Coffee in Buenos Aires: Is it Good or Bad?

Gringo in Buenos AiresDrink48 Comments

In case you weren’t aware, coffee is quite popular nowadays! The internet tells me that over 400 billion cups are consumed every year worldwide – rather a lot by anyone’s reckoning.

Buenos Aires certainly contributes its fair share to that total. Indeed, at first glance, Buenos Aires seems to be the proud owner of a deep and abiding coffee culture: meeting for a coffee is indisputably a pillar of Argentine social life. This is aided and abetted by the fact that the lines between café, bar and restaurant are blessedly blurred in Argentina, meaning that you can get a cup of joe just about anywhere that has waiters.

Personally, I love the experience of going for a coffee in Buenos Aires, particularly if it’s at a Café Notable like El Federal in San Telmo. I love the vaulted ceilings; the fileteado artwork; the waiters in bowties; the gloriously beat-up furniture, and the checkerboard floors. It all makes for a perfect café environment. Order a single café con leche and suddenly (well, not that suddenly) your table is overflowing with stuff: the coffee; sugar cubes; a linen napkin; a shot of sparkling mineral water, and a little plate of alfajores to boot. Now that’s value! Plus you can linger over that one cup as long as you like and no-one will ever pester you to order more.

Ahhh J. It’s a very nice experience, one that I never tire of and always share with friends when they’re here on vacation.

So: thumbs up for the Buenos Aires coffee culture.

All of this leaves us with a puzzling question though. Given that Buenos Aires has such a great coffee culture, why is the coffee itself so bad? Because it really is terrible. Bitter, watery and awful, it’s actually worse than a decent cup of Nescafé.

In other countries, Starbucks unfortunately is my fall-back, my go-to-guy for when I can’t find a decent independent café, or for when I want to be absolutely sure of being able to get Wi-Fi along with my caffeine. In Buenos Aires however, Starbucks provides some of the best coffee on offer (which isn’t saying much).

*Editor’s Note in response to some comments: Nowhere does this article say Starbucks is “good” coffee, just that it is a fallback when no other place with decent coffee can be found.

The reason can’t be the equipment, because most cafés sport beautiful, top-notch espresso machines, and anyway, it’s not just the coffee that’s served in cafés: the ground stuff that you buy in supermarkets is horrible as well.

The biggest contributor to the awfulness of the coffee here is that, unlike anywhere else in the world, in Argentina coffee beans are roasted with sugar. Look at a pack of Argentine coffee in a store and you’ll see the word ‘torrado’ written somewhere on the label. This means ‘sugar roasted,’ a process which interferes with (and I think, ruins) the natural flavors of the bean.

Why are the beans roasted in this way? Apparently there are two reasons: 1) to disguise the bad quality of the beans, which in Argentina are low-grade beans from Brazil; and to cut the expensive coffee with something cheaper (the sugar can represent as much as 15-20% of the weight of the batch).

Clearly this is not a good situation for coffee lovers.

Is there light at the bottom of the coffee cup?

There are some signs on the horizon that things are changing in Buenos Aires with regard to coffee. The city is now home to some specialty coffee shops that really focus on blending and taste. The café chain Establecimiento General de Café (www.estcafe.com.ar), for example, has a great reputation.

Personally, I love Matilda’s, the tiny hole-in-the-wall café in San Telmo at Chile 673 (near Chacabuco) that serves great coffee AND delicious cupcakes.

If you don’t live near enough to somewhere like Matilda’s, you might have to resort to bringing in a 5kg bag of your favorite blend from overseas, buying a French press, and drinking your coffee at home. And if you’re at a Café Notable, order a nice glass of Malbec instead – now there’s something that Argentina does well!

48 Comments on “Coffee in Buenos Aires: Is it Good or Bad?”

  1. Marcelo Ruiz

    Not all the cafés offer bad coffee. It could be true for some old fashioned shops but there are plenty of places where they do have good beans (Café Martínez, La Bolsa de Café, Coffee Store, etc.)

    And it is also true that you can also find not torrado beans.

