For many coffee-addicted travelers, a city isn’t worth its weight in coffee beans unless it has at least one classy cafe with some quality brew. The cafes on this list, however, aren’t classy nor are they particularly known for making a mean cup of mud either.
The cafes on this list are unique and some, like The Modern Toilet Restaurant, are just plain bizarre.
So grab a cappuccino and a comfy chair and read on to learn about 12 of the world’s wackiest coffeehouses:
1) Bikini Baristas Cafes, Seattle, Washington
At bikini barista cafes, coffee is served with a side of eye-candy. Photo by Joanna.
A slew of java joints serving coffee with a side of eye-candy have sprouted up across Seattle. And it’s not just the coffee that’s hot. The gimmick is simple yet effective: beautiful, half-naked barista babes dressed in bikinis or sexy school-girl costumes serve coffee out of drive-thru coffee stands.
2) Toilet-themed Café, Taipei, Taiwan
The Modern Toilet is a chain of latrine-inspired eateries in Taiwan. Photo by eazy traveler.
At the Modern Toilet Restaurant, customers can sip a cup of Joe while seated on the John, which ironically enough is exactly where owner Wang Zi-wei had the idea to start the chain of latrine-inspired eateries in the first place.
The restaurant’s cold drinks are served in plastic souvenir urinals and its entrees (like soupy brown curries or plops of chocolate ice cream, for instance) are served in miniature toilet bowls.
Plops of chocolate ice cream are served in miniature squat toilets. Photo by RiNux
With a menu that sounds like it was dreamed up by a potty-mouthed kindergartener (strawberry-flavored shaved ice is called “Bloody Poop,” for example), it’s a wonder the customers don’t lose their lunches before they’ve even had a chance to order them.
Believe it or not, the Modern Toilet Restaurant is extremely popular with locations across Taiwan and China. Photo by Andrea Hale.
The restaurant chain is popular in Taiwan and China, perhaps due to Taiwan’s relaxed attitude towards bodily functions (spitting in public is common and burping is considered polite).
3) Friends’ Central Perk Coffeehouse, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Friends fans may be surprised to learn that Central Perk is a real café . . . with a surprising Middle Eastern location. Photo by Lan XYZ.
Though the sitcom “Friends” was set in New York, fans looking for a double shot of Rachel Greene and the gang will have to head to the Middle East. Central Perk has been re-created in the desert metropolis of Dubai.
While it’s not an exact replica, the café’s neon sign and vintage orange sofa are nearly identical to the ones used in the show.
Although there are other Central Perk locations (one in Geneva and another in Beijing), the Dubai location was purportedly the first and is the only one to have snagged James Michael Taylor, the actor who played Central Perk manager ‘Gunther’, as their café spokesman.
4) Hello Kitty Sweets Café, Taipei, Taiwan
Get a sugar high at the Hello Kitty Sweets Café in Taiwan. Photo by Ed Kwon.
The Hello Kitty Sweets Café isn’t for those with an aversion to Pepto-Bismol-colored furniture or animal-shaped pastries, but is for the brave visitor who can stomach a heavy dose of pastel colors and squealing pre-teen girls.
A visit to the café can provide an interesting peak into Asia’s ‘culture of cute’.
In the Hello Kitty Sweets Café, lattes are adorned with paw-print swirls and pastries are served with a side of cat in the form of Hello Kitty designs made from powder sugar. Photo by Ed Kwon.
Interestingly enough, though the Hello Kitty brand originated in Japan in the 1970s, it’s the Taiwanese who created a Hello Kitty café, a Hello Kitty-themed resort and even a Hello Kitty-themed maternity hospital.
5) Bicycle-Themed Café, Toronto, Canada
Toronto’s Sonic Café, a popular student café and dive bar, is decorated with art installations made from up-cycled bicycle parts. Photo by Metrix X.
At Sonic Café in Toronto’s Chinatown, cyclists can repair their bikes at the café’s do-it-yourself repair shop while they gear up to hit the road with an espresso shot or bite of Sonic’s famous grilled cheese.
At night, patrons can trade in their coffee mugs for beer bottles, because after eight the café transforms into a bar.
