Café de Olla Recipe: A Mexican Delight

Café de Olla Recipe

Café de Olla Recipe: A Mexican Delight

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Did you know that Mexico is the seventh-largest coffee producer in the world? This rich tradition includes a unique gem: Café de Olla. This isn’t just any spiced coffee recipe. It’s steeped in the heritage of Mexican cuisine. My fondest moments are sharing homemade Café de Olla recipes with loved ones—it’s more than a drink; it’s an embrace of warmth and hospitality.

So let’s dive into this Café de Olla recipe and bring a piece of my Mexican kitchen to yours. My journey with this traditional Mexican coffee began early, with every sip weaving itself into my morning memories.

Introduction to Café de Olla

When we talk about an authentic Mexican drink, Café de Olla naturally stands out. This cinnamon-spiced coffee isn’t just a beverage; it’s a symbol of Mexican heritage and hospitality.

Café de Olla cultural significance

Picture a quiet Mexican countryside at dawn. Families gather around to share this aromatic, soul-warming brew made in a traditional clay pot called an “olla.”

You can almost smell the enticing mix of coffee and cinnamon wafting through the air.

Café de Olla’s cultural significance is immense. This cinnamon-spiced coffee is not just a morning pick-me-up but a cornerstone of social gatherings and festive occasions.

It brings people together, creating connections over its rich, inviting flavour.

As you sip this authentic Mexican drink, you’re not just enjoying coffee; you’re partaking in a cherished tradition.

Every sip of this cinnamon-spiced coffee tells a story, one that invites you to embrace the essence of Mexican culture.

The History of Café de Olla

Café de Olla is more than just a drink; it’s a testament to the rich Mexican coffee history that continues to thrive today.

This traditional beverage carries the essence of Mexico’s past and present.

Origins in Mexican Culture

In the early 20th century, during the Mexican Revolution, Café de Olla became a crucial part of the soldiers’ daily lives.

These brave men and women needed more than food to boost their morale, and this spiced coffee provided just that.

The traditional café de olla origins are deeply rooted in these historical events, where simple ingredients like cinnamon and piloncillo were added to boiling coffee in clay pots, or “ollas,” to create a delightful, energising drink.

Mexican coffee history

Evolution Over Time

Since those revolutionary days, the evolution of coffee in Mexico has been remarkable. The recipe for Café de Olla has been passed down through generations, often adapted to suit modern tastes while maintaining its traditional charm.

Today, it is enjoyed not just on rural farms but also in bustling city cafes, symbolising Mexican hospitality and cultural heritage.

From its beginnings as a wartime staple, Café de Olla has grown into a beloved drink, cherished by Mexicans and coffee enthusiasts worldwide.

Ingredients Needed for Authentic Café de Olla Recipe

Crafting an authentic Café de Olla begins with gathering the right ingredients. The cornerstone of this traditional beverage is Mexican piloncillo, an unrefined cane sugar known for its rich, molasses-like flavour.

Unlike white sugar, piloncillo adds a distinctive depth and sweetness essential to the recipe.

Next come the aromatic components, the café de olla spices. Key among these is cinnamon, preferably the softer, more fragrant Mexican variety known as Ceylon cinnamon.

This spice imparts a warm, inviting aroma that defines Café de Olla.

Optional spices, such as cloves or star anise, can also be added to enhance the flavour profile. While these are not mandatory, they provide an extra layer of complexity that elevates the drink.

For those looking to replicate the authentic flavour, it’s worth including them.

Finding authentic ingredients might seem daunting, especially if you’re in the United States. However, many well-stocked supermarkets and specialty Latino markets can supply the Mexican piloncillo and café de olla spices you need.

Substitutions can be made, but striving for authenticity adds to the satisfaction of savouring each sip just as it’s meant to be enjoyed.

Ultimately, every component, from the Mexican piloncillo to the collection of café de olla spices, plays a crucial role.

They work together to bring the rich, sweet, and spicy notes that make Café de Olla an unforgettable part of Mexican culinary tradition.

Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing Café de Olla

Café de Olla Recipe

Café de Olla

Café de Olla is a traditional Mexican coffee brewed with cinnamon and piloncillo, offering a warm, spiced flavor that's perfect for cozy mornings and festive gatherings.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course beverage
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4
Calories 80 kcal


  • 1 liter of water
  • 4 tablespoons of Mexican coffee beans coarsely ground
  • 1 small piloncillo cone or 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Optional: cloves star anise, or orange peel for extra flavor


  • Gather Ingredients: Ensure you have all the necessary ingredients ready.
  • Boil Water: In a large pot (preferably a clay pot or "olla"), bring 1 liter of water to a boil.
  • Add Piloncillo and Spices: Add the piloncillo, cinnamon stick, and any optional spices (cloves, star anise, or orange peel) to the boiling water. Stir until the piloncillo dissolves completely.
  • Add Coffee: Once the piloncillo is dissolved, add the ground coffee beans to the pot.
  • Steep Coffee: Let the coffee steep for about 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend.
  • Strain and Serve: Turn off the heat and let the coffee sit for a few


Using a clay pot (olla) enhances the earthy flavor of the coffee, but a regular pot works as well.
Adjust the sweetness by adding more or less piloncillo or dark brown sugar to taste.
Keyword Café de Olla Recipe, cinnamon coffee, Mexican Coffee, piloncillo coffee, Spiced Coffee, traditional coffee

Embarking on the journey of making traditional café de olla is a delightful experience. Let’s break it down into simple steps, beginning with gathering all your ingredients.

Gathering Your Ingredients

  • 1 liter of water
  • 4 tablespoons of coffee beans (preferably Mexican)
  • 1 small piloncillo cone (or dark brown sugar as a substitute)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Optional: cloves, star anise, or orange peel for extra flavor

Using authentic ingredients is crucial in café de olla preparation. This ensures a genuine taste of Mexico right in your home.

Brewing the Perfect Coffee

Once you’ve gathered everything, start by boiling water in a traditional olla or a large pot. Add the piloncillo, cinnamon stick, and any optional spices.

Allow these to dissolve and infuse into the boiling water, unlocking their rich aromas.

After a few minutes, add your coffee beans and let them steep for about five minutes. This short brewing time is essential to brewing Mexican coffee to perfection, offering a balance between bold coffee flavours and the delicate sweetness of piloncillo.

Adding the Final Touches

Turn off the heat and let the coffee sit for a few more minutes to fully develop its flavors. When ready, strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove the coffee grounds and spices.

Serve immediately for the best flavour, preferably in rustic mugs to elevate the experience.

These final touches in café de olla preparation—serving it hot and fresh, perhaps garnished with a cinnamon stick—truly honour this beloved Mexican tradition.

Why You’ll Love This Café de Olla Recipe

There’s something magically comforting about a warm, spiced beverage like Café de Olla. One sip, and you’re wrapped in a blend of robust coffee and comforting spices, taking chilly mornings to a new level of cosiness.

Ever since I began to enjoy traditional Mexican coffee, my mornings have had a special kind of warmth that only Café de Olla can bring.

Imagine this: a rainy afternoon, the soft patter of rain against the window, and a steaming cup of Café de Olla in your hand.

It doesn’t just warm your body; it nourishes your soul. The blend of cinnamon and piloncillo provides an inviting aroma and an enticing flavour that’s hard to resist.

This is one of the many benefits of Café de Olla that I cherish—the way it turns ordinary moments into extraordinary ones.

What makes this traditional Mexican coffee even more special is its versatility. You can savour it slowly in a quiet moment of reflection or serve it as the centrepiece of a lively gathering.

Each ingredient contributes to the experience, from the earthy piloncillo to the aromatic spices. Not to mention, the benefits of Café de Olla’s ingredients include the antioxidant properties of cinnamon, making it a treat for both your taste buds and your health.

So, why will you love this Café de Olla recipe? Because it brings joy, warmth, and a taste of Mexican heritage right to your table.

Whether you’re enjoying a cup by yourself or sharing it with loved ones, this warm, spiced beverage is bound to become a favourite in your coffee repertoire.

Tips for Serving and Enjoying Café de Olla Recipe

There’s something magical about enjoying a warm cup of Café de Olla. From its inviting aroma to its rich flavors, this traditional Mexican coffee creates a unique drinking experience.

Here are some tips to ensure you savor every moment.

Best Times to Serve

While Café de Olla is delightful at any time, certain moments amplify its charm. For instance, serving it during holiday gatherings adds a touch of Mexican coffee, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

It’s also perfect for winding down after dinner parties, giving guests a memorable finale to the evening.

