the largest place in the world.)

As luck would have it, barely a couple of minutes away by foot, we found a café nestled at the corner of a row of refurbished shophouses. Enter Curious Palette at Prinsep St.

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Groningen is a northern university town, right at the end of the railway line from Amsterdam that passes through Assen (another small Dutch town, one we have history with but that’s a separate story). A beautiful and vibrant place with student life upping its youth factor.

Is it any wonder the sole specialty coffee bar here – Black & Bloom – would also be a haven for young people from around the world gathered at the communal table, each chattering in their own languages. You’d think you were in London or Bangkok, by the sheer concentration of different nationalities.

Founded in 2012 by Gerben Engelkes, who was previously with local franchise Coffee United, Black & Bloom offers a house blend called BlackJack and various filter coffees. The beans used in the blend and for the filter coffees never stay the same and depend on what are in season.

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Sometimes it’s good to know what to expect before you even arrive at your destination.

Such was the case with Casa Lapin x26, the fourth branch of the Bangkok-based café company that we’ve visited in recent years. (And because we enjoy staying in the Phrom Phong neighbourhood, this is the branch we tend to return to time and again.)

With coffee beans sourced from Thai roasters such as Pacamara, Roots and Brave Roasters, the quality of our cuppas are always consistent. The joy is in discovering what else they have to offer here.

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Woodstock is a suburb of Cape Town, located between Table Bay and Devil’s Peak. The South African neighbourhood was in danger of becoming derelict with rising crime but then hipster yuppies moved in, renovating Victorian-era houses and starting up new businesses. Gentrification saves the day.

Right in the middle of this urban village is the vibrant hipster haven also known as the Woodstock Exchange, billed as “place to work, play, interact, exhibit, flourish and be yourself.” Designers and artists, photographers and illustrators, entrepreneurs and cocktail maestros alike; they all flock to and congregate here.

And when these creatives need their morning (and afternoon) cuppas, they all stroll to the Rosetta Roastery.

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