Luis Garcia
November 14, 2014

For many travelers, coffee shops offer windows onto the local culture. Italians, for example, quickly drink their strong espresso while standing up before heading to work in the morning; in old-school Vienna coffee houses, patrons can linger for hours over coffee, pastries and reading material. In Mexico City, coffee shops are social hangouts for people from all walks of life, from teenagers drinking sweet frappe concoctions (with very little actual coffee in them) and freelancers working on their laptops to groups of friends having a catch-up session and business people dropping by for a quick afternoon pick-me-up.

Although these days, the city (like so many others around the world) is lined with coffee chain franchises, a good number of independent cafés still happily stand their ground, serving drinks made with the finest beans (from states like Veracruz and Chiapas), along with fresh-made pastries, and lots of local warmth and charm.

Café Toscano

This bright, welcoming coffee shop boasts a homey decor and communal table, perfect for breakfast with friends (omelets, fresh pastries, Nutella crêpes) or hanging out with a book while sipping on Illy coffee. Its location, right by Plaza Rio de Janeiero, is great for watching the local crowds.

Cielito Querido

“Here, we just call it small,” reads the cheeky copy on the paper cups at this colorful and very Mexican answer to coffee mega-chains, which now boasts more than 30 locations all over town. Beans here come from Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz, and go into house creations like cappuccino with cajeta or café de olla (served with cinnamon and whole cane sugar). 

Joselo Café (formerly Café Europa)

This small, cozy coffee shop has been a Polanquito favorite for years—not just because of its convenient location right by Parque Lincoln, but because of its excellent espresso and cappuccino made with toasted beans from Chiapas. Grab your chai latte and a slice of carrot cake and head to the park to watch the afternoon go by.

Café Passmar

The state of Guerrero—where the owners are from—provides the aromatic and delicious coffee beans that are brewed into steaming cups of joe at this tiny coffee stand inside Mercado Lázaro Cárdenas. You can’t go wrong with their excellent macchiato or café latte—and you’ll definitely appreciate the super-cute, latte art designs that the baristas create atop each cup.

Café Avellaneda

Quiet and peaceful, this turquoise-walled neighborhood café will make you wish you lived in Coyoacán. Let the friendly baristas help you choose your beans from places like Oaxaca or Chiapas, and then decide the preparation method, like AeroPress or French press. Don’t worry, though; pretty much every option is yummy.

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