Latin America is defined as a group of countries in the Americas where Romance (Spanish and Portuguese) languages are spoken. This broad collection of states, dependencies and territories encompass the majority of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
It is a region with a rich history that is as complex and as fascinating as any other part of the world. Importantly for us, it is where to find some of the best coffee-growing countries, plantations and fields on the planet.
When coffee cultures are discussed, the majority of column space is dedicated to the thriving lifestyles sectors of the United States of America, Great Britain, Australia, Scandinavia, and beyond.
Yet – for various reasons – we tend to see Latin American countries as exporters and producers rather than consumers and innovators.
Slowly, though, that is beginning to change.
So, instead of looking to our hip, often tattooed fellow English speakers for inspiration, why not shift your gaze westwards and see what is brewing in Latin America?
Here are five of the best Latin American coffees.
The Café Cubano has influenced Cuban, Floridian and American coffee cultures.
Traditionally made with dark roasted blends (those commonly referred to as ‘Italian roast’), this is a sweeter espresso that is made by adding sugar to the espresso pitcher.
The heat from the brewing process creates a syrupy shot.
A short milk-based variation of the Cubano is the Cortadito. Sitting between the macchiato and cappuccino in terms of quantity, this is a really popular coffee that is gaining a lot of traction stateside.
Ingredients (makes one)
- (Dark roasted) espresso
- Steamed milk
- Combine the espresso with an equal amount of steamed milk and serve
Café a Jengibre (Colombia)
A firm favourite in Colombia, Café a Jengibre mixes coffee with a little bit of sugar (honey) and spice (ginger) to create a unique and ultimately delicious drink.
You can prepare this South American speciality either by hand or by machine. For simplicity, we are going to list the version that utilises the espresso machine – just make sure to give the groups a good clean at the end of the day!
Ingredients (makes one)
- 7g ground coffee (enough to create one espresso)
- 1 tablespoons of honey
- 1 pinch of ground ginger
- Steamed milk
- Mix the ground coffee and ginger
- Brew an espresso
- Pour the honey into a cup, and then add the ginger-infused espresso
- Stir and then add the steamed milk to create a short drink, the size of a cappuccino
Café de Olla (Mexico)
Given the frequency of which Mexico’s sweet and spicy Café de Olla has frequented the blog over the years, you would be right to assuming it is one of our favourite speciality coffees.
Translated into English as a ‘little pot of coffee’, this delightful drink is easy to create.
And with all good recipes, there’s plenty of room for individuality!
Ingredients (makes six)
- 6 scoops (or 42g) of freshly ground coffee
- 6 teaspoons of dark brown sugar
- 2 litres of boiling water
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 2 Cloves
- Orange peel
- Add the cloves, cinnamon, orange peel, sugar and boiling water to a saucepan
- Allow the mixture to simmer on a low heat for five minutes.
- By now, the sugar should have dissolved. Add the coffee, stir and leave to simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Remove from heat and let the mixture steep.
- Strain, pour and serve.
Café Pascado con Pisco (Peru)
Created by Spanish settlers in the 16th century to combat the prohibitive costs of importing traditional spirits, Pisco is Peru’s speciality.
This terrific tipple is a lightly coloured grape brandy that has wowed drinkers since the first caskets were opened in the 1500s.
The prestigious Concours Mondial de Bruxelles event even named it the world’s best drink back in 2011!
Luckily, it is relatively easy to acquire a bottle of Pisco in the UK – so check with your local stockists and wow your customers with this perfect after-dinner (short) cocktail.
Ingredients (makes 1)
- 1 espresso (preferably a fruity single-origin)
- 1 shot of pisco
- Pour the espresso over the pisco
The espresso tonic was the drink of last summer, so why not turn the Café Pascado con Pisco into a longer cocktail that can be served over ice?