Best Cafes in San José, Costa Rica

Coffee cherries |© Wendy/Flickr
Coffee cherries |© Wendy/Flickr
Photo of Jenn Parker
20 February 2017

Costa Rica and coffee go together like rice and beans. There are plantations both big and small scattered throughout the highlands of Costa Rica, and some of the best shade-grown coffee in the world comes from this region. With great coffee comes great cafés, especially in the capital city of San José. This selection of charming spots offer outstanding coffee alongside homemade pastries, sandwiches, and other breakfast and lunch specialities.


Cafe, Healthy, Dessert, Central American, $$$
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Café in San José, Costa Rica
A quirky and cute café | Courtesy of Cafeoteca | Cafeoteca

Cafeoteca has 23 different coffees from eight different coffee-growing regions in Costa Rica. Suffice it to say this café is a coffee connoisseur’s happy place. The baristas are incredibly knowledgeable and even use multiple brewing methods. Simply put, Cafeoteca is more than just a café – it is a coffee experience – with delicious pastries that pair perfectly with their speciality brews.

Meal service:

Dessert, All Day, Takeaway


Cosy, Boutique, Casual, Quirky

Underground Brew Cafe

Cafe, Contemporary, Coffee, Tea , Fast Food, Pastries, Dessert, $$$
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The perfect sandwich
The perfect sandwich | © Edward/Flickr

Underground Brew Café is an easily overlooked spot that should not be missed. Its nondescript entrance consists of a yellow gate that requires customers to buzz for entry. Once inside, electronic music hums like the effects of caffeine. The Underground Brew Café specialises in two in-house roasted coffees – medium roast black honey and yellow honey roast – and for adventurous coffee drinkers, there is the alluring spicy latte. Underground Brew Café also makes pastries and sandwiches to accompany your drink.

Cafe del Barista Aranjuez

Cafe, Fusion, Contemporary, Spanish, Healthy, South African, Central American, Coffee, Tea , Pastries, Dessert, $$$
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Café del Barista Aranjuez is a perfect place to go for breakfast or lunch, with its great menu of healthy food options and homemade pastries, specialty coffees and teas (and even sangria). The vibe here is warm and inviting – staffed with amiable, professional baristas who truly know their craft – and the place is also known for its consistently excellent soundtrack.

Meal service:



Arty, Cosy, Casual, Relaxed

Alma de Cafe

Cafe, Bakery, Bistro, Coffee Shop, Fusion, Healthy, Coffee, Tea , Pastries, $$$
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Fresh traditional brew
Fresh traditional brew | © Bex Walton/Flickr

Alma de Café is an elegant, 19th century-style café complete with marble floors and ceiling murals. This highly recommended café in downtown San José – close to the National Theater – has an extensive coffee menu and a superb pastry and lunch menu; they serve incredible sandwiches and their carrot cake is one of the best. The service is friendly and professional, making this an essential spot to try when visiting the city.

Creperia El Gato Negro

Cafe, French, Fusion, Coffee, Tea , Pastries, $$$
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Creperia El Gato Negro serves up a wide variety of crepes to accompany their delicious coffee beverages – some say that they’re even better than those you find in France. With a relaxed atmosphere that is perfect for just watching the world go by, Creperia El Gato is a favourite place for many in San José and one that has a long list of returning customers.

Meal service:

Takeaway, Lunch, Dinner


Boutique, Casual, Cosy, Traditional

Cafe Miel Costa Rica

Bakery, Cafe, Central American, Vegetarian
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The best empanadas
The best empanadas | © James/Flickr

Café Miel Costa Rica is famous for their empanadas, a flaky pastry that is often filled with cheese, ham, chicken, beef, vegetables, and sometimes even eggs with rice and beans. There are few things things better than a perfectly crafted homemade empanada and this place certainly ticks all the right boxes. Café Miel Costa Rica also serves up freshly squeezed juices and a variety of coffee beverages. This small café packs a delicious punch in everything they serve.

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