The One-Hour Cup of Coffee

henry apr27 coffee.jpg

Photo by Terrence Henry


Buenos Aires is a great coffee city. No, you won't find myriad varieties of beans here, or some great technological advance in the brewing process, but this is a city that knows the art of drinking coffee well, if not the perfect technique to brew it.

In Buenos Aires, you don't get a 20-ounce latte in a to-go cup, in fact there is nearly no coffee to-go in the city, except for a chain of coffee shops called Havanna that offer the amenity. But very few take them up on it (and those that do tend to get strange looks from passers-by).

Instead, coffee here is enjoyed slowly, at a sidewalk cafe, sitting still, in an actual mug, with no plastic lid getting in the way. Throughout the day, locals take their time with it, chatting up friends, admiring the street scenes, or reading the newspaper. Coffee here is a more measured decision, because instead of five minutes you are more likely to spend an hour with your cup.

The coffee is strong, and best enjoyed in smaller quantities--the cortado is my favorite, an espresso with just a spoonful of steamed milk on top (identical to the drink of the same name in Spain). Others prefer the inverse, the lagrima, which is a cup of steamed milk with just a spoonful of espresso (lagrima is Spanish for "teardrop"). There's also cafe con leche, cappuchino, and a wonderful take on hot chocolate called submarino (which I'm saving for a later post).

Coffee here is a more measured decision, because instead of five minutes you are more likely to spend an hour with your cup.

The best cafes in Buenos Aires are the ones that give you a gratis treat to accompany your coffee. At our favorite, De Cata (pictured above), your cortado will arrive with a small plate with a small brownie with a raspberry jelly and butter-crumb topping, along with a sugared orange peel. There's also a small shot glass of mineral water to wash it all down at the end. Other cafes will give you a few butter cookies, a small slice of pound cake, or a small, sweet croissant called a medialuna ("half-moon").

The sidewalk cafes here aren't all sunshine, however--safety concerns prevent you from using your laptop outside (purse- and laptop-snatching at cafes is sadly not that uncommon here), so while I'd like to be writing this with a cortado at my side, instead I'm at home, in the kitchen. But as soon as I'm done, it's over to De Cata for my fix. I'll see you in an hour.

De Cata Reposteria Boutique
670 Soldado de la Independencia
Las Canitas, Buenos Aires
4773-9054

Corby Kummer responds with a very different approach:
In Italy, it's a One-Minute Cup

Presented by

Terrence Henry

Terrence Henry is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas. More

Terrence Henry is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas. In January 2009, he and his wife embarked on a food tour of Argentina, Spain, Italy, England, Canada, and the United States. Some 13 months later he settled in Austin, where he is now learning the art of Texas barbecue and writing about food and film.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Health

Just In