Café de Olla: A Warm Hug in a Mug with a Mexican Twist

recipe for cafe de olla
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Café de Olla: A Warm Hug in a Mug with a Mexican Twist

There are many stories about how cafe de olla was born, but two fundamental elements must first arrive: coffee beans and spices for the magic to happen.

Therefore, the recipe for cafe de olla is pretty basic: cinnamon, piloncillo, clove, star anise, orange, or lemon peel flavor, and the unmistakable touch of clay that permeates the hot drink.

The famous Mexican chronicler Salvador Novo explains that at the beginning of the 18th century, coffee was an imported product in the New World.

It first made port in Haiti, where there are records of its cultivation in 1715, and in Mexico, it can be traced back to 1790.

However, its consumption was uncommon for these colonial palates crazy for hot chocolate and atole.

Cafe “Latte” came first

recipe for cafe de olla
Source: PrikGibb /

The first coffee cups began to conquer the inhabitants of New Spain (later Mexico) by adding milk.

This occurred at the end of the 18th century when the first coffee shop opened on Tacuba Street, where, according to Salvador Novo, the waiters stood at the doors to invite by-passers to come in and drink coffee “French style” (sweetened and with milk).

At the same time, imports brought spices to the tastes of the Spaniards, who were strongly influenced by the flavors of the Middle East due to the Arab occupations in their territory.

Likewise, with the cultivation of sugar cane in these lands began the production of one of its derivatives, piloncillo, which entered the kitchens and began to replace the honey formerly used by the native peoples.

Piloncillo became a crucial ingredient in atoles, cocoa drinks, and, much later, coffee.

And, of course, it would then be the primary ingredient that would shape the recipe for cafe de olla.

The Cafe de Olla discovery

cafe de olla

One version states that cafe de olla originated between 1910 and 1917 during the Mexican Revolution when the “Adelitas” (the revolution soldiers’ maids) prepared this mixture of coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo.

You may want to read: Mexican Candies: The 20 Most Popular and Tasty

However, as happens with all gastronomic creations, it is almost impossible to put a face to their author; in the end, they are the result of the creativity that is cooked over the stove, with the mixture and substitution of ingredients, according to the needs and what is within reach.

Today, many kitchens have replaced the cafe de olla recipe with instant coffee, although its unique flavor continues to be present in the most traditional ones.

It is called cafe de olla because traditionally it was brewed in an earthenware pot and then served in a small jar made of the same material.

Nowadays, not all of us have an earthenware pot to prepare; although it is undoubtedly a classic, we can also use a pewter pot or whatever material we have at home.

Recipe for Cafe de Olla

recipe for cafe de olla
Brown sugar can be used for cafe de olla if no piloncillo is available – Source: vasanty /

If you can, choose the correct type of grind to make medium to coarse coffee, similar to the one used for a French press.

It is not advisable to have too fine a grind since it can have a robust flavor and will be challenging to brew.

Now, let’s make some cafe de olla!


  • 1 liter of water
  • 200 grams of coffee
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 200 grams of piloncillo
  • 4 to 5 star anise pieces
  • 2 cloves
  • half an Orange peel


  • As with any infusion, start by heating the water and adding the piloncillo to dissolve it
  • Now add the cloves, star anise, orange peel, and cinnamon. Wait for the piloncillo to melt completely
  • Finally, add the coffee
  • Remove from the fire after 10 minutes and let it rest
  • Strain and serve

Accompany with your favorite pastries, and don’t forget to share with family and friends. What do you think? Have you tried it yet?

Please share your comments below. See you next time!

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