I’ll admit it. As much as I tried not to arrive in Buenos Aires with any pre-conceived notions about what it would be like, I was harboring one or two. I came face to face with the first when I woke up in our new apartment. Giddy with the excitement of being in a whole new world, I was anxious to brew a cup of strong, delicious coffee with this strange coffee-making contraption (which I’ve since learned is a moka pot) and relax on the terrace we’d always longed for.
I expected that learning to use this new pot would be the most challenging part of the process. Alas, it was not. Choking down the results was worse.
At the risk of sounding superior, I’m about to make a sweeping generalization: the coffee here sucks.
Perhaps it’s the embarrassing tendency many people in the States have of lumping all things south of the border into one category (ick), but I had unknowingly just assumed that the coffee would be amazing. The first time I raised the cup to my lips, I was convinced I’d done something wrong. It can’t possibly be THAT bad….can it? Watery and bitter, no amount of sugar or hot frothy milk could save it.
So of course, I turned to the interwebs for answers. Gringo In Buenos Aires has an excellent blog post on the topic that answered many of the questions clouding my caffeine-deprived brain.
As the Gringo notes, the coffee culture here is pretty delightful. In most cafés, your coffee order brings with it a side of soda water and a plate of cookies (!!!) and you’re welcome and expected to hang out for as long as you like. The taste of that coffee is hit or miss. But hello, did I mention the plate of cookies?
Really, my issue is more with the availability of good coffee to make at home. I’ve never been a huge fan of take-out coffee, and if I’m at a café chances are I’m sipping something with an alcohol content. I prefer to enjoy my daily cup of joe at home in my PJ’s, whether I’m getting ready for work or enjoying a lazy weekend morning. Back in the USA, we had a Keurig (I miss you, you gorgeous magic machine!) as well as a coffee grinder. We were spoiled. Similar options exist here, but as anyone who’s purchased electronics in this country can attest, one does not necessarily get what one pays for. And I’ve grown to love my trusty moka pot.
As for tracking down quality beans, most of the supermarkets carry coffee labeled torrado, meaning the beans have been roasted with sugar unlike what we’re used to in some other countries. I’m not sure how that process results in a more bitter taste, but trust me, it sure does.
Thankfully, there ARE other options, it just takes some looking around and some extra pesos. Gaspar came across Est. General de Cafe (Lavalle 1701, Microcentro) and we will never again brew some nasty Cabrales in our little moka pot. The shop offers a variety of blends from throughout South America and Africa that range from sort of pricey to reeeeally pricey. But the quality is outstanding, and every time he picks up more I can smell the deliciousness before he even walks in the door. Worth it, for a cup of happiness every morning.
Any other suggestions for where to find good coffee beans in Buenos Aires?