A break from instant coffee in Lima, Peru.

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.

The cosy café area (with books and board games) and the bar on the background

The menu, on the cover is the outside façade of the café.

Part of the coffee menu, either espresso-based drinks or alternative methods

Detail on the wall

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.

Biasetti café and roastery, Barranco, Lima.

La Marzocco and other brewing methods

La Marzocco and other brewing methods

Poster on a wall. Learning process.

Our coffee comes from families growing coffee from every areas of the country, in an organic way and respecting the ecosystem.
Once harvested and processed, this coffee is roasted by roast masters at Biasetti, District of Barranco, Lima.

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.


Viva Café

Viva café is a brand new café in barrio La California in San José and it will blow your mind in many ways.

“We’re brewing your cup of good energy”

Viva la vida!

It is a tiny cosy café, very nicely designed, where you will want to hang out for hours. The sweet Leda runs the place and makes you feel welcome straight away, together with talented barista Adrian.

Leda’s family has been working with coffee for a long time. If she has decided to open her own coffee shop today, it is to keep on with the family tradition, but also to have a direct contact with the customers. The idea is to offer the people of San José a different feel for coffee in a different café.  And it works.

Adrian wanted to be a barista in Viva café to share with people his excitement for new brewing methods (here brewing a chemex) and serve customers the best coffees available in the country.

Choosing the coffee to offer to customers is not an easy task and is a team work. First, Leda tastes many different coffees to select the few ones she loves. Then, she works tightly with her father, who also is the roaster, to find the appropriate roast profiles for each coffee. Once she has made up her mind, she is free to go directly to the farms with her dad and her barista Adrian to visit the cafetales (coffee plantations) and the micro beneficios (micromills). A journey from the seed to the cup, the dream of any roaster/barista.

“People are used to drinking washed coffee. We want to offer them the chance to taste a honey-processed or a natural coffee so they can discover something new”

In her café, Leda wants to emphasise on educating customers about the different ways of processing coffee and give them the chance to taste different types of washed, honey-processed and natural coffees. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go ask her!

A delicious honey-processed coffee from Finca La Plaza, Tarazzu, 1900m, processed at the Santa Rosa 1900 micromill.

Your hungry stomach will be happy to have lunch or dessert, but what I very warmly recommend is the coffee. I have not been to any other café where the coffee tastes so great, and that is why this is already a popular café. Leda chooses the coffee she wants to serve in her café, it is then roasted with skills by her dad. You can enjoy it as any espresso-based drinks or brewed with a French Press or a chemex. What more would you want?

Lovely espresso

Best cappuccinos I have had in Costa Rica so far

Adresse: Barrio la California, 24-2300, San José, Costa Rica.


Internet: yes

When: Monday-Friday, 10am-7pm (opening soon on saturdays as well)

Viva Café’s menu