Image: Jenn Duncan

Back in the 1990s, during a shift at a long-gone Montrose café, Antonio Villalobos noticed a Mexican co-worker adding chocolate and spices to his coffee. Villalobos, who’s from El Salvador, was unfamiliar with this creation. He tried a Mexican mocha and fell in love.

Nearly 30 years later, inside Villalobos’s Campesino Coffee House, a cozy bungalow on Waugh Drive offering Latin-style coffee drinks, the drink has reemerged as the Maya Mocha. The barista shakes melted chocolate with cayenne, cinnamon, and paprika before stirring in espresso and steamed milk and adding a cinnamon stick. Served in a rustic clay mug decorated with flowers, the warm, creamy drink with a nice kick is the perfect antidote to holiday stress.

The test, however, comes when Mexican families visit the shop. Grandparents, especially, smile at the bright-yellow walls and comfy living-room feel before getting serious. Does the Maya Mocha taste like they remember it? “If I’m claiming I’m authentic, this abuelito is coming in and is gonna put me to task,” says Villalobos.

The good news: Those abuelitos say Campesino gets the delicious, toasty drink just right, transporting them right back to their childhood homes. Fitting for this time of year.

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