BUENOS AIRES, Feb 23 — Fashionable-looking Porteños trot past us, managing the ineffable act of being brisk and laidback at the same time.
This is Buenos Aires, where even if you’re in a hurry, you’re never in that much of a hurry that you couldn’t stop by a coffee bar for a cuppa.
It helps that we are at All Saints Café in the heart of the Argentinian capital’s Av. Corrientes, a street synonymous with tango and traffic.
Owners Sebastian, Taylor and Ezequiel Freidzon opened the original All Saints Café in the upmarket Belgrano barrio in 2014.
Today the café is an institution in itself, revered by Porteños from all over the city for their organic coffee that is roasted in-house. The décor is eclectic — part woodsy cabin, part rock arena.
Don’t let all that hipster charm worry you; the baristas at All Saints are some of the friendliest in town.
They welcome customers to ask questions and to take pictures of them brewing filter coffee, still something of novelty in a city where many residents of Italian descent only consider espresso real coffee.
Truly, Buenos Aires is a city that is very welcoming of immigrants. Besides the large Porteño populations of Italian and Spanish origins, other communities flourish here too.
Look no further than the vibrant neighbourhood of Palermo Soho where Lattente, one of the earliest specialty coffee bars in Argentina, is located.
The café was founded by Colombian Daniel Cifuentes, who represented Argentina at the 2012 World Barista Championship, and his Indonesian partner Zehan Nurhadzar, whom he met during university in Russia.
The world is a small place, and the coffee world even smaller.
Doubling as both an espresso and brew bar, typically only medium-roast single origin beans are used.
The passion is clear as Lattente started their own coffee roastery in 2017 so expect varietals such as Caturra Pache Typica from Cajamarca, Peru and Catuaí Rojo from Siguatepeque, Honduras.
The space inside is rather tiny but all the better to head outside and perch on one of the rickety stools. Nurse your caffè latte while patting the numerous dogs that other patrons bring with them on their walks.
If you desire more space, head a few blocks down the street to Full City Coffee House.
Opened in 2011, this café focuses on Colombian coffee and indeed, much of its food menu displays its Colombian influence strongly: crusty cornmeal arepas sliced in half and stuffed with pulled beef and pickled radish, enormous salads and plenty of fresh juices.
When you realise the owners — Victoria Angarita and Allan Dorgan — are both Colombians, it all makes sense.
The couple take pride in 100 per cent Colombian coffee that they roast themselves, and a much darker roast than what you’d get at Lattente not far away.
Take refuge in their inner courtyard, which is open, airy and utterly relaxing.
The giant octopus mural, the scarred picnic tables, the profusion of sunlight, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee — this is how Porteños enjoy life!
Across Avenida Juan B. Justo from Palermo Soho is Palermo Hollywood, so named thanks to its preponderance of film industry types. Residents, who always seem to be in the midst of discussing some deal, know the best spot for their espressos and V60 brews: Lab Tostadores de Café.
The brainchild of Alexis Zagdañski and Paula Zyssholtz, “the Lab” (as it’s fondly known) first opened in 2014 and the bar is now headed by veteran Brazilian barista Annete Alve.
Expect beans from the usual suspects — Brazil, Central America and Africa; the latter for acidity and fruity notes long missing from the typical Argentinian coffee lover’s palate.
They roast their beans with a formidable Diedrich IR12, hence the dedication to educating the neighbourhood on a different coffee flavour profile.
The kitchen dishes out what the chef terms New American Cuisine — which entails lots of breakfast bowls, salads, fruits, tomato “carpaccio” and grilled polenta — executed better than they need to.
Don’t blame us if we do as Porteños do: never hurry, not while we can watch the world go by with a coffee by our side.
All Saints Café
Av. Corrientes 802, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Thames 1891, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Full City Coffee House
Thames 1535, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Lab Tostadores de Café
Humboldt 1542, Buenos Aires, Argentina