  2. Martin

    The first and main reason why Buenos Aires’ coffee is horrible is the quality of the water used to make it. Torrado is not as usual as you think; it is indeed usual in supermarkets, but most coffee shops do not use torrado, they use regular toasted cofee.

    Water quality also plays an important role in pastries, for example. That’s why some pastries (those found in Mar del Plata, some places of Mendoza and Cordoba) are truly superior to those found in BA.

  3. Andi

    I agree with everything you said! I’m visiting in October and I plan to bring my own beans haha. I didn’t know there were Starbucks in the city now!!!

  4. Keith

    Interesting overview of Argentine coffee – I had no idea. I’ll be there in November so I really appreciate the recommendations!

  5. Cherie

    I totally agree with you! I’m a big coffee lover and the 7 years I’ve lived here have been frustrating for me coffee-wise until I had a friend bring me an electric coffee grinder. I found Super Cabrales Cafe en Granos in the supermarket–no sugar. I use an electric drip machine, AND I put in a little salt–DEE Lish!

  6. Aleina

    Ilike the coffee you get in bars most of the time. I never had problems finding quite a few varieties of non sugar toasted coffee in the supermarkets.I wish I could remember the name of the chain of little shops that sells coffee beans or ready ground coffee. Anybody know the name ? They sell chocolates,too.

  7. Quinn

    Right on regarding coffee in BA. It’s not awful like in Chile, where Nescafe is the only thing available in many places. But it’s not great in BA. I’ve found the best way to ensure good coffee is for my to spend a few bucks and make it at home only.

    I do often go to Cafe Montenegro in Palermo Hollywood (corner of Soler and Arevalo). They serve Lavazza coffee, which is my preference in many countries let alone Argentina.

  8. lara dunston

    Good post, but agree with Marcelo and Quinn re Cafe Montenegro – Lavazza rules.

    It’s definitely a city where you need to know where to go – and the best places to go are those ran by Argentines of Italian heritage where you can enjoy a coffee as good as any espresso you’ll find in Italy.

    Now, you see Starbucks, well, I think that’s just truly truly dreadful coffee, along with Gloria Jeans and the other US brands, but then I think it’s just as hard to find a great coffee in New York and Melbourne, both cities that are known for their cafe culture, as it is in Buenos Aires, because too many are focused on the trendy froccamuccachino crap. In Italy, you get simple, pure, strong great coffee everywhere.

  9. Janis Workman

    For many expats living in Buenos Aires, the day comes when they realize something is missing. What could that thing be? Pepperoni Pizza of course. In a city that seems to have its fair selection of different Italian meats, Pepperoni seems nowhere to be found. There may be good reason for this, as Pepperoni is […]Related posts:Fileteado: Buenos Aires Style ArtworkEat like a Porteño: A Great Buenos Aires Restaurant GuideBuenos Aires Architecture: A Quick Guide

  10. Will

    I totally disagree with this note.. Starbucks sucks.. coffee in buenos aires is even better than at home ! I just don’t like the common instant coffee that you get everywhere in S.A.

  11. Will

    Cafes are an intrinsic part of every day life in Buenos Aires. Portenos -as
    the people who live in this portside city is known as- feel cafes are almost
    like an extension of their home, study or work environment. Probably some of
    the best poems, songs, paintings, business plans, romances and break-ups have
    had a Buenos Aires Cafe as their main stage.

    Modern or Classic, hip or traditional, shaggy or well staged, the option is as broad as one can imagine.

    This is a two century old tradition that started with the flows of European Immigrants. Those origin old continent marks can be traced in our cafes. For example, the great pleasure taken in small strong cups of espresso coffee is without a doubt Italian origin. While the Spanish input can be found in the variety of snack like appetizers known in the Peninsula as Tapas and in Buenos Aires as picada (literally meaning chopped, for it consists in small plates of cold cuts, cheese, veggies, etc) or tablita (because it was sually served in a wooden cutting board). As to the other influence, I
    think France is the place; for no other country in the planet worships cafes as a philosophical round table scenario as French and Argentines do.

