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Cecilia and Leonardo met many years ago through their passion for coffee. Realizing that Buenos Aires had one of the most unique café cultures in the world, they set out to visit a different “porteño” bar every two weeks. Along the way, they decided to fire up an invitation on social media for other coffee enthusiasts to join and have been documenting their escapades on Instagram ever since. What they didn’t expect was to be joined by so many people.
Ciudad Café came to life just over a year ago. The idea came from Leonardo Pereira, a digital marketer, but it wasn’t until he was joined by María Cecilia Santiago, an architect, that it took its final form.
Cecilia says she’s a fan of history, long walks, and architecture – all hobbies that would become useful for the Instagram project. She also had some other applicable prior experiences: “I had already organized many walks where we would stop at prominent buildings from the city, and I would share facts and stories about them. We basically took this idea and applied it to the different cafés of Buenos Aires.” Now, every two weeks, they announce where they will be visiting next and open up the invitation on their Facebook page and Instagram profile.
Cecilia and Leonardo found their inspiration by examining the special relationship people in Buenos Aires have with coffee: “What we find most interesting about coffee is that it’s the perfect excuse for generating a detour. Coffee creates both a moment and a place where time stops. Having a coffee in Buenos Aires is more about sharing a moment with someone and not necessarily about having the most exquisite blend or the best latte art.”
A regular staple in many famous Argentine works by authors such as Borges or Cortázar, cafés in Buenos Aires are an important part of everyday life. “Many of the best known cafés in Buenos Aires are a perfect examples of this culture,” Cecilia says. “We’ve been to many of the ‘Notable Bars,’ such as Los Galgos or Café Rivas, and the waiters tell us that some gentlemen have been visiting them daily for the last thirty years. They sit, grab a newspaper and order exactly the same thing every day. It’s all about keeping a ritual. That’s what we find splendorous: cafés in Buenos Aires are not just any place, not even non-places; they are tokens of the architectural and social history of our culture.”
What also fuels Ciudad Café is the warm group of people that join them on every adventure. “From the very beginning, a core group of about ten people was formed, and they have been to every event since. Among the community, different groups have formed to explore other interests, such as a book club or an art club.” Around thirty people usually attend every event, taking the time to explore Buenos Aires’ coffee culture. The best part, says Cecilia, are always the great conversations that unfold: “What we find really interesting is generating an offline meeting space that defies our always-on-digital lives. We do this to enjoy the pleasure of face-to-face conversations.”
As to where Ciudad Café is headed in the near future, they plan on continuing to visit the many, many cafés of Buenos Aires. “We have mapped a hundred cafés, of which we have already visited 18, and we plan on putting up a website with reviews of each one of them, that details both their history and their every detail. We are also working on selling some merch, such as notebooks with our brand, among other things.”
What they strive for is capturing what makes each one of these places unique and what makes Buenos Aires stand out when it comes to enjoying a great cup of coffee, while emphasizing the importance of meeting face to face.