Café Passmar (Del Valle)

Yesterday I made an attempt to try Café Passmar’s highly recommended coffee, but contrary to information on their Facebook page, they were closed. Cerrado. I got a sense of the layout though—a compact bar and cozy seating area tucked into Mercado Lázaro Cárdenas in Del Valle. There was even a mysterious upstairs nook that could be accessed by a steep wooden staircase. Maybe they eventually opened up later, but I didn’t stick around to find out.

Went back again today and the entire mercado was hopping. A quick look at Passmar’s menu and it was obvious the place is run by business people. It could have been a Starbuck’s menu, offering not only every coffee drink imaginable, but also convenient packs of instant oatmeal and lunchtime sandwiches. With all the bustle of shoppers down the market’s skinny aisles, the scenario was more fast-foodish than specialty.

I didn’t dig the ordering area. The counter was nearly as tall as my shoulders which meant the employees behind it were basically hidden. I get it—they have space issues. But right off the bat there was very little chance for any sort of connection. And isn’t that what specialty is all about? When it was my turn, the smiling woman behind the counter did her best to get my order, pass it off to the barista, and move me along. Got to hand it to them, they are super efficient.

I took a seat and within minutes my double espresso was brought out with a cup of water on the side. I can’t lie, the shot looked generic. Like something you might blast from a Keurig. Sure, the color and temperature of the foam was a sandy Thai beach in summertime, but unlike the beach, it was soulless. I breathed in notes of caramel and hoped for a similar taste.

As the espresso touched my lips, then my tongue, there was a tightness in my mouth. The shot was taking control and knew just what to do. It was on a mission and telling my outer taste buds to step aside, that it had some business to do in the back. And once it got there, its job had only started—the job being that of massaging my tongue. I was wildly satisfied, thrilled and surprised by a new sensation brought on by Passmar’s enlightened espresso.

On the table was a tin that held straws, napkins, and sticks for stirring. A sticker affixed to its side said, “Un padre es un tesoro, un hermano es un consuelo, un amigo es ambos.” Which translates to, “A father is a treasure, a brother is a comfort, a friend is both.” Yeah, I agree, but fancy quotes can’t do the hard work for specialty coffee—and by hard work I don’t mean roasting spectacular beans, I’m talking about giving customers a reason to fall in love with the business.

I loved Passmar’s espresso. Even bought some beans to bring home to North Carolina. But I can’t say I have a budding crush on Passmar. And even though it’s relatively close to my flat I doubt I’ll make another trip to the mercado for a subsequent pull. When I want a fix of good coffee, it’s more than just my addiction talking. I want to participate in the experience, only half of which is a quality shot.

Café Passmar happened too fast for a slowing-down guy like me. But there’s no doubt they’ve dialed in some kind of crazy espresso juju. I mean seriously, have you ever had a tongue massage?

LOCATION: Mercado Lázaro Cárdenas, Local 237, Calle Adolfo Prieto S/N, Colonia Del Valle

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