This little coffee shop is ten paces from the front door of my apartment building. So naturally, I’m a bit prejudiced. But it’s unique in many ways. It’s furnished with a few small tables, a large leather sofa, and two big, comfy easy chairs. I love to sit by the front window, sinking into the cushions of that big chair, bathed by sunlight. It’s a far cry from the stylish, but usually uncomfortable chairs in the trendy, industrial designed coffee shops like nearby Negro or Estilo Barista. It has the feel of one of those private clubs for the rich guys where they sit and smoke pipes. It’s unique. And the coffee is a delicious, locally roasted blend, prepared flawlessly. Order a cappuccino or a latte and you get the smoothest, most luxurious foam you’ve ever seen. Darn good latte art too. Like Negro. It’s mostly about the coffee. Only a limited offering of breads, desserts and sandwiches. They do have a Saturday brunch, however.
Retiro and San Telmo
The Coffee Town location in San Telmo, is a stand-up and drink your coffee type of place. Not ideal for lounging around on a Saturday afternoon while reading La Nación and what Mr. Macri has planned to save the country from fiscal demise. But the recently opened location on Libertad (Recoleta/Retiro) has a few more places to sit and bright and cheery ambiance. Coffee Town sort of focuses on the “take it to-go” crowd. They specialize in coffee sourced from all over the globe but the house blend, served on Libertad, uses beans from Guatemala, Brazil and Colombia. They sell it brewed or espresso style or you can buy the beans in bags, ground to your specifications.
It’s probably more appropriate to call this place “Italian” Coffee Company. No drip coffee here. Only an Italian espresso machine spewing out nothing but Italian roasted Illy-brand coffee. It’s a large café, stylishly decorated. There are plenty of posters advertising the Illy brand and the shelves are stocked full of Illy coffee (they sell ground coffee and the pods). They offer an assortment of Argentine breads and pastries. But they also have a kitchen dishing out a limited number of high-quality salads, sandwiches and tartas (quiche). The Ensalada Mediterránea even made it onto our favorite salads list in Buenos Aires.
Full City Coffee House is owned by a couple, one from England, one from Colombia. In fact, her dad is a bit of a coffee celebrity back in Colombia. He’s a veteran barista and the proprietor of a school for baristas.
Full City roasts their own coffee. The coffee they sell in the café, including the bagged beans is all sourced in Colombia from various regions of the country. They sell the full range of espresso-based coffees and brew coffee using the about three separate brewing methods. And they offer a menu featuring a wide variety of breakfast items, sandwiches and salads. They even serve a full English breakfast, complete with baked beans.
Bogotá, as the name implies, focuses on Colombian coffee, although they do offer blends with beans sourced from other countries. The restaurant is beautifully designed and furnished, including featured artwork from local artists. Unlike many of our favorite coffee shops, Bogotá offers a full menu including breakfast, lunch and dinner items. It’s sleek contemporary style seems to be popular. The restaurant is frequently at or near capacity.
Retiro (Plaza San Martín) and Centro
Negro has smart, stylish décor, exposed brick walls, and the best USA classic rock and pop mixes of anywhere I’ve been in Buenos Aires. It’s very pleasant to sit there sippin’ a coffee and reading a magazine. The coffee, from local roaster, PuertoBlest, is a smooth and mild Central American blend that’s miles away from the more bitter Italian roasts you get in most of the city’s cafés. The only downside to this place is that they have a very limited offering of food for lunch or dinner. Just the typical array of breads and desserts and some pre-made salads and sandwiches. They also sell the full range of PuertoBlest beans by the bag. Ground at your request.
Ninina Bakery can claim something no other restaurant or café in the city of Buenos Aires can claim. It’s made it onto more of our list of “favorites” than any other place in the city. It’s on our list of best of breakfast spots, best casual dining, best salads, and bakeries. And now we’ve added it to our list of best cafés and coffee shops. They have a trained barista offering all the espresso favorites. Or they offer drip-style coffee, if that’s your bag. The house coffee is a mild blend from New Guinea, Ethiopia and Colombia, locally roasted.
Everything’s typically served in an efficient and friendly manner. The ambiance is fabulous. White subway tile walls. Everything clean and organized. A large room bathed with light from the windows at the front of the room spanning 7 to 8 meters in height. But be forewarned. This place is especially popular on weekends. Be prepared for a minor wait for a table mid-day on Saturday or Sunday and a slight degradation in service when the house is packed.
Oui Oui is a quaint and comfortable little café with white painted brick walls and salmon pink-colored picnic-style, folding tables and chairs. The music flowing out and enveloping the café is a medley of jazzy versions of old pop classics sung by a girl with one of those sexy, raspy, mousy voices. Everything is quite French. It’s a far cry from the new breed of industrial, loft-style cafés that seem to be all the rage. There’s just something about this place that comfy. It may not have specialty café swagger, but it’s still a great place for a cup of coffee.