Gradios Deli-Café (Roma Norte)

I must have arrived between morning rushes because two employees were scrambling to sweep, mop and bus tables covered in ceramic cups and shiny sppons. But that didn’t stop them from greeting me as I entered. Brooms in hand, both looked up and said hola. Okay, now we’re talking.

I was impressed with their use of space. Sort of reminded me of a tiny house. You know, one of those hundred square feed jobbers with beds and closets hidden within coffee tables and ironing boards. Not an inch of wasted space, every nook used for storage, preparation, or display. I applaud such dedication and creativity. It tells me they are serious about what they do.

I ordered my standard double espresso and took a seat at a four top. When the barista delivered my shots, I asked if she’d mind if I blogged about my Gradios experience. I didn’t catch her entire response, but it was hesitant and went something like, “Well, as long as you don’t say bad things.” I chuckled and hoped the beautiful espresso before me was as good as it looked—deep brown swirled foam, impeccable imperfection a hot cup, my mouth watering.

But first, the nose. Cinnamon, no doubt. Nutmeg, possibly. The zing of real Mexican canela, definitely. We were off to a good start.

Next up, the taste. Sometimes when I am mindfully sampling espresso, a color pops into my head as the first descriptor. This seems a bit esoteric, but I wonder if there’s something to it? In this case, my Gradios double shot tasted green. Like a deep, foresty green. The color of the crayon you’d use to draw the zigs and zags of a tall conifer, a Christmas tree, or the jacket of a Master’s golf champ. That’s where my taste experience began.

But then, everything flipped. The green hues bolted as my hind tongue turned them into freshly baked bread. I was transported to an outdoor clay oven, a rack of cooling loaves that teased. Inspiring intense hunger and desire. Then, as the shot cooled it morphed yet again, growing extra rich and pudding-heavy. The final sip was a graham cracker and immediately validated my decision not to buy any of their (vegan) postres. After all, I just drank a cup full of baked goods, espresso style.

The longer I stayed, the less atmospheric Gradios became. Once it was cleaned up, it turned uppity, which made me feel out of place. So I stacked up my cup and brought it to the counter to pay—28 pesos (about US$1.75).

I asked the barista if I could take a few photos of the place and she didn’t respond. Just shook her head and mumbled something I couldn’t quite understand. But I went outside and did it anyhow, wondering if her apprehension came from a lack of faith in the product, or a lack of confidence in my Gradios experience. Know what? I’ll never know. One and done.

LOCATION: Luis Moya 115, 06070 Colonia Roma

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