Café de Olla

There are certain universal truths about coffee etiquette: never order a cappuccino after dinner (order the espresso) and adding a little smooch of booze to your cup of joe is the kind of cross-pollinating of stimulants we can endorse. Enter Café de Olla, a delicious Mexican coffee concoction that pushes the primordial yes button on your frowny face. Enjoy it straight or add the mezcal and you’ll be transported, delighted, and warmed from head to toe.


4 cups water
3 ounces piloncillo (raw pure cane sugar)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
1 star anise
5 tablespoons dark roast ground coffee

1 ounce mezcal reposado (rested in oak for at least two months but not longer than a year)


  • Add water, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and star anise to a pot

  • Place over medium-high heat and stir until the piloncillo completely dissolves and the water comes to a boil.

  • Remove from the heat and the coffee

  • Steep for 6 to 8 minutes

  • Strain coffee into a mug

  • Add mezcal (optional)


Piloncillo can be found at most grocery stores in the Latin American food section or specialty food stores.

Café de Olla is best when prepared in a traditional ceramic or Mexican “barro” vessel.

Story and Recipe by Gabe Gomez

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