Friday, December 10, 2010

Coffee Bogota Style

Since arriving into Bogota, Colombia about a week ago, I've been overwhelmed with all the new sights, sounds, smells, and flavors of the place. In other words, watch out for lots of new stories at!

As you might know, I'm addicted to coffee; even more than eggnog. I just love the stuff. I can drink it pretty much all day so I was excited, after living in the land of tea for a while, to finally get to visit another (if not THE) coffee capital of the world. So, how do people who live in Bogota get their daily fix? I was curious so I've been looking around and took a bunch of pictures as I encountered different places selling coffee throughout the city.

First off, as background, I've learned two general terms for ordering coffee. The first is "tinto", which means black coffee usually with sugar added and, second, "cafe" (Spanish for coffee), which is coffee with milk/cream. You can buy it almost everywhere (!!!) because people make the coffee, put it into thermoses, and take it into the streets. Here's some folks in downtown Bogota taking their coffee break near an impromptu coffee shop:

The coffee in the street is generally served in small (probably three-ounce) plastic cups. It costs about 1000 Pesos Colombian ($0.50 U.S.) per cup and is better than you'd expect. As you move out from the center of the city, the coffee vendors seem to be more and more mobile. Here's a bicycle-based stand that also sells aromaticas, which are tea or fruit-juice-like hot beverages made with a variety of ingredients like fruit, mint, and so on:

The format is usually similar. Plastic thermoses, small plastic cups, sugar, and some milk. This cart is not quite as mobile as the one above but it gets the job done...

My favorite stand so far has been this car-looking one complete with steering wheel that works. The guy next to me in the photo is the salesman. He's a bit cleaner cut and more stylish than some I've seen but he fits the gender and age bracket for almost everyone selling coffee in the street.

Finally, if you just need to get your latte on, fear not, you're in luck if you head over to a local Juan Valdez Cafe. They're in every mall here and they have lots of stand-alone stores too. Everyone I've seen so far is almost, if not completely packed with customers. They sell lattes, frozen-coffee drinks, baked goods (sound familiar?) and they even have a gift shop in each one. If you're interested in some JV product, send me an email and I'll see what I can do.

I'm planning on going to the coffee-growing area while I'm here in Colombia. I've already been to the coffee regions in Guatemala and Hawaii so I'm looking forward to being in the mountains learning more about the stuff. I'm hoping one day to actually be able to make a consistent cup of decent coffee. Until then, I'll be chasing down a coffee guy in the street.


  1. Looks like that vendor with the car has the same boots you got in Chiquinquirá! Stylin' for sure!

  2. I'm definitely rockin' the local's look with my new boots!


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