In one of my previous blogs I mentioned Alejandro Chu, the owner of The Coffee Road coffee shop in Lima. Alejandro has turned The Coffee Road in one of the best coffee hotspots in Lima where you can enjoy a quality cup of Peruvian coffee in a setting that reminds everybody of their own living-room. But Alejandro wanted me to experience the coffee-culture of Lima and not just his place.
Alejandro invited me on a trip through Lima to visit his personal favourite coffee hotspots and I was happy to accept the invitation. We would be visiting 5 hotspots in total: Cafe Verde, Neira Cafe Lab, Tostaduria Bisetti, True Coffee and Origen Tostadoras de Cafe. At first it would only be Alejandro an me, but a change of events made it so that a colleague of mine joined in at the last moment. A guy who did not speak Spanish and knows almost nothing about coffee at all. But who cares, the more the merrier right?
Lima Hotspots: Cafe Verde
The first stop was Cafe Verde. Cafe Verde serves coffee from their own plantation: Cuchi Runtuchi. This plantation makes a blend from the tipica, catimor and pache plants and is a sustainable plantation. To make the espresso, Cafe Verde roasts their own coffee and if you are lucky you can witness the process when you are there. Cafe Verde makes use of a Synesso machine (the first Synesso in Peru) with the help of Karen Zevallos. Karen came in 4th at the first Peruvian women only Barista championships. She is considered a real talent and it shows when you drink one of her espresso’s.
Lima Hotspots: Neira Cafe Lab
The next stop was a real treat. Neira Cafe Lab was opened only 3 days earlier by owner and former Peruvian Barista champion Herrysson Neira. Herrysson told me that this shop was kind of an homage to his grandmother. He was raised by his grandparents in a small village up north. Since his grandparents owned a small coffee plantation, it isn’t weird to hear that his first cup of coffee came at the age of four. His grandmother not only worked at the plantation but also made bread for the whole village. She was known for the good quality of her bread and coffee and that is exactly what Herrysson stands for: no gimmicks, but bringing quality to the people, just like his grandmother did with her bread.
After our little chat I started chatting with a visitor who seemed to know Alejandro quite well. It turned out that Alejandro was not just a coffee shop owner, but a member of a small group that introduced speciality coffee to Lima. The guy I was chatting with turned out to be two time Peruvian Latte Art champion Anibal Kovaleff. Nowadays he works for La Marzocco and trains baristas in the art of Latte Art. Anibal asked if he could join us on our trip to the next hotspots, and so the fellowship of the bean was born.
Lima hotspots: Tostaduria Bisetti
After Neira Cafe Lab we set out to Tostaduria Bisetti in the Barranco area. Situated in the touristy area of Lima, Tostaduria Bisetti is a crowded place. This is a coffee shop catered to your wishes; a cool looking bar, nice memorabilia stacked around the place, a bar as well as a sitting area and last but not least: a window to check out their own coffee laboratory where employees are working on fine-tuning their blends and roasting abilities. After my introduction by Alejandro and Anibal we got offered a signature drink made of Nitro coffee. This was a pineapple-nitro cocktail and really blew our socks off! The people behind the La Marzocco machine are true artists and very approachable. I will most surely come back here again.
Lima Hotspots: True Cafe
On our way to True Cafe I had to confess to Anibal that my Latte Art skills are somewhat lacking. Since Alejandro is opening a training area in The Coffee Road next month it did not take long for us to make an appointment for me to take a Latte Art course with them next week. As we approached True cafe, Anibal also mentioned that he helped make the one and only speciality robusta blend in Lima. Taking arabica beans from Peru and mixing them with an Indian robusta bean, True cafe managed to create a strong but well balanced espresso. True Cafe happens to be owned by La Marzocco itself and has an amazingly beautiful custom made La Marzocco machine in their shop. True cafe earns the label hotspot for their robusta blend alone.
Lima Hotspots: Origen Tostadores de Cafe
Alejandro and Anibal saved a special place for last, and boy did they chose well. Origen Tostadores de Cafe is a tiny shop totally inspired by Star Wars. Everywhere you see the main characters of Star Wars picturing a different technique of making coffee. Yoda is doing Aeropress, Luke is in the middle of cupping, Darth Vader is practising latte art and even C3PO and R2D2 are found on posters in the establishment. After so much coffee we could use something to eat and drink. Not only the coffee is great at Origen, but the cheeseburger and the assortment of nitro-cocktails is amazing. Both the ginger-nitro and the orange-nitro was a success and made for a final toast.
The day closed to an end and our trip through Lima was over. We got to see the best coffee hotspots in Lima but that was not the most amazing part of the trip. The most amazing part was that I realized how hospitable the Peruvian people are. Alejandro and Anibal took two total strangers on a day-long trip through Lima, they did not ask for anything in return. After a day like this I realize how easily coffee can bring people together, make them connect and become friends by sharing the passion for the black gold. You should not visit those hotspots for their coffee, you should visit them so you can meet the people working there, the friendly Baristas of Lima.