Café de Olla is a traditional way to prepare coffee in Mexico. Lightly sweetened, scented with cinnamon, cloves, star anise and served piping hot, this is a wonderful way to start your day. If you need a little self care this week, join me in making this Mexican spiced coffee.

cafe de olla in clay Mexican pottery with a Mexican cup and cinnamon stick

What is Café de Olla?

Café de olla is a traditional coffee beverage that is popular in Mexico. Literally translated it means “coffee from a pot.” It is typically served in cold or rural climates, which makes a ton of sense to me. It is served piping hot and is perfumed with delicious warming spices like cinnamon and star anise.

Café de olla recipes also call for piloncillo, a special kind of sugar that has a caramel flavor that is absolutely divine. If you like your coffee a little on the sweet side, you are going to love this recipe.

If you don’t have piloncillo, you can substitute with brown sugar.

piloncillo panela cones on a beige stone surface

Why I Love This Coffee Recipe

Making café de olla is a way for me to meditate on what needs to get done for the day while spending a little time refilling my cup (literally).

While the recipe is quite simple, the result smells and tastes amazing. Your whole home will be filled with the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee scented ever so slightly with warming cinnamon, clove, and star anise.

And right now, in the midst of the cold winter, there is nothing that can get me to close my eyes and take a deep, cleansing breath like wrapping my hands around a mug of this deliciously sweet Mexican coffee. Do yourself a favor and just try it, okay? Because after one deep whiff of this special coffee you’ll see for yourself – anything feels possible.

I wanted to share a video with you of my morning routine, which is near and dear to my heart. I sit at our kitchen table with my iPhone and my iPad and read my emails and plan my to-do list. Normally, electronics are not allowed at the kitchen table, but when I’m alone I change the rules (shhh, don’t tell the kids). I listen to the birds chirping outside, eat my breakfast, and drink my hot cup of coffee — it’s heavenly.

So come along with me this morning and treat yourself to a cup of traditional café de olla. You deserve it!

ingredients to make cafe de olla: canela, coffee beans, anise, cloves, piloncillo

How to Make Café de Olla at Home

If you are worried about adding anything to your morning routine, don’t be. This recipe takes just 10 minutes to get into your mug.

Boil: In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Carefully add piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and star anise pod. Stir with a wooden spoon until the piloncillo dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Steep: Add the ground coffee and stir. Lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Strain: Strain the coffee through a cheesecloth lined sieve and enjoy!

Traditionally, this drink is made in a clay pot known as a olla de barro, which imparts a distinctive, earthy flavor. If you don’t happen to have one on hand, I will show you how to make it using a ceramic dutch oven instead.

If you want to make café de olla the traditional way — I highly recommend making it in this lead-free olla de barro and serving in a barro (clay) mug {by Hernan Mexico}.

pouring cafe de olla in a Mexican clay pottery cup

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I serve café de olla?

I tend to like café de olla without milk, but feel free to add milk or cream to your liking, or for a special occasion serve with a splash of Kahlúa. 

I like to enjoy my coffee with breakfast. Generally speaking, I eat a couple of eggs on avocado toast. But, if I’m feeling particularly in need of a little TLC, you just might find me dipping a cowboy cookie into my morning drink. Don’t tell!

Can I make this coffee drink ahead of time?

As with most hot coffee, I’m of the opinion that café de olla is best served fresh from the pot. That said, if you happen to have leftovers you can absolutely refrigerate them for future use. And if you’re more of an iced coffee person? Try freezing some of the leftovers into cubes and make yourself an iced café de olla instead! 

What is the best coffee to use for café?

I personally love this recipe with a bold and flavorful dark Mexican coffee or dark roast coffee. That said, feel free to use whatever blend you keep on hand!

Need more morning inspiration?

Check out these other ways to start your day off right:

If you tried this recipe for Café de Olla, please comment below to let me know how you liked it! You can also tag me on Instagram to show me your creations.

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woman holding a cup of cafe de olla in a Mexica pottery barro cup

cafe de olla in an earthenware mug with a cinnamon stick garnish

Café de Olla (Mexican Spiced Coffee)

4.54 (13 ratings)
Café de Olla is a traditional way to prepare coffee in Mexico. Lightly sweetened, scented with cinnamon and star anise and served piping hot, this is a wonderful way to start your day. If you need a little self care this week, join me in making my very favorite morning beverage.

Ingredients

Instructions 

  • In a medium saucepan bring the water to a boil. Carefully add piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and anise star.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon until the piloncillo dissolves, about 5 minutes. Add the ground coffee and stir, lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Strain the coffee through cheesecloth and enjoy.

Video

Notes

  • I personally love this recipe with a bold and flavorful dark Mexican coffee or dark roast coffee. That said, feel free to use whatever blend you keep on hand!
  • Piloncillo is often used in Mexican cuisine. It is unrefined cane sugar, usually found in the shape of small cones. Feed free to substitute with dark brown sugar. 
  • Enjoy black, or with milk, cream, or a splash of Kahlúa. 
  • For a twist, try serving with a wedge of orange peel.
Calories: 105kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 13mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 24g, Calcium: 27mg, Iron: 1mg

Originally published: August 2013. 

Photography: Jenna SparksVideo by Pure Cinematography