Day 46: Coffee in Antigua

Overland miles: 3836 Tacocount: 53 Days without Sodas: 4 

Although – to our surprise – we’ve been able to get a semi-decent brew (cup of tea) throughout our trip so far, the same could not be said for the coffee we’ve found. I suppose that shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise in Mexico, which isn’t known for its coffee production. Although here I should give a shout out to the Nomandi Cafe in San Cristobal de las Casas, where we found a darn fine cappuccino laced with cinnamon:

Cappuccino con Canela

Guatemala produces some of the finest coffee in the world, but unfortunately for travellers most of it is exported oversees, meaning that what’s served in cafes and restaurants tends to be more than a little bitter – while at the same time never quite giving you the hit of the whole bean. But we’d heard that Antigua was home to some of the few places in the country serving the real thing, and having not found many options in our trusty generic backpackers’ budget guidebook, decided to dive into the backstreets and follow our noses to the finer black stuff.

As luck would have it, we found what we had been looking for a few blocks away from our hostel. At first glance, just a hole-in-the-wall joint, the Fat Cat Coffee House not only offered a stonkingly tasty range of breakfast bagels (the chicken club with cream cheese being our favourite) it also served up the finest cafe con leche we’ve had the pleasure of tasting since we we started our voyage.

With a nutty, rich aroma wafting enticingly into our olfactory senses, we took a deep slurp of coffee and immediately realised we’d struck gold (but definitely not Gold Blend). It was a swirling vortex of velvet-smooth goodness, accompanied by the sort of caffeine hit that feels like a gentleman’s handshake rather than a rough kick in the particulars.

Intrigued, we asked the friendly baristas about the origin of the blend we were drinking. They turned out to be extremely knowledgeable as well as happy to let us abuse their language at great length, and in due course, we discovered that it was a medium-strong roast using ‘green’ beans from a plantation just outside Antigua, which are harvested at a particular time to capture their rich flavour, and create the perfect blend. In fairness, we hadn’t had better outside Venice.

Cafe con Leche and Chicken Club bagel

We noticed a fellow blogger’s enthusiastic review proudly pinned to the wall, heartily recommending this place to their travellers and bigging up their cappuccino in particular, so we attempted to drop by again on the afternoon we were due to leave Antigua, to see if we could take one away on our shuttle bus to San Pedro La Laguna. Alas, dear reader, we were out of luck: they were shutting up as we passed, and we had to make due with some ‘Bimbo’ pan de canelas (cinnamon rolls) from the convenience shop next door (the next best thing to go after a good cup of coffee).

And so the quest for a good cup of coffee continues…With the Spanish lessons we’ve signed up for in San Pedro starting at 8am, we’re going to need it.

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2 responses to “Day 46: Coffee in Antigua

  1. All our coffee’s from Guatemala darling, from Monmouth in Covent Garden doncherknow. It’s called Finca La Pina or something, look it up. Loving the blog still, it’s nice living the trip vicariously from my desk here. We’ll be packing up in less than a week and moving back North a week on Saturday. Love to you both xx

    • Hey Bransby, La Pila coffee sounds lush: I should have mentioned that we are currently in the Guatemalan highlands, and indeed Antigua is at around 2,000 metres, which kinda explains why the coffee we had at Fat Cat and the stuff you’re necking of a Mon morning with an organic muffin in one hand and a crisp copy of the Guardian in the other taste so blimmin’ good. But hey, those days are going to be well behind you in a weeks’s time: better get a taste for bread and dripping, chip butties with gravy and a can of Boddies for breakfast. All the best for the move to you both xx

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