Welcome to Buenos Aires: a magical city that also happens to have a blooming great coffee culture. Wander down the streets and you’ll see café after café, some traditional, some specialty, and all popular. So, come with me on a tour of my city, as I introduce you to the third wave roasteries, coffee shops, and events that you should know.
Barista pouring latte art. Credit: Tyler Nix
A City With Two Coffee Cultures
The traditional Argentinian morning starts with a café en jarrito bien caliente or a lagrima: a very hot coffee cut with milk or a milk with just a few drops of coffee, respectively. The consumer will no doubt reach for the sugar pot to sweeten this bitter brew, but that won’t put them off ordering it next time. This drink is a staple.
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Yet times are changing, and now you’ll also find specialty cafés serving pour overs, lightly roasted espressos, and more. Customers can see the coffee being roasted, learn about the beans’ origin, and even enrol on an SCA training course.
In a city as large and diverse as Buenos Aires, there’s room for more than one coffee culture, however. The recently launched Festival de Café de Buenos Aires (FECA) is a great example of this, with its showroom divided into three categories. The first was for traditional coffee bars, such as the Gran Café Tortoni, Cafe Ouro Preto, the Florida Garden and Café Las Violetas. Next, you had specialty coffee shops such as Negro Cueva de Café, La Motofeca, Del Viento and Habito Café. And finally, you had large commercial brands (as well as assorted lectures and workshops, of course).
Browsing stalls at FECA, Buenos Aires. Credit: Nathaly Cristina
Roasters Create New Coffee Traditions
So, what does the city’s specialty coffee scene look like? Well, first, it’s important to note that Argentina is not a coffee-producing country, unlike many of its neighbors. However, it does have plenty of roasters.
La Motofeca started life as a retro coffee truck at festivals, serving great brews in a ‘60s/’70s Italian Piaggio. Yet just over a year ago, the team opened a small café-roastery. The beauty of La Motofeca is the fact that you can see them roasting the coffee they serve – an excellent way to learn more about specialty coffee. You can also take SCA courses led by their roaster and barista instructor, Alexis Sabogal.
Walter Mitre, one of La Motofeca’s founders, roasts coffee. Credit: Nathaly Cristina
La Motofeca is not the only option for curious coffee consumers, however. You can also take SCA courses and see coffee being roasted at Café Registrado, a barista school with a roasting room.
And, of course, you can taste the impact of roasting at many café-roasteries across the city, even if you can’t always watch the magic happen. Some of these are All Saints Café, Full City Coffee House, Ninina, Lattente, Del Viento, and LAB Cafe.
The roasting room at Café Registrado. Credit: Nathaly Cristina
Sipping Good Coffee in Buenos Aires
It’s not all about roasting, though! We shouldn’t overlook the importance of simply enjoying a delicious specialty coffee. There are many cafés where you can breathe in the aroma of a fresh brew and allow its taste to transport you away from the chaos of the city.
Take Negro Cueva de Café: a true coffee refuge where you can experience good vibes, good music, and good coffee. The staff are passionate about their brews and will happily share their knowledge with you. Then, of course, there’s Oss Kaffe, Habito Café, Catoti, Felix Felicis & Co, Cigaló Café, and more.
“I feel the responsibility of creating a good moment in the day of the lives of people,” says Javier Schulze, Owner and Barista at Habito Café. “I really enjoy it because, not only do I expect them to come for a good coffee, otherwise I want them to enjoy a good experience.”
Barista brewing coffee on a Chemex. Credit: Karl Fredrickson
The Future of Argentina’s Coffee
So, what does the future hold for Argentina’s coffee scene? Well, Lucas of restaurant and coffee shop review site EnBandeja believes the future looks good.
“Specialty coffee is a movement that has come to stay and will continue to grow…” he tells me. “It has shown the Argentinians that there is a superior product [out there] and [more and more] there are ambassadors.”
He attributes the growth of third wave coffee, in part, due to immigration. Colombians, Peruvians, Venezuelans, Ecuadorians, and more, have brought their passion and knowledge to Argentina, he says.
This is just the start of Buenos Aires’ specialty coffee adventure. As the passion for great coffee grows, we see more interested customers and talented baristas who want to honor the work of coffee producers. New coffee shops open all the time and there is no doubt that the movement will soon spread to other cities in Argentina.
Specialty coffee culture is here and it is thriving.
Perfect Daily Grind
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