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21 May 2015

The Mexico City Caffeine Chronicles

When I was researching my trip to Mexico, I was pleased to find that Mexico City had plenty of the third-wave coffee bars I love so much. Mexico is a favourite coffee-bean region of mine — much of it is grown in Oaxaca and Guerrero, closer to the coast, but there are a lot of great varieties in DF (when I visited Cuba in 2005, much of the best coffee was exported, leaving only poorly-quality beans for the Cubans). I drew inspiration from a few sources, including Time Out Mexico's great coffee bar guide, the helpful folks at @CoffeeLoversDF and a little Googling. First, a vocab lesson (espresso drinks usually keep their Italian names):

Pourover — infusión or sometimes just dripper/Clever/V60/Chemex. Quite a few places offer these brew methods, but sometimes, when I asked, they 'weren't available'. Maybe there isn't much demand and only one or two baristas are trained to use them?
Aeropress — Aeropress
Siphon — sifón
French press — prensa francesa
Cold brew — extracción fría
Hand-brewed methods — métodos artesanales

I've organised the coffee bars highlighted below by neighbourhood; many are in Roma, which is where I was staying. There are a couple — notably, Café Passmar, which some say is the best coffee bar in DF — that were on my list but I didn't have time to visit on this trip. I don't think that an espresso, macchiato or pourover cost more than 50 pesos (about £2.10) in any of these places.



Roma
BUNA 42. I'll start with the café I visited the most, partly because of its proximity to my hotel and partly because it's a beautiful place with great coffee. BUNA 42 is part of the Café Rico group and its Calle Orizaba café is well-designed with its pops of mint green, Scandi-influenced furniture, power and wifi, cacti and shiny Modbar espresso machine.



They serve a couple of different espressos (when I was there, they had one Ethiopian and one Oaxacan; I tried the latter and it was smooth and rich). They also had three different pourover coffees available. Again, I tried a Oaxacan variety, which was very good. The cold brew was also rather nice — sometimes, cold brews can be a bit watery, but this was strong, flavoursome and refreshing. None of these costs more than 50 pesos (£2.10), and if that still doesn't give you enough choice, they do espresso tonics, affogatos and various mochas. Veggie tamales and pastries are also available.

Calle Orizaba 42 nr Durango, Roma. WebsiteTwitter.


Cardinal. A few blocks south of BUNA 42, on Calle Córdoba, is the lovely Cardinal. Like many of the Mexican coffee bars I visited, the décor was lovely, with pops of vibrant turquoise and random objets d'art, from vintage globes to dinosaurs.



They have a rather good métodos artesanales menu, offering Chemex, V60, Kalita, Aeropress and siphon brews. Sheltering from a rain storm, I perched at the window and enjoyed a delicious Guerrero coffee brewed in an Aeropress (30 pesos). The staff are friendly too, and food is also available.

Calle Córdoba 132 nr Guanajuato, Roma. FacebookTwitter.


Café Memorias de un Barista. When I arrived at this little café on a Saturday morning, I was surprised to find each of the small tables occupied by one person, none of whom were drinking coffee. It turned out that they were all taking part in one of the barista training courses the café organises. Memorias does very much feel like it's the living room of a particularly well-travelled but nostalgic master barista, and this is no bad thing.



I had an excellent Aeropress, but sadly, my coffee-making Spanish wasn't good enough at that point to pick up too many tips from the class!

Calle Frontera 83 bet Durango & Colima, Roma. WebsiteTwitter.


Abarrotes Delirio. This café and deli was the reason that I knew Roma was the right DF neighbourhood to stay in: it was highlighted last year in a BuzzFeed post about the world's most beautiful cafés that also featured my photos of Revolver in Vancouver. The deli (abarrotes means 'grocery') is foodie heaven with its well-curated collection of goodies, and tempting breakfast and lunch dishes are served here too. The coffee menu has nice typography but is a little more basic — they stick to espresso-based drinks — but the macchiato I had was rather good, although it didn't look like much. The café's monochrome pavement tables are also a great spot for people-watching.


Calle Colima 114 nr Mérida, Roma. WebsiteTwitter.


Espressarte. I didn't make it here, but they serve some nice-looking Chemex and V60 brews and have their own micro-roastery.
Eje 2 Poniente Monterrey 151 bet Zacatecas & Guanajuato. Website. Twitter.


Coyoacán
Café Avellaneda. After your inevitable visit to Frida Kahlo's house in the relaxed neighbourhood of Coyoacán (you did go there early, right?), you may well be wanting coffee. If so, head to Café Avellaneda, a block or so southeast of Plaza Hidalgo. Calle Higuera is a pretty, quiet street and you will notice Avellaneda's turquoise awning. It's tiny inside, but they serve three different hand-brewed coffee varieties, each of which is served via a recommended brewing method. They also provide a huge amount of detail about each coffee.



I tried a La Candelaría coffee from Oaxaca, which was served with a Clever dripper and had white chocolate and orange notes. Even on a super-hot day, it was refreshing and very flavoursome. The price was, I think, 30-35 pesos. Avellaneda roasts its own coffee and they sell bags of their beans. Luckily, they had bags that were small enough for even my small suitcase, and I took home a 175g bag of the La Candelaría (about 70 pesos).


Calle Higuera 40-A nr Arturo Ibáñez, Coyoacán. FacebookTwitter.


Café Negro. On the other side of Coyoacán's Plaza Hidalgo, on Calle Centenario, is Café Negro, the other coffee bar I visited in this neighbourhood. The Macs were out in full force at this minimalist café (OK, there were only two other customers, but they both had MacBook Airs!), and I was pleased to find that pourovers were on the menu. My coffee was served in a tall carafe and glass, which looked pretty but took a long time to cool. It did taste very good, although I did rush it a little in my haste to finish exploring the area. The staff were friendly and unlike Avellaneda, there is a little elbow room, which is good if you are trying to multi-task.


Calle Centenario 16, Coyoacán. WebsiteTwitter.


La Condesa
Rococó Café Espresso. I didn't visit, but it's well reviewed, so worth checking out if you're in La Condesa.
Calle Juan de la Barrera 49 nr Parque España, La Condesa. FacebookTwitter.


Del Valle
Café Passmar. Many people regard this as one of the top coffee bars in DF, but unfortunately, its location south of Roma but north of Coyoacán meant that I didn't have time to make the detour on this trip. Del Valle is just a quick metro journey from the city centre or Coyoacán, though.
Mercado Lázaro Cárdenas, Adolfo Prieto S/N, Local 237, Del Valle. Website.

Alma Negra. Another nice-looking café in Del Valle.
Avenida Universidad 420 nr Eje 5 Sur Eugenia, Del Valle. Website. Twitter.


Elsewhere in Mexico
I had less time for coffee scouting outside DF and — on the Yucatán, at least — Starbucks and Café Italia seemed to be the main options. There are a few nice coffee bars in Oaxaca, though, including Cofetarika, which I didn't find in time, and Café Brújula.

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