Mexican Coffee or “Café de Olla” is a wonderfully warming spiced coffee that’s easy to make in any kitchen. It’s a traditional Mexican drink recipe made with ground coffee, cinnamon, and dark sugar.
I’ve made my Cafe de Olla for Day of The Dead or Día de los Muertos, and it’s so good with some chocolate cake or Pan Dulce.
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Please let me know if you have any questions about this recipe. I read all the comments myself and I try to help as soon as I can. I have readers from all levels of comfort and experience in the kitchen on my site, and I’ve tried to answer some of your questions already in the post. But if I’ve missed anything, please feel free to leave a comment and ask.
Café de olla translates to ‘coffee from a pot’ or ‘pot coffee’ in English.
The “pot” that the name is referring to is a traditional porous clay pot that can also be used to cook beans. The clay pot gives the coffee a nice earthy flavor, and it keeps the coffee warm for a long time because the pot itself retains heat well.
If you’d like to get one of these pots, they can be found at Mexican and Latin markets, or you can grab a Mexican Clay Bean Olla Pot via my Amazon affiliate link.
If you don’t have a clay pot, simply use a medium sized saucepan instead.
Traditionally, this coffee is served black and in clay mugs called jarritos.
What is café de olla made of?
Café de Olla is a traditional Mexican spiced coffee that’s brewed over an open flame, and steeped with cinnamon, and sweetened with piloncillo or brown sugar.
Optionally, you can add orange peel, anise, and cloves as desired.
Let’s take a quick look at the ingredients.
For the coffee:
A bold dark roast coffee will have a more full-bodied flavor and less acidic taste, and will be perfect for this drink. Use your favorite brand, or look for a Mexican coffee.
For the sugar:
Piloncillo, a dark Mexican cane sugar, is traditionally used. It’s an unrefined sugar made by evaporating sugarcane juice. It’s then poured into molds that are typically cone or cylinder shaped to harden. It has a sweet, caramel-like flavor that’s a bit more complex than regular dark brown sugar. Piloncillo is also known as panela, rapadura, and chancaca, and can be found in Mexican and Latin American markets. If you don’t have the traditional sugar, feel free to use dark brown sugar.
For the cinnamon:
Mexican cinnamon sticks, also known as canela or Ceylon will have a smooth mild slightly citrusy cinnamon flavor, and are traditionally used in this coffee. Again, these can be found in Mexican markets, and they often have a larger flakier appearance than the typical cassia grocery store cinnamon sticks. Sometimes I can find them in a small spice section in my store near bags of dried chiles at the end of one of the aisles. But if you can’t find them, just go with regular cinnamon sticks.
I think it’s important for anyone who might be interested to learn about traditional methods and how to switch things up so you can easily make this at home without having to buy too many things.
You’ll also love my Mexican Mocha recipe.
How to make
This recipe is super easy to make and takes no special equipment, and you can use whatever ingredients you like. You can make it authentic with authentic ingredients, or make it accessible with locally available ingredients.
The full printable recipe ingredients and instructions are available in the recipe card at the bottom of the post. You can find important tips and tricks in the post.
Pop the cinnamon & brown sugar into a pan with the water. Heat that, about 7 minutes, until the sugar dissolves.
When the water starts boiling, add the ground coffee, turn off the heat, stir, cover the pot, and let steep for 5 minutes or regular brew. 8 minutes for a stronger coffee, or 3 minutes for weaker coffee.
Pour the brewed coffee through a strainer to serve. I’ve tested a couple different straining methods, and like to put a coffee filter in a strainer over a large pitcher.
I’ve also tested the Chemex pour over glass coffeemaker, and although it works, it wasn’t my favorite straining method.
Or, add the steeped coffee to a French press, be sure to remove the cinnamon sticks.
Can I change it up?
Absolutely, this drink is customizable.
You can make it sweeter with more sugar, spicier with more cinnamon or by adding orange peel, anise, or cloves.
For stronger coffee flavor, steep it for about 8 minutes.
Though not traditional, serve it iced or with a splash of cream. I like to brew it, pop it in the fridge in an air tight container, then pour out a refreshing drink.
And, I make it spookier with some ice skulls.
You can also spike it with some liqueur. Kahlua, Bailey’s, Frangelico, rum, whiskey, brandy, and amaretto are all great choices.
I love a good strong cup of coffee. I find that this recipe makes a nice balanced cup of coffee because of the addition of cinnamon and sugar.
If you’d like your coffee stronger, leave it to steep for 8 minutes. If you’d like a weaker brew, steep it for 3 minutes, or add a bit of water or milk to it after brewing.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an air tight container for a few days.
Rewarm coffee on the stove or in the microwave.
I love it brewed and refrigerated so I have a cold coffee to pour over ice. Maybe with a splash of cream.
Items you may want
- Mexican Clay Olla Pot
- Mexican coffee
- Mexican cinnamon sticks
- 4 cup glass Pyrex
- Coffee filters
- French press
- Skull ice molds
- Edible butterflies
- jarritos clay mugs
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via the pin.
- 4 cups water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar panela or piloncillo
- 4 tablespoons dark roast ground coffee
- Place the water, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan, and heat on medium-high to bring to a boil, cooking until the sugar is dissolved, about 7 minutes.4 cups water, 2 cinnamon sticks, 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- When the water starts boiling, add the ground coffee, turn off the heat, stir, cover the pot and let steep for 5 minutes.4 tablespoons dark roast ground coffee
- Pour through a strainer to serve. Or, add the steeped coffee to a French press, be sure to remove the cinnamon sticks.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.