Top 3 Cafes in Oaxaca City
by Annissa Whyte
Coffee is a rich part of the gastronomy of Oaxaca and Mexico. A frappe or a shot of espresso can be found almost as easily as a taco or juice stand on almost every busy corner. Here’s a list of my favourite spots that offer a mixture of an excellent brew, absolutely yummy offerings, relaxing atmosphere, great prices and excellent wi-fi!
A.M. Siempre Cafe
First on the list is A.M. Siempre Café. Popular with locals and expats alike, this café is definitely a must-visit-at-least twice in all of Oaxaca. The promise of 100% organic ingredients is evident in the first bite into any of their menu items, especially those including the ‘in-house’ bread and the coffee is signature Oaxaca richness.
Location and ambience
The cafe is located in La Colonia Barrio de Xochimilco (without traffic, about a 5-7 minutes drive from the main city square) and a valet is onsite to assist with parking. This is partly due to the fact that the neighbourhood is recognized as an official UNESCO World Heritage Site so parking space can be tight but the police presence is constant. If you’re taking a cab, be sure to let the driver know let the driver know that the entrance to the street is close to the children’s library, or say “cerca de Biblioteca de infantil”. If he still has no clue, ditch the cab!* As you exit the vehicle, head left past the chained barrier that blocks car traffic. The building is on the left with a noticeable sign. Immediately upon entering, you’ll be drawn into the beautifully seamless indoor and outdoor ambience. The courtyard towards the back is always a great spot. I especially recommend heading to the cafe on Sunday mornings for brunch where the live entertainment is the perfect complement to the 30-45 minute wait if you’ve ordered food the menu (other than the coffee of course!). If live music isn’t your vibe, then help yourself to one of the many books in the bookcase or take a quick walk over to the beautiful children’s library.
Taxi Tip-In the 6 months I’ve lived and travelled throughout Mexico, I’ve spent more than a month in 4 culturally and geographically diverse states. I’ve seen time and again, older cab drivers are safer, unlikely to hike fares without rationale and know the quickest routes to just about most streets you’ll want and need to get around to. They will most often be your best bet.
Food and Service
Thankfully, you won’t be toe-tapping in vain. I’ve visited A.M. with enough frequency to now have full assurance that their promise of incredibly tasty food that is 100% organic is something they take very seriously, hence seriously worth the wait. The menu is stacked with both breakfast and lunch items with a separate insert with a vast array of hot and cold beverages. Whether fluffy eggs, bacon and toast, the classic beef burger or traditional Oaxacan meals, this cafe offers a little bit of everything for everybody. Other than my must-haves, one of the reasons I keep coming back is because the service here is impeccable. I’m always greeted with a warm smile and carefully attended to by the service staff, who not only speak English if necessary, but the menu also comes in both Spanish and English. I have never hesitated to treat myself to anything on the menu, especially from the bakery cabinet which is stocked once a day and usually empty by dusk. After trying their coffee, you’d be hard pressed to walk out without grabbing a bag of A.M.’s signature stock for your own homebrew which is just under 200 pesos (USD$10). Make this a regular spot for a constant reminder of the smaller details that make Oaxaca City a truly worthwhile and unforgettable experience.
The Italian Coffee Company
Location and Accessibility
This coffee available here is what I would deem one of the best-kept secrets in all of Oaxaca City. There is one location inside the main city square, but my go-to branch is a few minutes walk away, directly across from the Santa Domingo Church. TIIC is most suitable for those looking for a chill, hideaway-like atmosphere smack in the centre of busy Oaxaca city. You’ll find it difficult to ease your gaze from the sublime view which overlooks the plaza of one of the most tourist-heavy spots in the city. TIIC provides a certain level of comfort especially for recluses such as myself. Unlike expat-heavy Cafe Brujula, you could easily spend more than a few hours here without even realising simply because it’s never too full or noisy and has some of the best wi-fi connection I’ve experienced in Oaxaca. You’ll find mostly locals and millennials here and that’s always a good sign given they know all the great spots usually unknown to most travellers and tourists.
Food and Service
As I mentioned earlier, when you get to Oaxaca, you’ll quickly experience how incredibly rich and potent the coffee is. This place does it like nowhere else I’ve been to. What makes TIIC so special is the myriad of preparations methods available to its customers. The menu has over 12 hot and cold items respectively and an option to swap in almond milk is also available, believe me, this cafe house is absolute caffeine haven! The food is not bad, but not remarkable either…. however, that’s not a major issue because TIIC is all about the coffee and the views! Whenever I go, it’s always a hard choice between my favourite, the Mocha Oreo Frappe or anything else I know I should try but haven’t gotten the chance (because favourites exist for a reason). It also doesn’t hurt that staff here have the recipes down to a consistency that I’ve tested a few times. I love this place. Can you tell? Whether a creative session, Netflix binge or lunch-to-go, this café will quickly become a favourite if you’re looking for the perfect bubble to get lost in.
Location and accessibility
This one goes without much saying. Café Brujula is the ‘Starbucks’ of Oaxaca City (I should also note that there is no Starbucks in Oaxaca). If you’re looking for rock/indie/pop music and a familiar hub for meeting expats, this is just the place for you. There isn’t very far you’ll be able to walk throughout all of Oaxaca City without spotting this café. There are at least four in the Zocalo. With its gaining popularity, it can be a little tricky to navigate the ubiquitous crowds. It has a laid-back club-like atmosphere without the alcohol and many of the locations offer indoor/outdoor seating.
Food and Service
I’ve been to Café Brujula several times and on each occasion, I’ve preferred whatever menu item I’ve ordered over the coffee. As I’ve said earlier, coffee is serious business here. For some perspective, the average cup of coffee you’ll have in Oaxaca, whether in a local ‘cocina’ (kitchen/restaurant), hostel, bed and breakfast or fine dining restaurant, the coffee is usually dark, rich and has a noticeable Oaxaca earthy quality. It is simply excellent and in total and complete abundance. This is why I’m constantly befuddled at the quality offered at Cafe Brujula. For me, it’s just a bit weaker and lacking a certain depth that I’ve come to experience as the basic standard of coffee you’ll have while travelling through Oaxaca City. The food, however, is always a good idea. Sandwiches, bagels or baked goods are inexpensive and of really good quality. When I do swing by of late, my personal favourite gets first preference, that being the roast beef sandwich. It certainly fills a gap and worth every dollar. Condiments such as honey mustard and avocado support a hearty portion of sliced roast beef between toasted bread and additional salad. As I’m always in the mood to entertain my sweet tooth, I never leave without a biscotti or lemon cookie. The service at Cafe Brujula is very good, especially with most branches almost always being at 50% capacity. Hit this spot up and there’s a good chance you’ll be leaving with some friends you just met!
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January 18, 2019
The coffeeeee and food omg makes me want to cheat my diet! Great read!!!
January 18, 2019
Truly makes me want to pack up and jump to Oaxaca just to have a cup of coffee
January 18, 2019
Brautiful reqd Anissa. i am really proud of you.