I thought I was a complete coffee connoisseur when I moved to Mexico. I’d tried Turkish coffee, Brazilian cafezinho, cold brew, and any other coffee beverage that had come my way.

However, one day, when I was sitting in my mother-in-law's kitchen, she served me this sweet and spicy delight in a clay mug I'd never tried. From there, my love affair with Café de Olla began.

It would be unfair for me to keep this festive breakfast drink to myself, so let's get started!

Café de Olla perfectly exemplifies what I love about Mexican culture: it's bold and sweet and never lacking a spice for life.

Having supposedly been invented during the Mexican Revolution to give soldiers energy and warmth to keep on fighting, I'd say it's quite fitting.

As coffee can boost energy and increase alertness, I’m sure you’ll appreciate it as a midday pick-me-up.[1]

Literally meaning “coffee from a pot,” it’s simple to make yet full of flavor. If you’re a coffee lover, you have to try this Mexican spiced coffee at least once!

Ingredients

Here is the list of ingredients authentic Mexican recipes call for:

  • 4 cups of water
  • 3 ounces of piloncillo (or dark brown sugar)
  • Half of a cinnamon stick
  • 4 tablespoons of ground coffee (best if it’s Mexican coffee!)

You can find piloncillo at pretty much any Mexican grocery store, but it's not quite as common in the US. You may be able to find them in little cones if you stop by a Latino market, however.

This cane sugar product is under the name "panela" outside of Mexico, but in Mexico, "panela" refers to the type of cheese.[2]

Steps to Make It

  1. In a medium saucepan, pour in the water, cinnamon, and piloncillo.
  2. Turn on the stove to medium-high heat, simmering lightly until the piloncillo is completely dissolved. This should take around 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Cover the pot, allowing the mixture to steep for 5 minutes or so.
  4. Finally, pour through a strainer to serve (I like the little clay pot mugs or "tazas de barro" as they keep everything hotter longer).

Some people like to include cloves or anise seeds, which makes it even more important to strain the coffee properly.

Keep in mind that the “traditional Mexican way” doesn’t include any whipped cream, chocolate, tequila, or any other ingredients.

However, there are still many popular variations you may find in certain restaurants or resorts.

Variations

Mexican Mocha Coffee

Hot chocolate in Mexico is relatively popular, so it makes sense that these two would be combined eventually.

I find this recipe usually pops up around the holiday season, as everyone starts getting into a festive mood.

Ingredients needed:
  • 6 tablespoons of Mexican coffee beans, coarsely ground
  • 4 cups of cold water
  • 4 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 3.5 ounces of piloncillo or brown sugar (preferably dark brown sugar)
  • 1 orange peel
  • 3 ounces of Mexican chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • You can opt to add a splash of heavy cream
Instructions:
  1. Place coffee grounds in a large French Press, boiling water, and pour over the coffee. Let sit for 2-3 minutes. You don't have to make Mexican coffee strong, but it should never be weak.
  2. Place cinnamon sticks, orange peel, chocolate, and piloncillo in a large saucepan.
  3. Pour coffee into pan and heat gently, stirring for about 10 to 15 minutes until sugar and chocolate are completely melted.
  4. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla.
  5. Remove cinnamon and orange peel, straining into cups.
  6. Optional: top with whipped cream!

Mexican Cinnamon Coffee

With Mexican cinnamon coffee, you'll want to follow almost the exact same recipe for the regular Café de Olla Mexican coffee.

Simply don't include any orange peel, anise, or cloves. After bringing the coffee and cinnamon mixture to a gentle boil, serve immediately to retain the flavor.

Mexican Coffee Cocktail With Tequila

The Mexican coffee cocktail, "carajillo," is pretty popular in Mexico with dessert, and consists of hot coffee with some kind of liquor and a splash of tequila.

Coffee with tequila is pretty much always a good choice, but this coffee drink is exceptional. Here are the details for this Mexican coffee recipe with a twist:

Ingredients needed:
  • 2 ounces of espresso
  • 5 ounces of milk
  • 0.5 ounce sweetener (granulated sugar, vanilla syrup, or simple syrup works best)
  • 0.5 ounce tequila
  • 1 ounce Kahlua coffee liqueur
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Whipped cream
Steps:
  1. Take time brewing espresso and frothing milk for a delicious consistency.
  2. Pour espresso, vanilla syrup, Kahlua, tequila, and a dash of cinnamon into a mug.
  3. Pour in frothed milk.
  4. Top with whipped cream.

This recipe works great on ice during the hotter seasons, too!


What Exactly Is Café de Olla and Why Is It Popular?

It's one of the simplest recipes out there and is easily one of the most popular hot Mexican drinks.

Café de Olla is a delicious brewed coffee recipe made with spices like cinnamon, anise, and cloves, along with piloncillo (unrefined sugar cane) until your desired sweetness.

Café de Olla has been around since the Mexican Revolution (well over 100 years) and has become a huge part of Mexican culture.

If you go to a family member's home in Mexico - especially during the colder months - you'll likely be served a cup of the drink.

It's available at small restaurants, posadas (Christmas parties), and just about any other type of gathering.

It's popular because it's not only a tasty drink, but it's easy to brew up, and it's inexpensive to make large quantities of.

You don't need any special equipment besides a small saucepan (or larger for more people), coffee, piloncillo, and a cinnamon stick.


Related Questions About Making Mexican Coffee

What does Cafe de Olla taste like?

The traditional Mexican coffee Cafe de Olla is sweet in a way that tastes natural rather than saccharine. This is because the piloncillo (similar to dark brown sugar) tastes like molasses. The spiciness that comes from the cinnamon included in the recipe helps balance out the sugar. Depending on who's making the Mexican coffee recipe, you may also taste orange zest and other flavors.

Can I add milk in Mexican Coffee?

Of course, you can add milk to your Mexican coffee! Café con leche, or "coffee with milk," is very common in Mexico, as some people like to lighten the brewed coffee taste or have more sensitive stomachs that don't allow them to drink the coffee straight.


Start Brewing!

If you want to make Mexican coffee at home, this easy Mexican coffee recipe is perfect to try out.

Just make sure you stir all ingredients in nicely, and serve it up in a clay cup for best results, if possible.

Café de Olla is comforting and cozy and one of my favorite drinks to enjoy year-round! I’m sure you’ll love it, too!

References:

  1. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/coffee/#:~:text=Human%20response%20to%20coffee%20or,insomnia%2C%20and%20increased%20heart%20rate.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panela

ShayAnne Weeks

Author

ShayAnne Weeks
Shay is a fun-loving content writer and DJ who enjoys traveling the world whenever, wherever possible. The lifeblood that makes it all attainable has always been a strong cup (or 3) of coffee.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... A Café Cubano con Leche

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