Afang soup (gnetum)
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What: Oaxaca keeps company with Chiapas and Veracruz as a top coffee-producing state in Mexico. But don’t expect to get good coffee everywhere you go—like Colombia, Mexico exports much of its best product, and in many cafes and markets, you’ll be served regular old Nescafé. In Oaxaca, you can rest assured you’ll get a high-quality cup (or bag) if you seek out La Pluma coffee, from a cooperative of growers in the mountainous Oaxacan village of Pluma Hidalgo. With La Pluma, you know you’re getting organic, fair-trade, hand-selected, sun-dried coffee beans from slow-growing arabica trees—which translates to auténtico Mexican coffee: rich, smooth, wake-up-your-senses satisfying.
Where: La Pluma is the coffee of choice at the trendy Café La Antigua (951-516-5761; Reforma 401, map), which is owned by a coffee grower and roasts beans in-house.
When: Mon-Sat, 9am-11pm
Order: Un café, for a cup (19p), or buy a bolsa to take home (¼ kg/8.8 oz. for 37p; ½ kg/17.6 oz. for 72p; 1 kg/35.3 oz. for 132p). For a shot at keeping your coffee purchase at its freshest, be sure the bag is not marked molido, or ground.
Alternatively: Café Nuevo Mundo (M. Bravo 206, map) is another great coffee shop and artisanal coffee roaster, for whom sustainability and freshness are priorities: Beans are roasted in small batches daily in-house. It sells La Pluma coffee, among others from Oaxaca and Chiapas.
Good to know: Café de olla (“coffee of the pot”) is hands-down the best caffeinated drink in not only Oaxaca, but all of Mexico. The recipe is simple—coffee, indeed made in a pot, is brewed with cinnamon and piloncillo, a raw brown sugar—and the resulting beverage is strong, sweet, smooth, and utterly drinkable. Look for it around town; we found some at El Mesón (951-516-2729; Hidalgo 805, map) for 19p.
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