Many people scratch their heads in wonder. How Francisco Pizarro chose Lima as the location for the administrative nerve centre of the Spanish Empire in South America? With grey skies and a desert-like landscape, this is a city that lost out in the ‘location, location, location’ stakes. However, what it lacks in physical and scenic beauty is made up for by a world-class food culture. Also, as the capital of one of the largest exporters of organic coffee, there are plenty of places to enjoy spectacular coffee. Despite the greyness, the coffee scene in Lima may be one of the highlights of your trip to Peru.
Great coffee but the service…
Tostadería Bisetti may suffer from its stellar reputation as the birthplace of quality coffee in Peru. Recommended by the owner of the excellent D’Wasi Coffee Shop in Cusco, my expectations were sky-high prior to arriving. Given that it preceded all of its high-end rivals and acted as a training ground for some of their owners, it was an obligatory starting point on a coffee tour of Lima.
Located on a corner opposite the main park in Barranco, it immediately announces itself as a coffee Mecca with a roasting area to the left of the main entrance. Coffee grinders adorn the walls and there are photos of different brewing methods everywhere you look. However, what it possesses in style is not necessarily matched in substance. The staff was unable to tell me much about the provenance of the coffee and the Aeropress that I ordered took forever to arrive. Then, it was served in a cup (with no sign of the Aeropress). When I inquired about the cakes I was told to look at the counter, which I did, only to turn around to see another server taking away my coffee.
Let’s just hope that I caught them on a bad day.
Av. Pedro de Osma 116, Barranco (Cafebisetti.com)
Mon-Thurs 8am-10pm/ Fri 8am-11pm/ Sat 9am-10pm/ Sun 2pm-10pm
La Bodega Verde
Cool teahouse with great coffee
La Bodega Verde, nearby in Barranco, is more of a teahouse than a hipster coffee joint. Based around a garden with parasols, the interior is the perfect place to relax on a grey day. The sofas literally invite you to pause and linger. It’s hardly surprising that it attracts a wide range of locals and tourists who come here to chat and even play chess. They provide the chess sets provided, so there is no need to bring your own. Unlike other places, La Bodega Verde even manages to feel cosy and inviting at busy times. Also, the smooth milky cappuccino would not be out-of-place in any specialist coffee shop. However, if you’re in the mood for a bit of lush luxury, try out the chocolate submarine (for the uninitiated, it’s a bar of chocolate melted in a glass of warm milk).
Grau 1511, Barranco (labodegaverde.com)
Cate Tasting Rooms
Kickstart your morning at Cate Tasting Rooms
Wood and glass combine to form the Spartan look at Cate Tasting Rooms, a cool coffee destination in Miraflores. Apart from high-quality coffee beans from the Cusco and Cajamarca regions, they also retail Cacaosuyo, a high-end Peruvian chocolate. Not only is the staff knowledgeable about the products they sell, but they are also willing and able to answer your questions. On my visit, I tried a Bourbon from Cajamarca prepared using a ‘clever’ coffee dripper ( a pour-over drip method similar to a V60). The result was an intense flavour with a strong caffeine kick. It was the perfect way to combat a grey morning in Lima.
Independencia 269, Miraflores (cateperu.com)
Mon-Sat 8am -8pm
Puku Puku Café
Despertemos al mundo…
Let’s wake the world up…
The slogan simultaneously announces the green theme and mission of Puku Puku Café. Located on a quiet side street in Miraflores and easy to miss when passing, their aim is to provide an environment in which coffee drinkers can enjoy an organic, environmentally friendly beverage. With this in mind, all the coffee is sourced directly from the producer, Luis Antonio Suarez of Unión Las Mercedes, San Ignacio, Cajamarca.
However, there is even more to this café than meets the eye. Pet owners are encouraged to come along, smokers are tolerated provided that they smoke outside and all of the furniture is made from recycled materials. For example, according to the barista, the chairs may be made from recycled doors. Afraid of a caffeine overdose by the time I got there, I ordered an Americano, but this too had a full flavour and a strong caffeine kick. My corner seat proved to be a great place to chillax and the chat and laughter of the staff in the background provided the perfect soundtrack.
Narciso de la Colina 297, Miraflores (Facebook page)
Mon- Sun 7am-9pm
Hidden but worth finding
Some Internet reviewers refer to it as Café Oculto ( Hidden Café), but it’s easy enough to find once you know where to look- find the main KFC in central Miraflores and it is located in the small street directly behind. Caficulto has a laidback, left of centre feel (personally, I loved the ‘COMIDA NO BOMBAS LIMA’ flyer. By the time I got here I was already on a big caffeine high, so I ordered a latte and a serrano sandwich, which was served in olive bread with a light coating of olive oil. Let’s just say that I now understand the city’s stellar reputation among foodies all over the world.
Pasaje Tello 163, Miraflores (Caficulto.com)
True Artisan Café
Don’t forget the Italians!
This Italian style café has a long bar counter dominated by its Marzocco Strada Espresso machine. In addition to selling a huge range of coffees, they also have cakes, cookies and pastries to complement their drinks. Speaking of drinks, the cold brews (Americano and latte) are standouts and it is a pleasure to watch the care and attention that the barista puts into each one. True Artisan Café works directly with producers in Cajamarca and Villa Rica and their coffee beans can be either a great gift or a great memory of the coffee scene in Lima. Either way, lift your grey day with coffee brewed the best Italian way.
Bolivar 157, Miraflores (Facebook page)
Mon- Sat 7am-10pm Sun 9am-7pm
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This article is now available for download on GPSMyCity. To experience it as a walking tour, please click here.