May 24, 2019

A Specialty Coffee Shop Tour of Santiago, Chile


Surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, Santiago is a charming combination of colonial architecture and contemporary skyscrapers. Chile’s capital city is also its biggest, with sophisticated hotels, high-end restaurants, and a thriving arts community contributing to the growing economy.

It’s also home to a developing specialty coffee scene. Let’s take a closer look at where to get a great cup of coffee in Santiago.

Lee este artículo en español Un Recorrido Por Las Tiendas de Café Especial de Santiago, Chile

A view of Santiago, Chile. Credit: Alisha Lubben

Why These Five?

Chile’s specialty coffee scene is growing at a remarkable pace. We’re seeing new coffee shops open, new roasteries be established, and meeting new baristas with fresh ideas. But among this growing scene, there are some cafés that stand out. These five were selected for their dedication to quality, customer service, and genuine passion for coffee.

1. Black Mamba

This beautiful project seeks to merge quality food with specialty coffee. Owners Paloma and Nicolas lived in Australia for a few years, where they worked as baristas. Upon returning to Chile, they created Black Mamba with the idea of ​​sharing their experiences and love of coffee.

Their passion is evident in the details, from the locally made ceramic cups to the wide and elongated bar that allows better interaction. Paloma tells me that a fundamental part of their concept is being close to people and sharing information about coffee. Here, you won’t only learn about origin and profile, but can also find out who roasted the beans in the brew you’re drinking. Nicolas tells me that sharing information about roasters is “something that we like to highlight… we change roasters periodically as a way to support them and make them known.”

You may also like A Specialty Coffee Shop Tour of Guadalajara, Mexico

Owners Paloma and Nicolas at Black Mamba. Credit: Black Mamba

WhereRomán Díaz 117, 7500618
AtmosphereFriendly and casual
Espresso MachineLa Marzocco Linea PB
GrinderMahlkönig K30
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks and filter coffee made with a rotating selection from specialty roasters.
Must-Try DrinkFlat white, chai latte
Food & Other DrinksLunch and breakfast menus including tostadas avocado, banh mi, and burgers, house-blended teas.
Nearby SightsPublic spaces including the Plaza de la Aviación and riverside Parque Balmaceda

2. Barra Fundición

If, like me, specialty coffee led you to take more interest in high-quality and handmade products, Barra Fundición is the perfect place for you.

Much more than a coffee shop, this is an emporium where you can find all kinds of food items made by local producers and collectives. Come here for honey from urban beehives, delicious sourdough, artisan cheeses, and bags of ground coffee from a range of local roasters. Then stay a while to share a cheese board or enjoy toast with poached eggs.

The small space is organized around a beautiful bronze bar. Arye, one of the collaborators behind Barra Fundición, tells me that it’s intended to “evoke the old and classic way of facing a bar, where the barista and the customer generate a dialog around coffee and are a kind of laboratory for different ways to consume it”.

So don’t be shy when you stop by. Go straight to the bar and ask what’s new to try. The excellent baristas will create the perfect drink for you.

Inside Barra Fundición. Credit: Barra Fundición

WhereMiguel Claro 1873
AtmosphereMinimalist but welcoming
Espresso MachineSan Remo Zoe
GrinderSan Remo
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks and filter coffee: V60, Chemex, Kalita, Delter, among others
Must-Try DrinkEspresso tonic, flat white
Food & Other DrinksSandwiches, cheese boards, charcuterie
Nearby SightsBarrio Italia with its shops, restaurants, and bars

3. Café Triciclo

Since its inception in 2013, this café has been through a few iterations. Founder Sebastian Álvarez started out with a literal coffee tricycle – a mobile coffee bar that toured around the city. Then, he set up shop in Barrio Italia, one of the most iconic neighborhoods of Santiago. Today, Café Triciclo is in the central area and is one of the best-known coffee shops in the city.

In 2017, the same team opened a roastery named 3 Ciclos in tribute to the three business phases their project had passed through to date. Sebastian tells me that “until now it has been a very good experience, we have been growing slowly but steadily. Learning a lot from each grain and each process.”

The café is cozy and welcoming, with different spaces ensuring there’s something for everyone.

Come here for delicious coffee cocktails or to sample the full food menu.

The bar at Café Triciclo. Credit: Café Triciclo

WhereVicuña Mackenna 38
Espresso MachineLa Marzocco Linea EE 2 Groups 
GrinderMazzer Robur
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks and filter coffee made with house-roasted beans
Must-Try DrinkThe Bitches Brew (cold brew negroni)
Food & Other DrinksSandwiches and brunch, including vegetarian and vegan options, beer
Nearby SightsPublic spaces including Plaza Baquedano and Parque Bustamante, Museo Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, former artistic residence Casa de los Diez

4. Café Cahve

Being at Café Cahve is like being at home, surrounded by friends and with endless conversation around cups of coffee. Owner Pablo opened the space in 2016 with his father, Eric. Today it is one of the best-known places in the Maipú area.

More than a coffee shop, this is a cultural hub and meeting place. Come here for art workshops, photography exhibitions, storytelling sessions, and live jazz bands.

The food menu features sandwiches prepared with Italian-style breads and novel fillings. Make sure to try the Picanton, which is made with goat cheese, merken (chili pepper), avocado, and palm hearts.

Since 2018 Café Cahve has collaborated with local roastery Lúdico Tostaduria. In fact, there’s even a roaster in the heart of the café so you can see the process first-hand as you enjoy a coffee.

Owner Pablo behind the bar at Café Cahve. Credit: Tamarah Gonzalez

WherePrimera Transversal 2227, Maipú
AtmosphereCozy and welcoming
Espresso MachineNuova Simonelli Appia II
GrinderNuova Simonelli MDX
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks and filter coffee made with house-roasted beans
Must-Try DrinkNutella latte
Food & Other DrinksOriginal sandwiches and lots of cake options
Nearby SightsOutside of the major tourist sites but close to the historical site of Plaza De Armas De Maipú

5. Justicia

The name of this place clearly represents its mission: to do justice to real food.

Founders Coni and Marcela opened the space in 2018 and have helped to transform the local area. In addition to the excellent coffee, the healthy menu attracts a mixed crowd. Students and professors from the nearby university join office workers here during the week. At weekends, people come for brunch offerings such as the delicious French toast with fruit and honey.

Make sure to try the affogato with condensed milk ice cream or one of the fresh juices.

The counter at Justicia. Credit: Justicia

WhereValenzuela Castillo 1291
Espresso MachineNuova Simonelli Appia II Compact
GrinderNuova Simonelli MDX
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, V60, Chemex
Must-Try DrinkAffogato with condensed milk
Food & Other DrinksHealthy lunch, breakfast, and brunch options
Nearby SightsClose to the international Museum of Chile, Parque Inés de Suárez

Santiago’s specialty coffee scene is quickly diversifying, but these five places provide an overview of the dedication to coffee here. If you have chance to check out more, stop by any of the following: Coffee Culture Coffee Roasters in Maipú, Colmado Coffee & Bar in Barrio Lastarria, Sur Café in Bellas Artes, and Original Green Roasters in Parque Bustamante.

Enjoyed this? You may also like Micro Roasts & Coffee Imports: Introducing Chile’s Roasting Scene

Feature image: A cappuccino at Black Mamba. Feature image credit: Black Mamba

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

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