    The combination of those influences together with the very sense of Argentines and portenos created a particular cafe culture that’s typical of our capital city.

    Visitors from around the globe when visiting Buenos Aires usually delight themselves with great food, but the last place they think that might raise some eyebrows is a cafe, but it happens. After the perfect grilled Argentine steak, the most delicious pasta dish and superb ice cream, the culinary surprises brought by the argentine palate might seem covered. But you haven’t tried Buenos Aires flavour until you enjoy an espresso and a tostado. The consistency and rich flavor beheld in the small cup complements perfectly crispy thin bread layers mixed with just a perfect slice of ham and cheese. Within its simplicity this true Argentine combo is a treat to the senses.

    Each quarter in the city has its own trademark cafe, some even more than one. Each features a unique and personal style, the conjunction of ambiance and public, those steady customers that regularly come, sit on the same table and have become part of the cafe’s spirit. And such is the love and care Argentines have for those coffee houses that the government has come with a cultural patrimony project that preserves those historical and cultural icon places under the concept of Notable Cafes. There are 53 in the city of Buenos Aires, but the list broadens constantly. Cafe Tortoni, La
    Giralda, 36 Billiards, La Biela, La Ideal and Bar El Britanico, are just some.

    Just a peek into the caf¿ world of Buenos Aires takes us to Cafe Tortoni on Mayo Av. Founded in 1858, is the oldest and most famous cafe in Argentina. Known for being a place that was immortalized by Argentine and world wide artists, writers, poets, musicians, this is not only a great caf¿, but also a living like museum. Alfonsina Storni, a poet, Benito Quinquela Martin, a painter, Baldomero Fernandez Moreno, a poet Carlos Gardel, the tango legend; Federico Garcia Lorca, the Spanish poet and playwright; Luigi Pirandello, the Italian dramatist, and Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine poet, critic and short-story writer, were some of the bright minds who frequented this gorgeous French style coffe house. Its green marble tables and red leather arm chairs welcome locals and foreigners, famous and anonymous equally for a wonderful experience.

    La Giralda, on the worldly famous bookstore avenue of Corrientes is an intellectual hangout, and it has been for decades now. Simple, nice and exuding a lost sophistication that has mutated into a bohemian feel, its marble tables and wooden chairs have witnessed some of the brightest and most stupid intellectual discussions ever taken place in the city. Serving what to me are the best churros(fritters) and hot chocolate in town, the best picture perfect scenario is a cold winter afternoon at La Giralda enjoying fritters and hot coco after a walk along Corrientes for old great masters books.

    36 Billiards is a true Billiard house on Mayo Av. This traditional Asturian house were picadas and tablitas, drinks and coffee are the greatest option, is also the best place for billiard lovers or curious interested ones.

    On the Upper North side of the city, in Recoleta, La Biela is the aristocratic cafe par excellence, in front of France Park, this has been the house and office extension for the sophisticated and luxury like upper Argentine class.

    La Ideal in downtown BA is not only a traditional cafe but it’s the best place for traditional tango experiences. Just ask Madonna, she danced there for her musical film Evita and fell deeply in love with the place, the feel and the atmosphere.

    Bar El Britanico, overlooking the beautiful Lezama park, is less fancy. Home
    to the anonym porte¿os who take pleasure in their daily coffee routine, meeting friends, playing board games and enjoying the broad windows view of the passers by, el Britanico is a San Telmo trademark. Most waiters have been there ever since they wore their first pair of long trousers, know the clientele, but don’t believe in the modern world sense of waiter service. They are not nice, but you like them -don’t ask me why, that’s just what happens.-

    In these days unfortunately, the owner of this cafe has set his mind into transforming the beloved coffee house into a hipper and modern like Internet caf¿. When people got this horrible news, the whole San Telmo quarter and the rest of the city alike began to work on a plan to prevent this cultural murder to happen. How many Internet houses does this city need? Do we really have to witness such a cultural atrocity? The answer was a rotund no, so the friends of El Britanico began a campaign. The last word has not been said yet, for they were able to gather over 6,000 signatures in a petition that is going to be addressed to the city Major to work out some kind of deal.

