September 8, 2016

A Specialty Coffee Tour of Bogotá’s Cafés


Times are changing in Colombia. Just a few years ago, the specialty coffee industry hardly existed at all. But today, the country’s coffee culture is slowly but steadily growing. And nowhere is this more obvious than in the capital, Bogotá, where it’s getting easier and easier to find a mind-blowing drink. What’s more, you can expect a large serving of production insight, since this is a country where coffee isn’t just served but also grown.

Bogotá is huge city of 8 million people, and the best way to explore is by visiting some of its great cafés. I’ve created an itinerary for an eight-stop coffee shop tour, complete with nearby sights, perfect for visitors and residents alike.

SEE ALSO: Commercial to Specialty: A Colombian Farming Success Story

Contraste Coffee Lab

Experience Bogotá through coffee at Contraste Coffee Lab. Credit: Contraste Coffee Lab

Why These Eight?

As a coffee lover, I love every coffee shop in Bogotá. I love their baristas, with their energy, their passion, and their openness. I love how they will take the time to explain how wonderful our coffees are. And I know it’s impossible to choose the best ones, especially in a constantly evolving coffee culture like this.

But for now, it’s a pleasure to introduce you to eight cafés which have become some of my personal favorites during my search for stunning coffee. May they lead you to discover other amazing places and drinks.

1. Contraste Coffee Lab

Our first stop is in in historic Candelaria, Bogotá’s Old Town. Contraste Coffee Lab is a Colombian-Australian blend led by the welcoming Manuel and Tommy. Manuel was a finalist in the 2015 national barista championship, meaning you can be confident of great coffee – but that’s not the only great thing here. The café also backs onto Papaya Gourmet, making this a chill place to taste delicious waffles, burritos, and more. Oh, and if you’re looking for a low-budget place to stay, there’s also a cool hostel next door.

Where Cra 3 No 12c-90
Style Hip and urban
Espresso Machine Iberital
Espresso Roast Medium
Filter Roast Medium
Roaster Manuel roasts all the coffee himself on a Bühler
Must-Try Drink Their flat white has received Aussie and Kiwi approval
Food Small pastries, burritos, and wraps
Nearby Sights Gold Museum, El Chorro de Quevedo, La Plaza de Bolivar, and La Candelaria                                                                                        

Contraste, a colourful café in Bogotá

Contraste Coffee Lab is full of color. Credit: Contraste Coffee Lab

2. Catuai Coffee

“In the specialty coffee industry, there is everything to do,” says Leopoldo, while explaining the social responsibility behind Catuai Coffee. His microfranchise model aims to helping victims of Colombia’s conflict. Currently, there are eight franchises operating in six different cities.

But Catuai Coffee doesn’t just do good; it is good. From El Centro, the city center, find Bavaria Park and then enjoy a peaceful walk here. Once you’ve arrived, let the welcoming baristas advise you on the best food pairing for your coffee.

Where Calle 31 13A-51, Local LP03, Edificio Panorama
Style Friendly and open
Espresso Machine Simonelli Appia
Espresso Roast Medium
Filter Roast Medium
Roaster San Franciscan coffee roasted by Herbert Peñaloza, and Bühler coffee roasted by Abel Calderon
Must-Try Drink The coffee chai or the white chocolate mocha
Food French pastries
Nearby Sights National Museum, Bavaria Park, Centro Internacional, Santamaría Bullring, and the Planetario (museum)                          

Catuai Coffee

Catuai Coffee aims to offer Colombia more than just good coffee. Credit: Catuai Coffee

3. Café Mundano

The urban and yet rustic style of this coffee shop is what makes Café Mundano stand out from the crowd. If you’re making your way to the Parque Nacional, near La Septima, make sure to stop by. They offer a variety of coffees with differing profiles, and also have cool brewing guides displayed on the screen.

Where Diagonal 40 # 7-40  Plaza 39 Mall Ground floor
Style Rustic and  Urban
Espresso Machine Astoria
Espresso Roast Medium
Filter Roast Medium
Roaster Probat coffee roasted by Jesús Martin
Must-Try Drink Chemex Cold Brew
Food Small pastries, cookies,  and cheese straws
Nearby Sights National Park, Cine Tonalá (independent films and a bar), Teusaquillo Neighborhood, and Parkway (bohemian nightlife, cool bars and restaurants)

Café Mundano

Café Mundano mixes urban with rural rusticity. Credit: Café Mundano

4. Varietale

A beautiful blue house decorated in the traditional style of the Colombian coffee regions, Varietale is one not to be missed. It’s located near Javeriana University, which provides a college town atmosphere. Fittingly, they also take their education seriously.

Their roaster is behind the bar, allowing you to see their roasting process. From time to time, you might see groups of students roasting and cupping samples in their lab. Another detail I love is that you get a sheet explaining the coffee you order.

Their baristas are always on the go due to the high demand of students and coffee lovers.  But if you have any questions about your coffee, they’re always happy to answer.

You can also find 20 different kinds of teas, which go well with their yummy pastries.

