A good cup o' joe can make or break a coffee lover's day. Whether you are sitting on a plastic chair and table in Peru or at a slick downtown café in Buenos Aires with knowledgeable baristas – a good cup of coffee does not only depend on the ambiance, view, price or the people who serve. To me it is all about the temperature-it has to be hot if it is hot coffee, dark roast and the aroma.
What makes a cup of coffee good and satisfactory? For answers come along with me to 17 places that serve great coffee.
One: Emporio la Rosa, Santiago Chile
This is the café I had my first cup of coffee in South America. Emporio la Rossa serves espresso with a glass of water and a complimentary cookie. It started out as a place selling gourmet food and due to popular demand for freshly brewed coffee, tea and sandwiches the café side of the business was born. The draw to this place is mainly for the gelato.
Emporia del Rosa has a few locations. We were at the original location in Parque Forestal with an outdoor seating area under colorful umbrellas and short trees. My cup of espresso was hot, dark and served in a miniature sized cup with a saucer.
Two: El Desayunador in Valparaiso ChileCerro Conception and Cerro Alegre area of Valparaiso has many coffee shops catered to locals and tourists. One such place with a strong scent of coffee even from the outside was El Desayunador. They serve breakfast all day long. I consumed the espresso to the very last drop including the chocolate cookie that came with it. This café with rustic wooden chairs and tables is a simple place to stop by.
Three: History Coffee in Punta Arenas ChileHistory Coffee is the best coffee place in Punta Arenas, the southern-most city in Chile. The café has many dining rooms. Inside, the round tables are mostly small and you really need to whisper to your companion while sipping coffee or tea. The only sound we heard were the rattling sounds of saucers, cups and spoons. The espresso came with a glass of water and a cookie.
Now I was beginning to see a similarity in all cafés in Chile – espresso, clear glass of water and a cookie. All the cafés I visited had Wi-Fi too.
Four: Weskar Patagonia Lodge, Puerto Natales ChileEvery morning for five mornings in a row, we sat down with a cup of coffee and a view of Ultima Esperanza Fjord. This was the first place I had American hotel breakfast coffee.
Five: Cafe Blanco in Chiloe ChileThe Island of Chiloe is about two hours drive from Puerto Varas. Chiloe has more rainy than dry days. During my visit, it was foggy and rainy. The best way to make full use of our time in the rain was to hang out in a local café. Cafe Blanco serves cappuccino with a cookie. Their homemade desserts are a great accompaniment to the coffee. It is located a block from the Chiloe's main square. Service was slow.
Five: Mamuschka San Carlos de Bariloche, ArgentinaMamuschka in Bariloche is all about chocolate. My espresso was served in a beautiful red and white cup and saucer with gold trimming. Mamuschka has the aroma of chocolate more than coffee. The outdoor seating with red umbrellas, red director's chairs, wood tables and plants was the place to relax and people watch.
Six: Il Panino, MendozaI love the simple breakfast of espresso and two croissants in Mendoza at Il Panino. Located in the city center of Mendoza, this is a typical coffee shop in Mendoza. The croissants topped with sugar was the best accompaniment to a non-sugared hot cup of espresso.
Seven: Havana Cafe, MendozaPerhaps the best coffee is cafe cortado served in tiny glasses in Havanna Cafe with a havannet or alfajor. This was a very strong coffee espresso with condensed milk at the bottom. Mendoza's Havanna was the first of the many I visited in South America - I think at least 15 times in Argentina, Uruguay and Peru (Miraflores).
Eight: Porto Vanila Montevideo UruguayUruguayans like their teatime at 4 p.m. Cafes and restaurants have a special menu between the hours of 3-5 p.m. for tea and coffee drinkers along with sweet delicacies. Porto Vanila in Punta Caretas has hundreds of cakes, cookies, pies and sandwiches to choose from. The café's two floors of dining areas were always packed with locals.