6) Titanic-Themed Café, Los Angeles, California
Café Jack, named for Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in “Titanic,” is a high-end coffee shop in Los Angeles. Photo by Ed Kwon.
At Café Jack located in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, patrons can rekindle their love for the film “Titanic” aboard a 5,000-foot model of the famed ocean liner.
Café Jack, named for Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in “Titanic”, was a car dealership before a Korean fan of the film decided to remodel it into a high-end coffee shop. The café is popular with pub-crawlers who, after a night of heavy drinking, hop aboard for ice cream or bowls of hot ramen.
In keeping with the theme, the inside of the café is lined with wood paneling and “Titanic” film posters. Guests are also given fleece blankets upon being seated, to protect them from the cold should the ship hit an iceberg.
7) 80s-Themed Café, Chicago, Illinois
Wormhole Coffee features a Back to the Future-inspired time machine. Photo by Nate Beaty.
Chicago’s Wormhole Coffee is a hipster hangout that, with Ghostbusters’ movie posters and Star Wars and Gremlin figurines, has a vibe that’s less coffeehouse and more Ferris Bueller’s bedroom.
The café even features a Back to the Future-inspired Delorean ‘time machine’ and a Nintendo, which customers can play using the café’s 1980’s television console.
8) The Knit Café, Toronto, Canada
The Knit Café is a yarn store and café in Toronto. Photo by Seniwati.
The Knit Café is a yarn store in Toronto with a built-in café, where guests can spend an afternoon crafting over cups of coffee or cappuccinos. The café offers knitting and crochet classes, weekly ‘Stitch and Bitch’ sessions and a monthly ‘High Tea Sunday’.
9) The Apartment Café, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
At the Apartment Café in Taiwan, “make yourself at home” isn’t just a polite expression. Photo by An Chun Li.
From the outside looking in, the Apartment Café in Taiwan looks more like the sparsely-furnished apartment of an upper middle-class couple than a café, which is precisely the idea.
At the Apartment Café, guests can lounge on the sofa, read the paper at the dining room table or relax on the café’s balcony. Photo by Po Yang.
Sandwiched between two residences, the narrow two-story café has a kitchen, living room, a winding staircase and a study (complete with bookcases, potted plants, an antique desk even a rotary phone).
10) Cat Cafés, Japan
Take a catnap at the Cat Café, where, if you’re lucky, the four-legged waiters might join you. Photo by Klara Kim.
Most cafes don’t encourage their patrons to pet or cuddle their wait staff, but then again, most cafes don’t employ cats.
Cat cafés are popular among the Japanese, many of whom love animals but aren’t allowed to have pets due to strict ‘no pet’ policies in many Japanese apartment buildings.
For the cost of a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, cat-lovers can pet and play in what for all intents and purposes is a feline petting zoo
11) Foot-spa Café, Kyoto, Japan
For $12, guests at this spa-themed café can enjoy a foot-bath and a hot beverage. Photo by NanakoT.
The Kyoto Bubbles and Foot-bath Café in Kyoto, Japan is a spa-themed café, where customers can enjoy a hot beverage and, at the same time, a hot footbath.
The foot-baths (pools of hot water) are built into the floor under each table, which makes the experience a convenient way to relieve sore muscles after a long day.
A foot-bath costs 12 dollars for 20 minutes and includes a free drink.
12) Airplane-Themed Café, Mangaweka, New Zealand
A visit to the Hub Café will take your caffeine addiction to new heights. Photo by Phillip Capper.
This World War II plane was transformed into a café at the tiny airport in Mangaweka, New Zealand, in 2000. Patrons can kickback at a table in the plane’s cabin or relive childhood pilot fantasies with a tour of the cockpit.
Airplane-themed cafes seem to be taking off in New Zealand with this refurbished plane that’s been permanently grounded at a McDonalds in Taupo. Photo by Kalvinka.
Though the Mangaweka airplane is currently closed for renovations, a McDonalds two hours away in Taupo, New Zealand also has a refurbished airplane café.
Here’s to hoping aviation-themed cafes in New Zealand continue to take off!
Which trendy coffeehouse would you like to visit? Have you been to a hip-themed café? Let me know in the comments below.
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Main photo: Sip a latte with Hello Kitty design by amarisse_s.