Baristas take Note!
Updated: Mar 2, 2022
Forget pumpkin spice!! It’s so everywhere!
Café de Olla is the real and traditional bold coffee of Mexico. Lightly sweetened with Piloncilla, scented with cinnamon, star anise and clove this is the best way to start your day! Literally translated it means “coffee from the pot.” The perfume is just so delicious, it will fill your whole kitchen with the aromas. Talk about some morning bliss.
First to start, Piloncillo is a special kind of sugar that has a natural caramel flavor, you can find the cones of this natural sugar on Amazon or in Asian markets. This is not your processed sugar – this is all natural.
It is said that this rural treat is a concoction made by mothers and grandmother, each with their own special recipes, some with a hint of orange or chocolate. Supposedly during the Mexican revolution in 1910, locals would have supported the soldiers cooking in the field to help the soldiers’ energy. As in Miami, we have our Café con Lecha that fuels us, in Mexico this is their own remedy.
I was introduced to this at La Cocina de Dona Esthela, a most iconic restaurant in Valle de Guadalupe, northern Baja. It is a mothers cooking for sure. Jordana Wolff escorted us for a truly traditional Mexican breakfast while we were visiting the wineries in the area. We are not talking about just fried eggs – we are talking about fluffy elote (corn) pancakes, hand-crafted flour tortillas pressed and grilled, platters of Huevos a la Mexicana; scrambled eggs with tiny tender chunks of peppers, onions and tomatoes, and then huge of pile of savory meat that has been simmered underground for hours, served with salsa and handmade tortillas. These hearty selections were meant for someone who is working the fields for twelve hours. Yet we indulged just the same. Weighing the guilt to the calories....we still went for the calories, the food was just too delicious.
In the Valle de Guadalupe there are many unpaved roads you will learn when trekking to wineries and restaurants, so it was no surprise when we turned off the highway on to a dirt road filled with pot holes, bumping along we finally pulled into a multi building complex that you can see has grown little by little. Even with the walkup window where Dona Esthela originally sold her burritos to the local workers, that is how it all started, they craved more and the word spread. Now her home has been turned into a large welcoming restaurant without pretensions. Rich, warm homemade meals come from her kitchen and she offers her famous breakfast options all day long. So if you run late, you can still savor her Huevos a la Mexicana– you can taste the passion and love on the plate, seriously.
Dona Esthela learned to cook as a child, she claims not to be a chef, yet the food from her kitchen is not just pure Mexican but pure delight, it ranks up there with the very best.
This is an authentic star not to be missed in the Valle de Guadalupe (Ranchos San Marcos)
Recipe for Café de Olla
6 cups of water
6 oz. piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
6 heaping Tablespoon of freshly ground coffee
FYI - Any not consumed hot is perfect iced with a dash of Kahlua in the late afternoon pick-me-up!