    Buenos Aires is so intensely rich in culture and tradition that has raised a strong popular awareness of conservation and love for what makes us be distinctly us. The tradition of cafes is not just about a cup of coffee that can be taken to go or bought elsewhere, it’s about the history and stories you go building and creating in that special place of yours. Caf¿s are deep cultural bonds traced between cups of coffee, great conversations, tough personal moments and joyful times that are unique and precious, part of our meaningful moments in life.

  12. Raffaella

    PPPlease!!! Since when Starbucks makes good coffee??? It’s only another overpriced overrated chain that sells over roasted coffee to hide the low quality of the beans. Anyone who knows anything about coffee won’t like it!! It’s like saying you can have gourmet food in Applebee’s. If you want good coffee come to Italy, or, as a second choice Argentina has some very good coffee, any place offering Lavazza or Segafredo Zanetti, also cafe Martinez. And Janice pepperoni is NOT any kind of poultry, pepperoni means bell pepper, what (only in the US) you call pepperoni (for some obscure reason) is really called salami or salami piccante. Thus, you won’t find “pepperoni pizza” outside of the US and yes, Italian pizza is very different that the “American version” as is coffee, and gladly so.

  13. Cherie

    Yeah, yeah, cafe culture, blah blah blah.
    But if you want a good cup of COFFEE, it is not to be found in Argentina. Sorry. My opinion as a coffee gourmet.

    BTW, the coffee-chocolate shop you are looking for Aleina is Bonefide, and I’ve bought their extremely expensive non-sugared beans in their darkest roast, but still–to me, no dice.

    It’s one of the frustrations of being a foodie here, just one.

    Great and thoughtful friends bring me packs of good coffee when they come to visit, otherwise I get by at home with grinding my Gran Hispano beans from Coto and my electric coffee maker. I NEVER order coffee in a cafe–only wine!!

  14. josé

    Che, el café de Buenos Aires es riquísimo: El problema es que la máquina de expreso la tiene que manejar alguien que sepa hacerlo. El agua muy caliente quema el café y el sabor ya es otro. Lo digo porqué trabajé preparando café en un bar.
    PD: no sé escribir en inglés, apenas lo leo un poco, así que disculpen. Saludos.

  15. Gabriel

    The best coffee you can get is The café chain Establecimiento General de Café (www.estcafe.com.ar)
    I am an argentinean and I can tell you that for good

  16. Josh

    Those who claim that coffee in Buenos Aires (or Argentina), is terrible, must have lost their sense of taste. It is laughable when Americans claim that they are true COFFEE gourmets for when they do, the rest of the world LAUGHS OUT LOUD, since their coffee tradition actually stems from “GOURMET” chains like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, and the like . . . the list goes on. It infuriates me when they bring their paper cup coffee drinking pre-conceptions to a nation like Argentina which is well bred in the coffee culture traditions of Europe. Faced with this reality, paper cup drinking Americans do not know where they stand, so they berate and tackily admit THEY MISS THEIR “delicious” STARBUCKS VARIETY. What a joke mate! Please Americans, your coffee is simply horrible, like the rest of the carboard-tasting, low quality, heart-attack waiting to happen, obesity bound junk food you have so shamelessly exported to the rest of the world. Argentina’s coffee culture is real and alive thanks to the influx of Italians, French and Spaniards who contributed to make up most of what is today’s Argentine population. Add the German influence for beer, and the English influence for a great cup of tea, and you see what I mean. If you do not like Argentine coffee, go back to your native posts and enjoy your paint-tasting Starbucks in its “traditional” paper cup. But do not come to a nation with a much longer and true tradition for excellence in coffee drinking and berate it. BTW THE U.S.A IS NOT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE.

    P.S: I am Australian and have travelled the world, thus I know what I am talking about.

