Coffee in Tijuana has a definite local flavor. The popular local drink is a concoction known as “café de la olla”, which is coffee with added milk, spices and sugar.
In Tijuana, coffee was traditionally primarily a morning drink. But as a 2013 OC Weekly article [July, 2013] by Dave Lieberman noted, the coffee culture sweeping across other parts of North America is trickling across the border into the Tijuana landscape. One local gem Lieberman found while exploring Tijuana was a cafe called Caffe Sospeso. “Caffe Sospeso — which takes its name from the Neapolitan pay-it-forward tradition of “suspended coffee”, where you pay for two coffees but only drink one, so that someone down on his or her luck can have a free coffee later — has been in Tijuana for 18 years, but has concentrated lately on changing the coffee culture on the south side of la línea,” Leiberman wrote.
Here, in place of the sweet, spicy, milky drink favored by locals, he found a more contemporary coffee experience, with cold-brewed pourover and French press coffee preparations showcasing the beautiful aromas of their carefully sourced beans.
So, for those who prefer their coffee dark and flavorful but not sweet and milky, the growth and popularity of modern venues such as Caffe Sospeso seems to be a good sign.
Tip: For those who do enjoy sweet, milky coffee with a hint of spice, why not try adding some cinnamon and perhaps a dash of agave syrup to your sachets of Gourmet Latte or Cafe Mocha — to create your own Tijuana style coffee experience at home.