Café de olla sounds so much better than its English translation, “coffee from a clay pot,” but no matter how you say it, it’s worth seeking out. And for our money, you can’t do much better than La Guadalupana’s take on the historic beverage.
Coffee first made its way to Mexico through the port of Veracruz in the 1700s, when French immigrants brought it from Cuba. The origin of café de olla, however, can be traced to the Mexican Revolution, which started in 1910 and lasted for a solid decade. During those chaotic years, female soldiers supported their male counterparts by preparing café de olla in large clay pots, adding cinnamon, cloves, piloncillo (unrefined sugar), and semisweet Mexican chocolate to strong coffee. This helped sustain the troops, who drank it at breakfast, as it was both filling and energy-boosting.
Trancito Diaz, owner of La Guadalupana, has been making café de olla since his restaurant and bakery opened in 1999, but not in a clay pot. He imports a strong, dark cinnamon-flavored Arabica coffee from Puebla, one of the four traditional coffee-growing regions of Mexico. The drink goes down well with any of the many pan dulce (sweet bread) offerings available at the bakery, whether you go for a raspberry-filled turnover or a Florentino bar, composed of a firm base of puff pastry topped with a nougaty mixture of soft caramel and finely chopped almonds.
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