Despite the fact that Mexico is one of the largest coffee producing countries in the world, most of the coffee I drank there was pretty terrible. With a few notable exceptions.
One of these happened on my first morning in Mexico City at a coffee shop called El Tercer Lugar near my hotel on Paseo de la Reforma. The area isn’t known for much more than large touristy hotels, but this coffee shop is tucked away on a small side street a short walk away from all the hustle and bustle.
El Tercer Lugar is pretty serious about their coffee, and it shows in their final product. They buy their beans from within Mexico, especially the states of Guerrero and Veracruz, and roast the beans themselves. The cafe is relaxed and modern, complete with a quaint window to order from the street. El Tercer Lugar where I first learned about café de olla, a spiced Mexican coffee.
“Café de olla at its best is pot-boiled in earthenware with molassesy piloncillo sugar and spices like cinnamon, anise or cloves. These days, many traditional city restaurants offer the dark, delicious drink more regularly, served in old-fashioned earthenware mugs at the end of the meal.” ~ Rick Bayless for Epicurious.
It’s become a new favorite… If you ask me, it tastes like caffeinated Christmas in a cup (!!!) and is a perfect addition to a cold winter morning! And, it’s simple to make.
Café de olla
Adapted from Mexican Spiced Coffee by Rick Bayless.
3.5 – 4 ounces piloncillo, roughly chopped or 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (depending on your preferred sweetness)
1 orange, zested in large strips
3-4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick (3-inch)
Coffee, freshly ground and preferably a fairly dark-roasted Mexican variety
Combine the first four ingredients for the spiced sugar syrup with 1 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Let steep at least 10 minutes, then strain off the cinnamon, cloves, and orange peel.
Next, you have two options. You can keep the syrup separate and add as much or as little as you want to sweeten and spice your coffee, prepared however you choose. Or, you can pour the syrup into a French press pot (8 cup). Top with 3/4 cup coffee, then fill 3/4 full with boiling water, and allow the mixture to steep 5 minutes before pressing the filter down. Serve right away.
El Tercer Lugar (the third place)
Havre 83, Juárez, Cuauhtémoc,
About El Tercer Lugar on CoolHunter Mexico.
P.S. — I discovered El Tercer Lugar from this highlight on Afar.com. It’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite resources for finding interesting spots to visit when traveling.