It was one of those greyish day when you can’t really tell if it’s 6 in the morning or in the afternoon. I had arrived in Lima early in the morning after a night spent in the bus from Huaraz. My friend Matthew and I were walking in the streets of Miraflores, looking for a hotel room to spend the only night we had there before getting back to the Andes, this time around Cuzco. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, we passed by a very red window where I had a glimpse of a familiar red machine with a silvery inscription on it:
I turned towards Matt and let him know, smiling: “we’re having coffee here”, following the logic that if a coffee shop owner invests in such a good (and expensive) espresso machine, he has to know what he’s doing. Matt didn’t question the glint of hope and enthusiasm in my eyes as we went in. We were straight away welcomed by two young ladies grinning happily from ear to ear.
I looked around and saw a bunch of other familiar toys and knew it was safe to ask questions about the different varietals of coffees and kinds of roasts they may be brewing.
Apparently happy that I asked, Ariana (the main barista that day) started talking about the coffee she was offering, a blend of red and yellow caturra, catimor and Typica from Satipo (in the center of Peru). Presenting us two samples of beans on the counter, she explained about the two different roasts she uses, a light to medium for the pourovers and a slightly darker one for the espresso, to lower the acidity and give more body to it. Delighted to meet such a passionate and knowledgeable barista, I ordered my favorite, a chemex, and Matt the usual cappuccino.
We sat down in the café area and enjoyed the best coffee that I’ve had in South America so far. My chemex was as tasteful as Ariana had announced it would be and Matt (being a spoiled Australian cappuccino drinker) was delighted to have a taste of home.
Arabica serves coffee roasted by Biasetti, a roastery and café in a nearby neighbourhood where Ariana also roasts coffee (http://www.cafebisetti.com). The owner of the 2 places is the grandchild of an Italian coffee roaster. After spending some time in New York City, he decided to start a café in his own country where he couldn’t find the same quality. He sources the coffee directly from Peruvian coffee growers and all the informations are available to the customers.
We went there for a visit later that same day. It is a bigger café where people hang out with friends and/or laptops, it could just be in any capital city for that matter. Not as cosy in my opinion, but the coffee was excellent as well.
A not too bad alternative is “café verde” in Miraflores, good coffee but not as dedicated folk.
Thanks Ariana and Anne for great coffee experiences. Make sure you visit them when in Lima, I mean, if you want a break from instant coffee.