  17. Tim Gringo in BA

    Hey Josh, just so you know, this post was written by an Australian, like yourself, not an American. So it seems like you have some built up aggression towards Americans rather than any opinion about coffee.

    But as an American and the editor of this blog I feel like I need to respond to your distasteful, hate-filled comment.

    1. I am not sure if you have been to the states, but we have a very large variety of coffee options besides Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds. Depending on what city you are in, we have an abundance of locally-brewed independent coffee shops making some great coffee. There is some incredible coffee in the states and there is horrible coffee. We can enjoy the cafe culture if we want to (have you been to San Francisco?) or if we are in a rush we can grab our “carboard-tasting, paper cup” starbucks coffee to go.

    2. “Please Americans, your coffee is simply horrible, like the rest of the carboard-tasting, low quality, heart-attack waiting to happen, obesity bound junk food you have so shamelessly exported to the rest of the world.” Don’t blame us, if there is a demand for it, it will come. It can’t exist without people wanting it. Every Argentinian I know loves McDonalds, it is here because they want it. Other fast-food places like Wendy’s tried and failed here.

    3. “But do not come to a nation with a much longer and true tradition for excellence in coffee drinking and berate it.” I am not sure if you read the article, but the author praised the coffee drinking culture of Buenos Aires. His problem is with the taste.

    4. Many people have the opinion shared by the author about Coffee in Buenos Aires, Argentinians as well. Not sure how you generalized that this is only an opinion shared by Americans.

    5. “BTW THE U.S.A IS NOT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE.” I am still having trouble finding how this comment is relevant to this article or any of the comments posted on here. The author doesn’t say anything about the USA besides mentioning Starbucks.

    In essence, you are lame man. You just sound like another cliche “americans are fat mcdonalds eating uncultured egomaniacs!!” and are basically generalizing a nation of over 300 million people with many different cultures, cities, etc.

    “P.S: I am Australian and have traveled the world, thus I know what I am talking about.” Gee, you are such a world traveler, I would assume you would be more open-minded and not make such grand generalizations. I have no problem with people hating the Foreign Policy of the USA and its imperial-minded government, I do as well, but don’t start making generalizations about the people and culture, because as I can see from your post, you simply have no idea what you are talking about.

  18. Italian-Texan in BA

    Josh, you are embarrassment. Thank you Tim for clearing things up.

    I want to affirm the author and emphasize:

    1. The coffee culture in BA is fantastic (I love it).
    2. The coffee itself, GENERALLY SPEAKING, is terrible.

    If you’ve walked passed any of the Starbucks in BA, you will notice that they are almost always packed.

    Why would this be? Starbucks is more expensive, and doesn’t give you the nice cookies or soda water (which is sooo perfect after a cup of coffee to clean your pallet).

    The answer is because the coffee in Starbucks is decent as opposed to terrible.

    When they make a cup of coffee at your average bar in BA, it is usually what would be called in Italy, café lungo (an espresso that runs longer than a traditional shot). In BA- they let it run MUCH longer than a traditional cafe lungo… this is where the drink gets the watery, acidic taste.

    They use nice machines, and some places use good coffee. But I think the chlorinated water and over extraction lead to a bad tasting cup of coffee.

  19. alicejs

    Hmm, I can’t say I’d normally trust the coffee-tastebuds of those who go to Starbucks voluntarily, but I’d agree coffee in Buenos Aires is disappointing.
    If you want good coffee, go to Rosario. I just spent four days there – and a lot of time in many cafés. In most of them, the coffee was excellent – by far the best I’ve had in two months of travelling in Argentina. (In fact, almost as good as in the great little Aussie and Kiwi coffee bars in London…) Only 4 hours away and it is a lovely city wander around and…well, sit in coffee bars in, too!

  20. Ana O'Reilly

    if I may add my two cents here, I think most Argentineans that patronize Starbucks do so because they’re a little snobbish, not because they really appreciate the quality or flavour. I know a thing or two about my compatriots, so I feel pretty confident making this statement 🙂

    I agree with some of the comments about coffee in BA, it can be terrible or good, depending on where you go, who’s in charge of the espresso machine, the quality of the beans and so on.

