Argentines are famous for their love of mate. However, if you find yourself yearning for the familiar caffeinated buzz of a double espresso, there’s plenty of good coffee to be found in the capital.
The most popular traditional Argentine coffees are small black coffees (café solos), small espresso coffees with milk (cortados- which also come in larger jarrito size), and larger coffees with milk (café con leches). While ordering a drink in under forty syllables might seem strange to the Starbucks fans among us, it turns out that here it is still possible to buy a drink without dictating what colour you want the foam.
In fact Argentine coffee has much to recommend it but seeking out variety in bean and blend can be tricky. This week’s top 5 takes a look at the best cafes for a coffee in Buenos Aires. We’ve taken account of the cafes with the best in variety well as the roasting, grinding and preparation processes. While our number one recommendation tops the chart for its focus on pure, high quality Colombian coffee, the other entries offer, quite literally, a world of choice.
Full City is a relatively new player on the Buenos Aires coffee scene. Set up in 2011 by Irish – Colombian couple Alan Jordan and Victoria Angarita, it has become a favourite among discerning coffee connoisseur for its dedication to pure, high quality raw ingredients served in an uncomplicated way.
Founder Victoria Angarita has lived with coffee ever since childhood. Her father owns a coffee school in Colombia and she spent a childhood surrounded by beans, grains and granules.
Full City aims for purity and simplicity, offering just three types of the freshest, highest quality Colombian coffee. Most coffee sold in Buenos Aires is a mix of beans from around the world but Full City coffees are all made with pure Guyatá, Excelso or organic beans, shipped from Colombia and available in full bean or ground form.
“Our coffee is 100% Colombian and we roast it slightly higher than they normally do here which gives it a perfect balance of acidity, aroma and body. This, along with a well prepared coffee makes for an excellent cup” says Angarita.
“The Guyatá is an exotic coffee with organic, citric notes” says Manager Julian Lea, “whereas the Excelso has more chocolatey notes and is better as an espresso.”
This isn’t the place to come if you want a mocha-soy-no-foam-cappu-latte; in many ways, that’s the best thing about it.
Address: Jorge Newberry 3663
Contact: email@example.com or 3038-3096
El Gato Negro is about as far away from Starbucks as you’re likely to find in Buenos Aires. In the place of swirly carpets and baristas asking for your name and email address are smart waiters and walls lined with jars of spices and exotic teas and coffees.
The lovingly maintained family business started out in 1929 as a spice shop and rows of intriguing powders and herbs still fill the giant room with delicious aromas. Original owner Victoriano Lopez Pobreado bought back coffees and teas from the salons of Spain and Paris and it is this history which creates the feel and atmosphere of the place. Today there are several different types of coffee bean on offer which are roasted, toasted and ground into high grade cortados and cafe con leches.
The different beans are broken down into the Caracolillo, Moka and Santos Cereza varieties from Brazil and the Colombia Uanes variety from Colombia. These beans are transformed into blends which range in flavour and strength. Fortunately, owner Jorge Crespo is on hand to lead you through the subtle differences between Caracolillo, Cinta Roja, Cinta Dorada and Santos Cereza. Crespo is the third generation of the Gato Negro clan fanatical about coffee.
“There are a lot of things to think about when making a good cup of coffee” says Crespo, “The key is the roasting and grinding but you have to start with a high quality ingredient.”
“If you put a dog in a pan you won’t come out with a fillet steak. If you put a fillet steak in a pan, you’ve got a much better chance of a good meal.” Quite…
Address: Av. Corrientes 1669
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 4374-1730
With over 30 different varieties of coffee available in every possible form, there should be no problem tracking down your favourite bean, grain or type of drink at Establecimiento General.
This gourmet coffee chain claims to offer the best variety in Buenos Aires, with beans arriving from at least six different countries including Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Ethopia and Guatemala. All varieties area available to bulk buy, as both whole beans and ground coffee.
It also offers more options than the usual choice, with ristrettos, cappuccino italianos and cappuccino argentinos (you can guess which one involves dulce de leche).
Despite going beyond the traditional Argentine coffee choices, the shop manages to steer clear of Costa Coffee territory. The Pueyrredón location is full of bustling office workers on laptops and the space is large, light and friendly, with sliding glass doors leading to a spacious garden area. Enormous coffee sacks adorn every available space not filled with chattering locals.
As well as serving coffee, the front of the cafe doubles up as a well stocked shop. It is full to the brim with coffee machines, sacks of coffee beans, and interesting looking implements you never knew you needed. You could probably make your morning coffee using a different method for every day of the week after a visit to this shop. However if you want to sit back and let someone else do the frothing, we won’t judge you.
This is the best of the large-scale coffee chains in Buenos Aires. It boasts a range of 16 different coffee grains, served in a pleasant, calm environment and has locations all over the city. For times when you want more choice than the nearby Havanna, the Coffee Store is the place to be.
The coffee here comes from locations all over the world – bought to Buenos Aires from Africa, Papua New Guinea, and South America. All the grains are 100% Arabica, said to produce a higher quality coffee in terms of grain and taste than other, more commonly used commercial species like the robusta.
The varieties are broken into three different groups: Los clásicos, los saborizados and decaffeinated. Types like the Costa Rica Tarrazú tend to be milder, but fragrant and full bodied, whereas coffees like the Hawaiian Kona Fancy are stronger and more concentrated.
This cafe is also mecca for anyone seeking a sugar hit. As well as offering the usual formats, it serves up novelty drinks like Honey coffee, with honey and cream, café bombón, with condensed and foamed milk and Manjar, with milk, chocolate sauce, grated chocolate and, of course, dulce de leche.
You can be assured, however, that care and attention is still paid to the humble cortado and with 17 branches across the city, there should always be a location nearby to get your Coffee Store fix.
While Full City prides itself on the purity of its coffee, La Bolsa de Café offers a range of blends, which, while not pure, are crafted in a way that makes them a competitive choice. With two locations in the capital in Caballito and Barrio Norte, this unassuming cafe provides a good range of coffee from its three different types of coffee bean, managing to create mixes which stay true to the integrity of their raw materials.
The interior in La Bolsa de Café certainly isn’t as dramatic as some other cafes in the capital but the coffee is good and very high value. Cafe solos come in jarrito form for just $10 and the usual suspects are all reasonably priced and simply but stylishly served.
La Bolsa de Café has been in business since 1922 and today creates 8 different blends from its three different coffee beans. It uses Brazil Santos Mogiana, Colombian Excelso beans and Minka espresso beans to create unique mixes ranging from a full bodied Barista espresso mix, made with Brazilian grains and toasted naturally to the Mountain blend, designed to be a complimentary balance between the Brazilian and Colombian beans.
As well as offering coffees, it also doubles up as a shop, selling bags of coffee beans, blends and various presses and machines. This is a good way to buy their unique blends, and certainly a good place to buy the equipment to brew them.
Av. Pueyrredón 1375
Contact: 4431 – 8101