Pairings and Accompaniments

Pairing Café de Olla with the right accompaniments enhances its rich, spiced profile. My favorites include:

  • Pan dulce: The sweet bread balances the coffee’s deep, earthy flavors.
  • Tres Leches cake: This moist, creamy dessert perfectly complements the warmth of Café de Olla.
  • Fruit empanadas: Their fruity sweetness offers a delightful contrast.

These coffee pairings not only taste great but also deepen the Mexican coffee experience, turning a simple cup into a cultural celebration.

Next time you enjoy Café de Olla, incorporate these Café de Olla serving tips for an unforgettable experience!


Reflecting on the journey we’ve taken through the making of Café de Olla, I’m reminded of the warmth this homemade Café de Olla experience brings.

It’s not merely about brewing a cup of coffee; it’s about connecting with Mexican coffee tradition and savouring the comforting blend of spices that carry generations of history in each sip.

This beautiful beverage brings people together, whether you’re sharing stories over steaming cups or taking quiet moments to yourself with its soothing flavours.

Every time I prepare Café de Olla, I embrace the cultural heritage that it represents, feeling a deep bond with my roots and a shared experience with loved ones.

If you haven’t tried making Café de Olla yet, I invite you to bring this piece of Mexico into your home. The recipe is simple, but the joy it will add to your coffee repertoire is vast.

Give it a try and discover the delight and tradition it brings to a daily ritual. Happy brewing, and may your mornings be filled with the rich aromas of this cherished Mexican coffee.


What is Café de Olla?

Café de Olla is a traditional Mexican coffee that’s brewed with cinnamon, piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar), and sometimes spices like cloves and star anise. It’s known for its warm, spiced sweetness and is typically brewed in a clay pot, or “olla.”

How do I make an authentic Café de Olla?

To make an authentic Café de Olla, you’ll need to gather ingredients like Mexican coffee, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, and optional spices. The coffee is traditionally brewed in a clay pot, which enhances the flavor. I provide a step-by-step guide in my recipe section that details the entire process.

Where can I find the ingredients for Café de Olla?

Many of the ingredients can be found at your local grocery store, particularly in the international or Latin American section. For authentic piloncillo and Mexican cinnamon, you may need to visit a specialty store or order online. Some substitutions can be made if you’re unable to find the exact ingredients, but I’ll guide you on how to do this without compromising authenticity.

What is the significance of using a clay pot (olla) for brewing Café de Olla?

The clay pot, or “olla,” is traditional in Mexican cuisine and is believed to enhance the flavour of the coffee by imparting a unique, earthy taste. It also helps in evenly distributing the heat during brewing, which is essential for achieving the perfect balance of flavours in Café de Olla.

Can I use regular sugar instead of piloncillo for Café de Olla?

While regular sugar can be used as a substitute, piloncillo is recommended because it provides a richer, more complex flavour that’s distinct to Café de Olla. Piloncillo is unrefined cane sugar, and it adds a depth of sweetness that regular sugar can’t quite replicate.

What occasions are best for serving Café de Olla?

Café de Olla is perfect for various occasions, from chilly mornings and cosy rainy afternoons to festive gatherings and holiday celebrations. It’s a versatile drink that brings warmth and a touch of Mexican tradition to any event.

Can I pair Café de Olla with certain foods?

Absolutely! Café de Olla pairs beautifully with traditional Mexican pastries like pan dulce or a hearty slice of Tres Leches cake. The aromatic and spiced notes of the coffee complement the sweetness of these treats, creating a delightful culinary experience.

What are some benefits of drinking Café de Olla?

Besides its delicious taste, Café de Olla offers several benefits. Spices like cinnamon have antioxidant properties, and unrefined cane sugar is a more natural sweetener compared to processed sugars. Plus, it’s a comforting, warming beverage that’s perfect for relaxation and social gatherings.
I'm a coffee enthusiast who loves getting into the heart and soul of Denver's coffee scene. My mission? To share my passion for coffee with you by providing expert tips, revealing hidden gems, and anything else that will make your coffee experience more enjoyable. When I'm not out exploring new cafes or experimenting with coffee recipes, you can find me sharing my discoveries with other coffee enthusiasts like yourself.
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