Many travelers may be unaware that Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s most important coffee-producing states.
Much of Oaxaca’s coffee is responsibly produced and organic, grown by small and medium-scale farmers in the mountainous regions of the Sierra Norte, the Sierra Sur and the Mixteca. This great variety of local coffee production means that you can find a number of distinct flavor profiles from one café to another in Oaxaca City. Try a cup or two (or more) at these coffee shops.
This picturesque coffee shop and chocolatier is found at the top of the steep, cobbled Calle del Punto behind the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad. Covering the red walls are sacks of cacao beans and photographs of the café’s Oaxacan coffee being harvested. Caracol Púrpura is home to one of Oaxaca’s best espressos: full-bodied, smokey and bitter, yet addictive. However, if espresso is not your preferred method of caffeination, opt for a cup brewed with the V60 dripper or a french press. As a plus, the shop makes a wonderful selection of chocolate bars with the cacao beans sourced from Chiapas. The chocolate ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent cacao, with flavors that include almond, sea salt, cardamom and chili.
Located only two blocks away from the Zócalo, the central gathering place of Oaxaca, Muss Café should not be missed by coffee lovers visiting Oaxaca City. Its organic beans are sourced from Finca Las Nieves: a farm brushed by the wind of the Pacific Coast that has been producing some of the state’s best coffee since the 19th century. The café itself is a chic and modern space that opens onto a calm-inducing colonial courtyard. Light breakfasts and snacks feature on the menu. We recommend trying the hummus on toast or a freshly baked pastry with a latte, or give one of the signature cocktails a go if you’re visiting during the afternoon.
This cozy café and bookshop is a great place to curl up with a tasty coffee and a good book. It is a charmingly decorated space with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating with a small terrace at the back. Its iced coffees topped with whipped cream and sipped from an environmentally conscious metal straw are a popular item on the menu. Or as an alternative, try the café frío Irlandés (Irish cold coffee) for a Oaxacan twist on a classic (mezcal is used instead of whiskey). Accompany your beverage with a plate of hand-cut thick fries or a typical Mexican cuernito (a croissant filled with ham, cheese, salad and jalapeños).
Situated opposite the Biblioteca Infantil in the heart of Xochimilco – arguably Oaxaca City’s most picturesque and peaceful neighborhood – Filemón is a small coffee shop that is passionate about the quality of its produce. It grows its own coffee on a farm in the Cañada region of Oaxaca State, where bean varieties and roasting methods are constantly experimented on and tweaked. The result is a well-rounded coffee with an intense flavor. If you’re unsure about what to drink, we recommend the rich and creamy cappuccino or the cold brew as a light and refreshing alternative. Feeling peckish? Order a couple of delicious mermelas (handmade tortillas topped with frijoles and cheese).
Boulenc is a café, bakery and restaurant that is taking Oaxaca City by storm with its versatile offerings. This hipster spot located among the sprawling graphic art studios of Calle Porfirio Díaz serves excellent coffee in hand-crafted clay mugs alongside ridiculously good pastries and sandwiches. The sourdough pizzas are also some of the best in a city. Boulenc is almost always busy (except on Sundays when it’s closed), so expect a 10- to 15-minute wait, unless you’re ordering to go.
With seven varieties of roasts to choose from, Blasón is an ideal place for connoisseurs to sample the subtle flavors of Mexican coffee. Its beans are sourced from the country’s three most important coffee-producing states: Veracruz, Chiapas and Oaxaca. It also sells its house americano, espresso and decaf blends in bags, making for an aromatic souvenir. Blasón has two locations in the city: one in the historic center and another in the colorful neighborhood of Jalatlaco. At either branch you can enjoy a flavorful cup of joe alongside a generous slice of cake or a flaky pastry.
Tucked away on a sidestreet in tranquil Xochimilco, A.M. Café Siempre is a great spot for a generously served cup of coffee. With comfortable vintage sofas and a small outdoor patio, this house that has been converted into a family-friendly café and feels quite quaint. The staff are incredibly helpful and friendly; they were proud to tell Culture Trip that their single-origin coffee is grown locally in the Sierra Sur region of Oaxaca at 4,000ft (1,200m) above sea level. For your cravings, the café also offers a wide variety of not-so-Mexican breakfast and lunch options: pancakes, eggs benedict, omelettes and bagels, made with the very best ingredients.
Cafébre is a trendy coffee shop that plays ’80s hits and is especially popular with young locals. Tucked away in the courtyard of an old house in downtown Oaxaca, it is a great spot to relax with company or quietly get some work done. The well-trained baristas prepare coffees with various brewing methods, and all of the beans used come from Oaxaca State. Buying coffee from Cafébre is a great way to support local small-scale coffee farmers since the café purchases directly from producers and is committed to paying fair prices.
If in search of a coffee while browsing organic skincare products, traditional embroidered clothing and handmade pottery, look no further than Café Yu-Van. Towards the back of the bustling organic farmer’s market Mercado Orgánico La Cosecha is this small family-run café that makes an exquisite café de olla: coffee prepared in a clay pot over a stove with cinnamon and piloncillo (a sugar-based product). Its hand-picked coffee hails from the mountains of the Sierra Norte. At its stall, you can also peruse other natural products, including honey, vanilla pods and cinnamon sticks. Note that the market is open from Wednesday to Sunday only.
A list of Oaxaca coffee shops would be incomplete without mention of Café Brújula, because with a total of six locations across the city, Brújula is one of Oaxaca’s most abundant coffee shops. It is a proudly home-grown enterprise, selling coffee from six of the eight regions of the state. Both its hot and cold coffees are worth trying, accompanied by a crunchy oat cookie or a chewy chocolate brownie. The company has expanded so much in recent years that these days you can order its beans online and get them delivered to any address in Mexico.