Nine: Cafe Brasilero, Montevideo UruguayCafé Brasilero is the oldest café in Uruguay located in the old part of Montevideo. They serve a variety of coffee. Rather than the usual espresso that I had been having throughout our trip, I tried cartado, a frothy coffee with lots of milk. Uruguayans warm their milk for coffee just like other countries in South America. This vintage style restaurant with old wooden tables and chairs has a different vibe than many cafés in the modern part of Montevideo.
Though pricey I think it is worth a visit if you are there, either for breakfast or lunch. We went for lunch.
Ten: Take-out Coffee in Sao Paulo There is no lack of good coffee in Sao Paulo Brazil. Every restaurant and café has their own blend of coffee. Sao Paulo has it all. I thought I'd show photos of coffee in plastic cups, styroform cups and beautiful espresso cups. The fun thing about having coffee in Sao Paulo is the variety of pastries and Torresmo ou pururuca (a piece of fried dried pork) that were readily available everywhere in the city.
Eleven: Coffee Museum Santos BrazilA café inside a coffee museum in Santos with its own baristas, fresh coffee beans and coffee training school makes this place one of the most unforgettable coffee drinking experiences. I had a shot of Chapadao do Ferro which was only filled half full in a tiny cup. The other coffee was Alta Mogiana.Both are gourmet coffee from Brazil.
Twelve: Pergula Restaurant in Copacabana Palace Rio de JaneiroA cup of cappuccino or espresso with freshly baked goods by the relaxing poolside restaurant at the legendary Copacabana Palace was a perfect way to end a long day of sightseeing in Rio de Janeiro. It has an ambiance that allows you to think of all the comfort you can get by paying a little extra for a cup of coffee. Make sure you bring a pair of sunglasses if you are going to dine at the poolside area of the Pergula Restaurant on a sunny day.
Thirteen: Coffee at Asuncion Palace Hotel Asuncion ParaguayThe Asuncion Palace Hotel was once the home of Don Carlos A. Lopez, the youngest son of President Venancio Lopez. Built by an Italian architect, Alessandro Ravizza, the hotel's dining room where coffee and breakfast were served still has its old charm especially the presence of the old upright piano and antique radio. Music was played from that old radio. Their coffee is comparatively better than most hotels of the same class in South America.
Fourteen: Minuteman, Tonito Hotel Uyuni BoliviaIn a land where there is no McDonalds or Starbucks, the best coffee I had was at Minuteman, Tonito Hotel in Uyuni. The owner's husband is American and the coffee is just like home - Americano coffee. The pancakes with dulce de leche and bagels with cream cheese were the best in that part of the world.
Fifteen: Jack's Cafe in Cusco, PeruEveryone was talking about Jack's... so we went and were not disappointed at all with the cappuccino. It was only 5.50 soles (about $2). Jack's looks just like an American run café. It is not very difficult to find good coffee in Cusco Peru. There is a Starbucks and many more local run cafés with a view of the city's main square. It requires some walking on steep cobblestone streets to get to Jack's from the main square.
Sixteen: Cusco Coffee Company in Arequipa, PeruCusco Coffee in Arequipa has a Starbucks feel to it with free Wi-Fi, comfortable chairs and couches without the price tag. Their dessert is better than Starbucks - freshly baked chocolate cake and carrot cake. The cream and chocolate toppings on my cappuccino was enough to fill me up at 5 pm. I only needed a light dinner at 9 p.m. after that coffee.
Seventeen: Hosteria Duran in Banos de Cuenca, EcuadorBanos de Cuenca is a small town, about a 15 minute drive from Cuenca. The town is made popular by the hot springs and thermal baths. There are not too many amenities and most restaurants only cater to the locals. The Hosteria Duran is the only decent hotel in town and the restaurant serves good quality espresso in the highlands of Ecuador. The fun thing is at 3 p.m. - the usual teatime, we were the only guests. The place has free Wi-Fi and was only a 10 minute walk from our apartment.
Some coffee not mentioned here were served with the best views ever. Because of the issue of hygiene, service and quality I would rather not mention them here in this post.
Drinking coffee is a personal thing. Some people need it right after waking up to give them a little boost for the day. Others cannot survive through the day without a good cup o' joe. How about you?