I’m not just a coffee drinker, I’m a coffee addict. I am 18 and I have drunk coffee every day since the eighth grade.

It’s so important to me that I flew all the way to Tel Aviv to find the perfect cup of coffee. Okay, maybe not the sole purpose of my travels, but a big one.

Rumor has it that Israelis are rather particular about their coffee, so I wanted to find out, directly, if the coffee lives up to the hype.

The biggest distinction is in the culture itself. Israelis drink their caffeine in a much more chill atmosphere compared to the constant hustle and bustle of American businessmen or studious college students. Some people can sit in the same café for hours without being rushed by customers or waiters.

Israelis also offer coffee whenever people are guests in their homes. It’s a symbol of hospitality, stemming from the Middle Eastern tradition of drinking coffee in social gatherings.

Although the attitude of Israelis toward their coffee aligns more with Middle Eastern values, the design and taste of Israel’s coffee emulates the Europeans’ love for strong and acidic coffee.

The Special Coffee Association found that the most popular drink to order in America is classic latte, while Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared the most popular drink to order in Israel is cappuccino.

In short, Israelis prefer strong coffee, and the specialty coffee shops throughout Israel offer just that!

After much deliberation, these are my favorite spots in Tel Aviv, serving cappuccinos worth traveling for:

  1. Café Annabelle

Located on the corner of King George Street and HaHashmonaim Street, this small family-run coffee shop radiates good vibes and a homey atmosphere. The service is excellent, and the owner always goes out of his way to ensure I have a positive “stay” by helping me out with my Hebrew, providing me with Wi-Fi, and bringing everything directly to my table.

The cappuccino will not disappoint nor cause a dent in your wallet. A large cup is only 14 shekels (equivalent to $4.50). The brew glides down ever so smoothly with the perfect match between tang and sweetness. The coffee beans are also for sale, so no need to worry about any pending separation anxiety.

If that was not enough to convince you, Café Annabelle also offers delicious traditional Yemenite treats, like fresh assorted sandwiches and special jachnun on Saturdays. For those of you with a sweet tooth, their cakes rotate daily and each one is tasty.

People do go here to work (like me), but this place is not quiet. I recommend going there to study if you can handle all the nonstop action and noise encompassing you.

  1. Waycup Coffee 

Next on my list is any suburban neighborhood’s dream: Waycup Coffee. There are three of them; I visited the one on Mikveh Israel Street in a residential area. The modern café attracts many locals, who can all testify to the greatness of the coffee.

The beans are roasted on the spot by baristas who are experts in their craft. The crew is fast and precise, but also gives attention to “latte art.” The coffee is undeniably strong, with the perfect amount of acidity. This is also one of the few cafés in Tel Aviv serving flat whites.

Waycup’s cakes are also made to perfection. I recommend trying the pistachio variety. It has a unique flavor that, when paired with coffee, brings out some of the beverage’s masked sweetness.

  1. Coffee Shop 51
Oreen Cohen took this picture in one of her favorite Tel Aviv cafés, Coffee Shop 51.

Right in the heart of Tel Aviv on Ahad Ha’am Street, Coffee Shop 51 offers a break from the city’s loud chaos into what I call a “mini coffee wonderland.” The outside patio is absolutely charming, with beautiful greenery hanging all around and lovely rustic benches where you can sit and unwind for hours.

Not much is going on in the surrounding street, so it is the perfect place to make your temporary office.

The coffee is just as impressive, smoother and sweeter than any of the others on this list. It is more on the pricey side, but definitely worth the splurge. Additionally, Coffee Shop 51’s cakes provoke a mouthwatering sensation, especially the halva flavor.

  1. Little Prince Bookshop 

I pride myself on this next find… literally. I walked past this inconspicuous café several times before realizing it was there. The entrance looks more like an antique bookshop than a café, but when you go inside, you can see customers are drinking coffee in the lovely backyard garden.

This second-hand bookshop/cafe has a hip, eclectic feel with books in many languages and subjects. Everything on the menu is beautifully presented and the food, although rather Western in concept, has a hint of Middle Eastern charm.

The coffee is simple, but sometimes a classic cup of joe is all one wants! As a bonus, the waiters are always up for a conversation and the vibe attracts similar free-spirited locals.

  1. Edmund Coffee
Edmund Coffee on Yehuda Halevi Street in Tel Aviv. Photo by Oreen Cohen

Keeping the theme of deceitful appearances, Edmund Café is way more than what lies on the surface.

It is named after General Edmund Allenby, who led the British Empire to victory against the Ottomans in the fight for Jerusalem.

The four co-owners of this café have ample experience in the restaurant business, bringing in gourmet pastries from the Nola American Bakery in Tel Aviv. The rest of the menu is inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine, like my personal favorite — a Tunisian tuna sandwich.

The front looks like any other vintage rundown building, but the inside magically transforms into a hip and trendy hub for young people. Past the narrow entrance is an incredibly spacious outdoor seating area insulated for a comfortable drinking experience.

Painted murals and delicate flora also surround the area. Most importantly, the coffee exceeded expectations, tasting dark and rich with a subtle fruity aftertaste.

  1. Café Levinsky 41
Benny Briga in his famed Café Levinsky 41. Photo by Tess Levy

Though it seems to blend in with the rest of the shops in the Levinsky Market area, this hole-in-the-wall establishment is actually quite famous as the home of the gazoz sparkling fermented fruit-and-herb drink perfected by proprietor Benny Briga.

I passed by this place on my way to class, but its creative display of ingredients and spices intrigued me enough to return.

I paid attention to the friendly barista making my cappuccino — grinding the beans, mixing in chocolates, brewing the coffee — until the very last second where he served me my mocha masterpiece! I felt like I was watching a wizard concoct a magical potion. This is certainly not your typical Tel Aviv café.

  1. Cafelix – Shlomo Hamelech 

Calling all coffee lovers: I saved my favorite recommendation for last. Cafelix has three branches (one in Jaffa, another on Levinsky Street, and the third off Dizengoff Square on Shlomo Hamelech). I like the last one best.

Despite its proximity to Dizengoff, Shlomo Hamelech Street is nothing like its loud action-packed neighbor. The tranquility of the area is precisely why I chose this location. They have bar stools facing the street, where I like to sit and feed off passersby for inspiration.

This café prides itself on high-quality beans and a close relationship with the farmers. On offer are skillfully roasted single origin coffees from Guatemala, Brazil, Nicaragua, Tanzania and Uganda. Feel free to ask about the differences between each of these types — the baristas are experts and are more than happy to explain.

There is a homey small-town vibe to this café. The customers are loyal patrons and mostly everyone knows each other by name. I’m becoming a regular myself! Just a small word of advice: Try the nitro cold coffee. It truly is mind-blowing.

In conclusion, the coffee in Tel Aviv certainly lives up to the hype. For Israelis, coffee is a way of life… not just a way to deal with life!