Oaxaca is located in a coffee growing region, and coffee shops abound in the colonial centre. Not all of them serve great coffee though. After trying out several shops over the last few weeks, I give you today my top three contenders, and a few runners-up.
My benchmark drink of choice is the cappuccino. If the coffee flavour makes it through all the milk, and the texture is smooth with a nice thick foam that doesn’t disappear the moment you stir it, then it passes my test.
In addition, I like a coffee shop with a nice atmosphere, friendly service, and affordable coffee.
Most (if not all) coffee shops in Oaxaca give you the choice between drinking your coffee in the house (por aca) or taking it out (para llevar) just like Canadian or American shops.
All the listings below are located in the colonial centre of Oaxaca. Prices are given in Mexican pesos. (At the time of writing $1 CAD is worth about 12 pesos, and $1 US is worth about 15 pesos.)
The top three
With just three tables and two chairs at the bar, El Volador is a tiny place that serves freshly ground espresso coffee as well as homemade juices, pastries, and simple sandwiches. The cappuccino (25 pesos) is served in a tall glass.
Nancy, the friendly barista, is usually up for a chat if you want to practice your Spanish. She wants you to know that although she serves the best coffee in Oaxaca, the beans are actually from Veracruz! You can also buy coffee beans ground to your requirements.
They have WiFi and are closed on Sunday.
Address: Xolotl # 118 (intersection of R.Tamayo and V. Gomez Farias)
This is a small chain (with two locations on the main pedestrian drag Alcalá) offering a quick turnaround and consistently good coffee in North-American style shops. Don’t expect much beyond a “Buenos dias” here. The baristas are very busy.
Cappuccinos solo/doble/triple cost 28/32/38 pesos. Pastries are on the expensive side (38 pesos for a muffin!)
They are open on Sunday (when many shops and restaurants close in Mexico) and have WiFi.
Web site: http://www.cafebrujula.com
Address: Macedonio Alcalá 104 (large outdoor terrace) or Macedonio Alcalá 407, Plaza Santo Domingo (indoor, high tables).
Cafe Cultural Fika
This is actually a casual restaurant that happens to serve delicious espresso coffee. Their breakfast “packages” (including a coffee) are a good deal, but they also serve sandwiches and pastries. The upstairs dining room offers a collection of books that you can peruse while you wait.
Service is friendly and the food is good too!
Open Sunday from 16:00 to 21:00 only.
Address: Reforma 406
A couple more
These have good coffee, but disappoint in some other area. Still, you may want to give them a try.
A beautiful airy space decorated in shades of red, white, and dark brown. Large cappuccinos are served in tall glasses, and you can purchase beans. What’s the downside? The highest prices I’ve seen so far in this town: 36 pesos for a cappuccino (although it’s a big one).
Web site: http://cafe-cafe.com.mx (Spanish only)
Address: M. Bravo and Porfirio Diaz
Café Nuevo Mundo
I was told this was the best coffee in town. My cappuccino was indeed very tasty, but I had to wait 15 minutes for it, and then had to wait some more for the bill. (I was in a rush so I left the money on the table).
This, combined with the narrow and rather claustrophobic space, didn’t leave the best impression. It seemed like customers who ordered their coffee “to go” were served first, so you may want to try that.
They roast their own coffee and are usually very busy. The cake portions are huge!
Web site: http://cafenuevomundo.com
Address: M. Bravo 206
I will be adding to this list as I discover more places worth your pesos.
So if you’re wondering why you should go to Oaxaca, being able to drink good affordable coffee is one excellent reason!