As I’ve mentioned on a few different occasions, we’ve suffered from a serious lack of good coffee on this trip. The coffee in Peru was pretty terrible across the board, and, minus a few exceptions, Colombia’s wasn’t much better. One reason I was excited to get to Argentina’s biggest city was that I knew there would be a chance that our coffee fortunes would turn around, at least temporarily. Buenos Aires is a modern metropolis filled with hip neighborhoods, and trendy areas usually bring with them people who like a good cup of joe. I’m not sure why, but that just seems to go hand in hand. We tried three of the top rated cafes in Buenos Aires, and here’s what I thought.
Full City Coffee House
This little Palermo Soho spot was the best of the three for sitting and lingering for a while. The wifi was fast, and the chairs and tables were abundant enough that you wouldn’t feel bad plopping your laptop down for a couple of hours. As far as the coffee was concerned, it was probably my least favourite of the three. My cappuccino was a little milkier than I would have liked, and I had a hard time really tasting the flavour of the coffee. It certainly wasn’t bad by any means, but I wouldn’t rush back there for their coffee specifically, especially when there’s such an amazing option so close by (more on that later on). Apparently they serve some great breakfast but unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to sample it as we were relishing the opportunity to cook our own breakfast in our apartment.
We were heading to the San Telmo antique fair on a Sunday and noticed that this highly recommended coffee spot in the San Telmo Market would only be a block or two out of our way. We’d read that it was run by a recent barista champion, so we figured we’d be silly not to take the opportunity to check it out.
Being a market stall, Coffee Town’s more of a place to grab a quick cup and get on your way than somewhere to linger for hours over a good book. They serve little snacks and sandwiches, but we were saving ourselves for some steak eating later so we didn’t get a chance to try the food. Our coffees were beautifully presented and looked very inviting, but once again I was a bit disappointed in the depth of flavour, or lack thereof. My cappuccino was very good, it just wasn’t quite at the level I’d consider great. Similar to Full City, I’d say that it’s an excellent option for those looking for a good coffee in Buenos Aires, but it won’t stand out in my memory.
I just had to save the best for last. Run by a Colombian who’s won a barista title himself, Lattente was our go to coffee shop while we were in Buenos Aires. Located in Palermo Soho, it was a ten minute or so walk from our apartment, a walk we came know well as we did it almost every day we were in the city.
In full disclosure, I should mention that we went to this cafe nine times while we went to the other two only once each, but the fact that it’s just so damn good kept bringing us back. Since we went there so many times, I feel like I can confidently say that the coffee at Lattente ranks up there with the best I’ve ever had. We didn’t try everything on the menu, but the cappuccinos were incredible both hot and cold, and Zevi had nothing but praise for his lattes. From the first sip of my first cappuccino, I was in love. Ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but a good cup of coffee really does it for me! I often find that cold brew or iced coffee doesn’t retain the flavour of its hot counterpart and I normally don’t enjoy it nearly as much, but somehow the cappuccinos served on ice at Lattente stayed true to the taste I’d expect if it had been heated. They really hit the spot on the hot days in Buenos Aires when we couldn’t fathom walking home with a hot drink in hand. When we didn’t take our coffee to go we laid claim to the one outside table with its two benches, one rickety and missing the top section. The table was placed perfectly in the shade of a couple of large trees, and it was the perfect spot to sit and savour our drinks. They don’t have wifi, so it’s not somewhere to spend any productive time, but that just means there’s no distractions from how amazing your coffee tastes.
A couple of days in, we discovered Lattente’s alfajores, traditional Argentinean sandwich cookies with dulce de leche in the middle, and we were hooked on those as well. I don’t generally go crazy over sugary treats, but the cookies were so tender and contrasted so perfectly with the sweet filling that had just a slight hint of spice that I couldn’t help but swoon. They get them from an outside supplier so they don’t always have them on hand, but if they do, you’d be a fool not to get one (or more… I won’t judge).
Just in case our love for Lattente wasn’t yet obvious, when we had a few hours after coming back to Buenos Aires to catch our flight to Santiago, we took the metro all the way up to Palermo and walked the six or seven blocks to the cafe for one last cappuccino. I wouldn’t go that far out of my way for just any coffee, but Lattente is well worth the trip, and after taking one sip of my drink I had absolutely no regrets.
Buenos Aires provided a nice little oasis in a desert of pretty terrible coffee, and I was grateful to have the chance to sample all three of these places. They were all good, but if you’re only going to try one, my vote (clearly) goes to Lattente. Even if you’re not staying in Palermo, make the trek up there and try it if you’re a fan of a good cup of java. Believe me, you won’t regret it.