Café de Olla, also known as Mexican spiced coffee, is a traditional way to prepare coffee in Mexico. It has the perfect combination of cinnamon and piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar) that will make any cold morning (and warm afternoons) so much sweeter. If you love trying traditional beverages from across the world and need an excuse to use your earthen clay pots, you’ll love making this coffee drink.
This sweet and flavorful traditional Mexican coffee is quickly growing in popularity in the United States – taste for yourself to see why!
What is café de olla?
Café de olla is a Mexican coffee beverage that can be found in Mexican cafés anywhere in the country – especially around the vicinity of Mexico City, but you should have no problem getting a hold of this filling drink anywhere in the country. The words “café de olla” are literally translated as “pot coffee” or “coffee from a pot”. This coffee calls for sticks of cinnamon and piloncillo, however, if you can’t find piloncillo, you can check out our Tips section for a good substitute.
The drink’s origin dates back to the early 1900s, during the Mexican Revolution – and its popularity keeps increasing year after year. During the war, Mexican women participated in different ways, such as setting up camps, carrying soldiers’ bags, and even taking care of the food. In order to help their people, Mexican women who participated in the war (commonly known as Adelitas) created a blend of spices, coffee, and sugar in large clay pots to give soldiers an energy boost – and that’s how café de olla was born. Adelitas played a big role in Mexican history, and this coffee is just a small proof of their legacy.
As for the taste… It’s hard to explain the cafe de olla taste, but we can definitely assure you it’s got an original flavor – especially when drunk from a clay mug, which will give it that unique earthy flavor the coffee is known for.
Other than that, the best way to describe Mexican spiced coffee is very sweet with a hint of spice. Depending on the roast of your coffee beans, it may have a stronger flavor, although the addition of cinnamon and piloncillo will help neutralize the strength.
If you prefer to, you can absolutely add milk – however, we recommend you not to in order to keep the distinct spiced flavor.
- 8 ounces of water
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons piloncillo
- 1 tablespoon fresh ground (medium course) coffee
Small pot or saucepan.
Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
- In the small pot or saucepan, boil the water over high heat.
- Add the piloncillo and cinnamon stick.
- Stir until the piloncillo dissolves.
- Add the coffee grounds and continue stirring.
- Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 5-10 minutes.
- Strain the coffee into a mug using the fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
How To Serve
Traditionally served in terra cotta mugs – jarritos – made from the same clay as the pot used for brewing the coffee.
Enjoy café de olla with a concha (Mexican sweet bread) to truly embrace Mexican traditions.
- Let stand longer for a stronger brew, shorter for a weaker brew.
- For an authentic traditional flavor, use a dark Mexican roast.
- Hard to find piloncillo near you? Substitute dark brown sugar instead.
- Don’t have a strainer or cheesecloth? Go ahead and use a standard paper coffee filter.
- Add star anise, whole cloves, and orange peel to the pot for a more exotic but delicious brew.
- Prefer a creamier coffee? Try cafe con leche instead.
- Add one shot of Kahlúa for an even sweeter cup of joe.
- You can drink café de olla at any time of the day, morning or evening, alone or with friends – café de olla is a very versatile drink.
- Fresh coffee is always better, but you can refrigerate your leftovers for the next morning.
- This coffee gets its name from the clay pot or olla used for brewing.
- The pot itself is said to impart a unique earthy taste to this popular Mexican beverage.
- National Coffee Day is September 29th, and International Coffee Day is October 1st.