A fellow I know back home in Carrboro owns a kick ass coffee shop called Open Eye Cafe. If you live there, or if you’ve hit it up while passing through, you might refer to it as Carrboro’s “living room.” That’s a high compliment for a business that deals in mostly $2 transactions and a lot of internet poached by kids in Carolina blue sweatshirts. But it’s the living room feel that makes people stick around, and when they stick around they are more likely to spend money. Only a special place can marry atmosphere and product – The Eye nails it.
Besides owning the place, Scott Conary is also the head judge for the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE), a Portland-Based nonprofit that upholds the highest standards in specialty coffee. Their vision is awesome: to live in a world that embraces excellence and sustainable economies. The ACE hosts rigorous juried coffee competitions in coffee origin countries, and also manages online auctions for the winning coffee beans. And here’s the coolest part—the majority of the earnings from these events go directly back to the farmers.
Calling Scott a friend would be pushing it, but we’re as friendly as most folks are in cozy little Carrboro. He and I are connected on Facebook so I usually know where in the world he’s judging. I doubt anyone could do what he does without an unmatched passion for coffee. And because he’s so passionate, it’s easy to get excited about his updates from the Philippines or Vietnam or Costa Rica or wherever, congratulating the winner of a competition he just judged or whatever. Not only is it good marketing for his business, but it’s inspirational for my own life.
I know as well as anyone that there’s good coffee in Latin America. And since I am currently in Mexico City, I figured I’d reach out to Scott to see if he had any café recommendations in the DF. I’m here to write most of the day but I need something to do in the evenings. So I figured why not get my espresso on and turn my penchant for good coffee into a writing project.
Scott passed on a handful of recommendations he got from his buddy, Arturo Hernandez, owner of Mexico City-based Café Etrusca, a world class coffee and product wholesaler. I figured I’d try to visit them all while also getting to know the neighborhoods a little better.
My inexperience on the weekend Metro made day one of my specialty coffee adventure a bit of a challenge; wrong turns, missed connections, and sardine-packed trains making it impossible to exit. But I still managed to get a quality fix, albeit only one (after having planned three stops). Fact is I’m still learning a system that serves a city of 21 million. What can I say, I’m used to Carrboro’s whopping 20,000.
So whether you are an armchair coffee lover or just looking for a good place for espresso in the DF, this series is for you. (NOTE: I originally thought that the final post would be a ranking, of sorts, a top ten list of espresso cafés in the DF. But fact is, they all rocked. You pretty much can’t go wrong. So read up and get out there. Get your buzz on.)
Big thanks to Scott Conary and Arturo Hernandez – off I go!