Where Cll 41 No 843
Style Traditional Colombian
Espresso Machine La Marzocco
Espresso Roast Medium
Filter Roast Medium
Roaster They roast coffee in the café on a Bühler
Must-Try Drink Any of the filter coffees
Food Cookies, empanadas, and cakes
Nearby Sights Salvo Patria Restaurant, Chapinero Neighborhood, and El Campín (Bogotá’s football stadium)                                                    


Traditionally Colombian, Varietale is a great spot for those curious about their coffee. Credit: Varietale

5. Café Cultor

You’ll find Café Cultor in the Zona G neighborhood. A container converted into a cool coffee spot, it has a terrace perfect for enjoying sunny afternoons in the capital.

Café Cultor began life as an exporting company, but when the business saw that almost all of the great coffee they were selling was leaving the country, they decided to share coffee culture with Colombians too. This leads it to be education-oriented; Cafe Cultor has a talk on a new topic every month.

Where Cll 69 # 6-20
Style Urban
Espresso Machine Simonelli Appia II
Espresso Roast Medium
Filter Roast Medium
Roaster Leonardo Acosta roasts on a Probat at their own lab
Must-Try Drink Slow bar
Food Small pastries
Nearby Sights Zona G (great restaurants), Wilborada Library, and Fanny Mickey Theater   

Café Cultor

A cool place to be, especially on a hot summer’s day. Credit: Café Cultor

6. Libertario Coffee

This fancy coffee spot also happens to be in Zona G. It offers exotic varieties such as Gesha and SL28 grown by their friends at La Palma & El Tucan, located in the Cundinamarca Department just 90 minutes from the shop. (By the way, if you want to learn about the whole process of coffee and don’t have the time to visit the coffee triangle, La Palma y el Tucán would be a good choice.)

At Libertario, you’ll find two stunning espresso profiles to choose from: Paz and Libre. These can also be tasted in different brewing methods alongside their rotating varietal offerings. Oh, and don’t miss out on a barista recommendations: they know what they’re talking about.

Where Cll 71 # 5-34
Style A Mediterranean-America fucion
Espresso Machine La Marzocco GB5
Espresso Roast Medium light espresso Libre
Medium espresso Paz
Filter Roast Medium
Roaster The head barista, Luisa Quintero, roasts on a San Franciscan
Must-Try Drink Ask for Rock of the Week
Food Pastries and sandwiches for lunch
Nearby Sights La Porciúncula Church, Andino Mall, Atlantis Mall, T Zone (great bar and restaurant area)                                                       

Libertario, a coffee shop in BogotáGet ready to be served some great coffee at Libertario. Credit: Libertario

7. Azahar

Located in Park 93, Azahar is all about single origin coffees from different regions of Colombia. And the baristas are just as good as the coffee. In fact, you’ll find Mauricio Romero, our current national barista champion, pulling shots here.

But that’s not all: every last Saturday of the month, Azahar offers a free public cupping to showcase their new coffees.

Where Cra. 14 # 93A-48 Bogotá
Style Urban
Espresso Machine Nuova Simonelli
Espresso Roast Medium
Filter Roast Medium
Roaster Joper
Must-Try Drink Any of their single origin coffees brewed in a V60
Food Small pastries
Nearby Sights Park 93, Cinemania (independent films), Bogotá Beer Company, El Salto del Angél (restaurant), Pesqera Jamarillo (fish restaurant)

Azahar, a specialty café in Bogotá

Azahar: the perfect place to sit in the sun and relax. Credit: Azahar

8. Bourbon Coffee Roasters

This beautiful spot in Quinta Camacho is dedicated to Bourbon coffee. They roast on site, meaning you can watch the magic happen. And their baristas are ready and willing to explain the latest innovations in Bourbon cultivation and processing, including new fermentation processes – meaning you can learn about all the steps in the coffee’s journey from bean to cup. It’s an experience for both your palate and your mind.

What’s more, Bourbon Coffee Roasters is a lovely place to spend an hour or two. A pleasant terrace at the back of the coffee shop is perfect for sipping on a cup of coffee with friends.

Where Calle 70A # 15-83
Style Classic and rustic
Espresso Machine La Marzocco
Espresso Roast Medium High
Filter Roast Medium
Roaster Quantik
Must-Try Drink Mocha with cocoa
Food Small pastries, quiches, and sandwiches
Nearby Sights Quinta Camacho neighborhood (beautiful traditional houses), Chapinero Neighborhood, La Porciúncula Church, Avenida Chile Mall   

Bourbon Coffee Roasters

Try the rare pink Bourbon here. Credit: Bourbon Coffee Roasters

As I said, there are many more specialty coffee spots to visit in Bogota, but I consider these eight to be a good representation of the growing coffee culture emerging in the capital. What’s more, they’ll help you visit the different areas within the city.

Colombia is well known for its quality coffee abroad, but its own ever-increasing coffee community makes Bogotá even more interesting. Don’t miss the chance to explore and discover for yourself. Let me tell you that rediscovering my own city through coffee has led me to meet incredible people and have such great experiences.

Coffee, as usual, has been essential.

All views within this opinion piece belong to the guest writer, and do not reflect Perfect Daily Grind’s stance.