    But I’d also like to point out that we’re are talking about cultural differences here. I’ve heard Americans say they dislike, say, pizza in Argentina, which shocked me because I think pizza in the US (or at least here in Dallas) in generally inedible (why, oh why do they have to add chicken to it?)and our pizza is much better.

    But then I thought about it and realized that although we’ve all travelled a lot and lived in many places, we still crave the familiar smells and flavours from our childhood, what we’re used to, which left an indelible impression. So when we are in a new place, we unconsciously expect those same smells and flavours. Does it make any sense? I apologize if it doesn’t. This article made me somewhat homesick 🙂

  21. Sofia

    i didnt really go out to drink coffee in Bs As before.. i just didnt find shops that sell a good cup of coffee. Until i went to this coffee shop called Lattente which is located in recoleta, if im not mistaken, its in calle arenales, dont remember the number of the building, but its between calle Junin and Ayacucho.. And that was the first time i saw Baristas in a coffee shop in Buenos Aires 🙂 They are really professional, ussualy they ask you “como te gusta el café?”.

  22. Jon

    I must say, I was shocked to read this post. The coffee in Buenos Aires is terrible??!! I lived in Argentina for 12 years (I currently live in the US), and I must say that the espresso in Buenos Aires is just as good as any I’ve had in other world class cities like Paris or Madrid. Granted, I’m talking about espresso here (the brewing method preferred by most Argentines) as opposed to the drip coffee preferred by most Americans. I think Anna O’Reilly is correct in stating that it all goes back to cultural preferences. My Argentine friends describe American drip coffee as mud water (I would disagree), while my American friends poke fun at me for paying over $2 for a single shot of espresso (which has superior flavor in my opinion). Getting an espresso in Buenos Aires is one of the things I enjoy the most whenever I visit, and I must say, that I have rarely been dissapointed. Like in most places you visit, it pays to do as the locals do. If you go to Buenos Aires expecting good drip coffee, you’re better off staying home and going to the corner Starbucks.

  23. Daniel Cifuentes

    Hola guys!
    I´m the owner of Cafe LATTEnte (thks Sofia for the comment) and i invite you to come and try our coffee, im sure you will like it! Its in Arenales 2019.
    Cuidense! bye

  24. Luciana

    I’m Argentinean. I live in New York now, and I miss so badly my argentinean cafes!!!
    You don’t need to go to a coffee store in Buenos Aires, you can ask for it in every place. For argentineans is usual to ask for a cortado after meals, so in every restaurant just ask for coffee.
    This guy is totally wrong! Argentinean coffee is amazing. Please don’t go to Starbucks! It’s seam to me that he went to bad places, and had a poor experience about cafes. The havanna store is a good place to taste alfajores and a recommendation there to add to your coffee: “galletitas de limon con chocolate”; it’s a classic.

    New York coffee sucks! (I think I’ll have agreement in that with a lot of you!)

    A few tips, ask for a “cortado” (is a short coffee with a spoon of hot milk) or a “cortado en jarrito” (a little bit longer) a “cafe” is like an expresso but with more water and in some places taste as burned coffee.

    Also, if you want to try the “cafe con leche” it has to be with “medialunas” in every place has a common combo: “cafe con leche con 3 mediaslunas”.

    If you go to a traditional bakery (panaderia), the traditional cake is pasta frola.

    I hope you like it!
    Have fun in Argentina!
    Luciana

  25. Veronica

    I have just dropped my standards I think!

    I was in Spain for three months too and it’s exactly the same. So great with basics like veggies, so slack on the coffee! And tea! The tea sucks!

    Remember it’s not just the gorgeous coffee machines (such a tease!) but that the machines need to be well-treated and well-maintained. If not I’m pretty sure you’re tasting 100 years of burnt coffees in every cup.

    Also, the magic ingredient has always been love. And there’s just no love for the coffee in Spanish culture. After you’ve had a massive meal, two wines, liquor cafe, dessert, (wrong order?) nobody has the energy to argue the bad coffee.

