Friday, September 25, 2015

Seven Places to Get a Great Cup of Coffee

When I was in Guatemala earlier this year, I came to appreciate good coffee. In fact, it got to the point where I preferred a good cup of coffee to a glass of wine.

I once heard a Mexican coffee described as having lemon, chocolate and soft spice notes. Like wine, coffee is also rated. One thing for sure; you need a coffee education to understand and appreciate all the varieties of coffee in the Mexico.

I had my first cup of coffee at Gran Cafe de la Parroquia in Veracruz where you tap your spoon on the side of the glass to get the waiters attention. He will pour steaming, hot coffee into your cup from precarious heights. This is a treat for the eyes as well as the palate.

My current favorite is a dessert, an Affogato - vanilla ice cream with a shot of hot coffee poured over it.

I know now that if you want a quality cup, you can’t count your pesos or your calories.

Here are seven places in San Miguel where exceptional coffee is a certainty.

You wouldn’t need a map to get to any of these spots. Just follow your nose.

Buen Apetito!

Café Oso Azul
Zacateros 17

Get a jump-start on your morning with a superior cup of brew and your favorite breakfast skillet.
Bo, one of the owners, has a coffee plantation in Veracruz and they roast their own beans right here in the restaurant.
They have put on coffee classes in the past to better understand the complexity found in a great cup of coffee. Check with them about future offerings.

Cafe La Ventana
Sollano 11

Coffee with a view?

Organic Chiapas coffee is as good as it gets at this little coffee window on Sollano. One of my favorites, it rivals the best Guatemala coffees in both high-grown power and complexity.

Get a cup first thing in the morning and make your way to the Jardin to watch San Miguel come alive. The views are as incredible as the coffee. 

Zenteno Specialty Coffee
Hernandez Macias 138

This corner café is always busy and customers love the colorful surroundings and the full-of-flavor coffee from Veracruz. This is the only place where I found real cafe con leche.

It’s tiny and so cozy you’re bound to make friends with your neighbor before you get a chance to grab your second cup.

What’s for breakfast? Claudia’s pies, what else.

El Cafe de La Mancha
Recreo 21A

Owners Paloma and Christian are passionate about superb coffee. Their beans are sourced from all over Mexico and they create their own blends as well. 

There's a whole range of coffee methods to choose from: Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, French Press, Japanese Vacuum - they have it all including a Chemex (a Yama Cold Brew Drip Tower), a Melitta Dripper (for German coffee), the Ibrik (Turkish Coffee) and the Aeropress, which has developed a cult following.

What we really like? The beans change every week so you’ll never get bored with the taste.

Lavanda Café
Hernandez Macias 87

Do people come here for the coffee or the breakfast?

Lavanda was created by Chef Karla Becerra Martinez and her partner Victor, who is the head barista and will be representing Lavanda in a major coffee competition this coming February.

Lavanda buys two coffees from Oaxaca and surprisingly, one from Guerrero. The state coffee association asked Guerrero farmers to adopt a natural process for their coffees in order to distinguish them from other Mexican coffees. The result is a full bodied coffee with a surprising finish. Those who like it claim it’s some of the best coffee in Mexico.

Outside of getting a magnificent cup of morning joe, you’ll also get the best breakfast in town.

Buen Dia Cafe 
Callejon del Pueblito #3

They call this coffee worth getting out of bed for. Buen Dia Café is well-known for all of their signature brews and has become legendary as the coffee culture in San Miguel continues to grow.

The trip to this restaurant is worth it just to walk down enchanting Callejon del Pueblito. It’s one of the most engaging streets in San Miguel.

You’ll love this little hideaway so much, you’re certain to find your way back the next morning with a large posse of coffee-loving friends.

Calle Canal 3, esquina Hidalgo

This is no ordinary Starbucks. In keeping with the colonial architecture of San Miguel, Starbucks located at the edge of the Jardin and also has an outdoor patio and courtyard.

Starbucks is filled with a diverse group of people, many who come here every morning to work. Outside of jockeying to grab the more comfortable seats by the window, the regulars all know each other and often trade leads and local chit-chat.

Try something different: the Flat White. Starbucks calls it a bold coffee flavor with a sweeter finish. With an even mix of milk and smooth velvet foam, it feels like you’re drinking an espresso, only it’s yummier.