    For your best chance look for French cafes with Frenchmen or Italians behind the bar. They feel the love! 🙂

  26. PaulaM

    “”Why the coffee itself so bad? Because it really is terrible. Bitter, watery and awful, it’s actually worse than a decent cup of Nescafé”… Why don’t you come back to USA to drink old brewed coffe in Stabucks you Yank? Whatever it is you are talking about I doubt you have ever had an “old” coffee in BS As,It’s made right after you order it . that’s why it takes “long” but you wouldnt know about that with your McDonald culture , would you? In your country that is ALREADY brewed in those ridiculous and huge coffee makers or whatever…
    Why don’t you try buying some in Bonafide?…Just suggestion

  27. Pingback: 14 days, 14 cafes! :: .liveit.loveit.blogit.

  28. Ryan

    Wow, Paula is angry. I found the post very interesting and had never heard that coffee was sugar-roasted in Argentina. I always had good stuff at the “cafes notables” that I would frequent while living in BsAs. Gave a little run-down this week on some of B.A.’s best cafes and would imagine/hope that none of them are serving sugar-roasted coffee: http://roundwego.com/featured/notable-cafes-buenos-aires/

    Cheers,
    Ryan

  29. Caroline

    OMG anyone who says Starbucks makes good coffee has lost me completely. Worst coffee ANYWHERE. Even coffee in the typical BA joints is better then Starbucks. but yep, coffee in BA is bad. Tea is great.vwhich makes sense in a mate culture.

  30. Billjermaine

    I am going to BA next month and am very scared at the prospect of bad coffee. Can somebody please recommend something along the lines of a proper actual-trained-barista-grade flat white that you can get in melbourne? Lattente sounds promising.

    Agree with above posts- major credibility issue here if the reviewer is into Starbucks.

  31. Francesca

    Bad coffee in BA? Was just there, my first time back in 38 years (I lived there a year). It was delicious then, and is as wonderful now. Much like good French/Italizn coffee. Certainly as good as. Even in the airport!

    I think the US is new to ‘good’ coffee (I put that in quotes because I don’t think we have good coffee in the States). Personal opinion of course, since this is based on what I was exposed to early– which is what generates our taste biases.

    As for Starbucks… I’m shocked to hear people would prefer it to Argentine coffee… (btw I noticed there aren’t many Starbucks, unless in the tourist areas of BA– so I would imagine Argentinians prefer their coffee to the USA variety.)

    Met some Berkeley grad students in Italy once- their first time out of the US. They exclaimed the coffee in Italy was awful. Why? Because it didn’t taste like Peets! They were getting their PhDs in sociology…which stuck me as humorous.

    Just my own taste buds’ point of view.

  32. Meredith

    Try Buena Vida cafe on Bulnes in Chico. They use Lavazza coffee (italian) very good!

  33. Emma

    Wow people get crazy over coffee, personally I think that it is all a matter of personal tastes. My boyfriend is from Buenos Aires and I’m from New Zealand, we both prefer coffee in Australia/ New Zealand because we love the milky smooth coffees. We yearn for our Australian flat whites. However that is just what we like. For me the coffee here is bitter, then I’m not a huge fan of coffee in Europe, which doesn’t mean I think it iis bad it just means its not for me. I love the cafe culture here in BA and love how unpretentious it is, something that I can’t always say about the cafe culture in Melbourne.

  34. Pingback: I Love You, Buenos Aires. But Your Coffee Sucks. « One Day Cafe

  35. Oriana

    Good or bad depends on each person’ s taste. For good expreso try a trypical old fashioned italian bar called Le Caravelle. It’s downtown on Lavalle and Maipu. Not a pretty place, but very good espressos.

  36. Porteña

    I´m an Argentinean, born and raised. I would like to clarify something: people in Argentina don´t go to Starbucks because they like the quality of the COFFEE, we don´t actually buy coffee per-se there. Starbucks are usually packed with young people (15-35 years old) that are fascinated by American culture, as well as the more “creative” drinks such as vanilla lattes, caramel macchiatto, frappucchino and so on. I´m not against it, I consumme it to. But it´s not because we don´t like our coffee. Older people wouldn´t be caught dead drinking a Starbucks coffee

  37. Another Australian

    Thanks for this post. Totally agree, and apparently it’s because they use Robusta beans, not Arabica, which is a different plant altogether (you now find it in Nescafé Gold). For my money there is such a thing as good coffee, first in Italy, second in Australia (sorry), although it’s sometimes too strong there, third in Spain and fourth in France, where it is too weak. Holland is awful, Germany worse. England tries but fails (Scots don’t bother), the US is best not mentioned. The difference in Argentina is that it’s the first place I’ve seen where the look is fine, and the product is appalling. Don’t tell me about cortados: ever had a real doppio? Now another question: when are the locals going to wake up to the fact that the meat is now terrible – nothing like a decade ago. this is really a shame. Thankfully there is still good wine.

  38. Maggie

    I have located the most wonderful spot for coffee in San Telmo. It is a little stand at Mercado de San Telmo called Coffee Town. They make a latte as good as the one’s I drink in Melbourne. When I tasted the first one, I nearly cried with delight. The people who run the coffee stand are lovely and cool. So do yourself a big favour and have a coffee at this splendid little gem!

  39. John

    This article has it right. Anyone commenting that Argentine coffee is anything but sub-par has clearly lost their mind or has never tasted coffee with a semblance of strength or flavor. I had the (dubious) conception that I was coming to some of the best coffee in the world in South America… not to be found in Argentina. Starbucks is terrible as well but it beats almost anything available in Bs As (I still don’t buy it tho), and for those who think people in the United States only drink coffee from Dunkin Donuts, you should take a trip to the West Coast where you are sure to find an amazing cup of Joe!

  40. Jorge

    Federico Lacroze railway station in Chacarita, main hall street level, great espresso!

  41. Juan

    There are so many places to drink a coffee in Buenos Aires, it’s amazing.
    And thats the problem. If you have good eye, your experience here will be great. We have very good expressos.

    Starbucks, it’s industrial coffee, the best of them.

    Expresso and Starbucks I think that they are in different categories.

  42. liz

    At last a decent coffee to be found in B.A….Maggie was correct, “Coffee Town” A small stand in the Mercado de San Telmo..complete with barista….Try it!!

  43. Norwegian coffee fanatic

    Smeterling on Uruguay 1308 in Recoleta is the best coffee I´ve tasted so far in BA. Have not tried Lattente, but it is on my list for tomorrow! And I agree with the posters who say that BA coffee is generally terrible – I am really surprised at the poor quality. One poster made the point of cleanliness, which is a huge one; if the dispenser is not properly cleaned, the coffee will suck, no matter how fancy the machine and the beans.
    Norway used to have horrible coffee, but we now have some really good places – I would even say excellent. Th same goes for the other Scandinavian countries. Some of you need to distinguish between the ambience of a coffee place and the actual quality of the coffee.
    As for New York City; try Cafe Grumpy for excellent coffee (www.cafegrumpy.com)
    And as for the Aussie that put France in fourth place, shame on you. French coffee is just not very good in most places – it´s really hard to find a good cup (http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/ristretto-paris-coffee-improving-sort-of/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0).
    I agree with you that Italy is a world ahead of the rest of us. But the world of coffee nerds is evolving quickly and in strange places – one of the best flat whites I have ever had was in Athens, at Tailor Made on Agias Eirinis Square 2.
    And, in closing, I think you guys need to calm down a little about your Starbucks hatred: it is not great, but it is not terrible either. It is, as the author of the article rightly points out, a good alternative in places where the coffee is horrible.

  44. wilmarie

    Cafes in Buenos Aires are beautiful , the people are even more beautiful and super nice! Coffee in BA? well tolerated. My husband and I found this coffee place called Full City House Coffee House in old Palermo and serves delicious coffee!!!

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