The Coffee Culture in Cusco, Peru
I studied abroad in Cusco, Peru during the summer of 2014. It was absolutely the best thing I’ve ever done in my life and I will cherish my experience there forever.
I haven’t written much about it on this blog because I’ve been trying to figure out how to do it justice. But as I currently find myself with a few months before my next adventure I think now is the perfect time to start writing about what I learned in Cusco.
So to start, I’d like to talk about the intersection of the two great loves of my life: Peru and coffee.
The coffee culture in Peru is nothing like it was in Korea, and is even different from how it is in the United States. In Korea coffee is, or seems to me, to be mostly about the cafe. It’s about sitting in a beautifully designed cafe, enjoying the company of the person you’re with, and chatting over a, comparatively speaking, expensive coffee. It’s an event. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me.
In Peru coffee is utilitarian. It’s cheap and strong and delicious. There aren’t as many cafe’s meant for just sitting and talking, but still coffee is everywhere.
With my host family we drank instant coffee every morning. And while I was a little unsure of it at first I now equate it with early morning sunshine, homemade Peruvian breakfasts, and very fond memories of a family I love. I never thought instant coffee would be something I cherish, but here we are.
Everything about that photo is Cusco to me. The giant thermos, the can of coffee, a pot of sugar, and the little napkin holder which has, “hogar dulce hogar” written across it. Home sweet home. I’d say that’s accurate.
What more could you ask for than a cat on your lap a coffee in your hand?
Moving on from the coffee you drink at home, now lets talk about the café scene.
My favorite cafe in Cusco is called Dos X 3. If you’re in the Plaza de Armas and you head up Calle Marquez towards the Plaza de San Fransisco it will be on your left. It’s a tiny cafe but perfectly located right next to the city center.
“No puede haber nada malo donde hay buen café.”
There can be nothing wrong where there is good coffee.
Cafe Dos X 3 is certainly one of those places.
Another café we frequented is called La Bondiet. It is located off La Avenida de la Cultura but they also have another location right off of the Plaza de Armas. It was conveniently (or maybe dangerously) close to our school so we often went after class. It’s a fancier chain and a little bit pricier as well.
This is the café where I had my first cortado. Which I would recommend to everyone. It became my drink while I was in Cusco. It’s espresso mixed with an equal amount of milk. Cortado is the past participle of the Spanish word “to cut” so the milk it meant to just cut the bitterness of the espresso, not overwhelm it.
Another place we tried out was La Valeriana. If you’re visiting Coricancha its across the street from the gardens. Along the Avendia del Sol. This café has a cute airy style and yummy pastries.
And if we’re being totally honest I did go to Starbucks quite a few times. Located on the upper right hand corner of the Plaza de Armas, it has free wifi, a free bathroom and reliable coffee.
And expect to get a version of your name written on your cup that even you have probably never heard before.
Aside from cafe’s and bakery’s the best part about “Coffee meets Peru” is just the incredible places you find yourself while having such a familiar drink. Coffee is something that we often don’t even think about, you have it in the morning to wake up (maybe once again in the afternoon if you’re me) and that’s all it is.
That was not my experience in Peru.
Here are just a few of the places I found my self with a cup of coffee.
So to all my fellow coffee lovers out there, consider Cusco part of your future travel plans. There are a million other reasons to visit this amazing city, but this is just one tiny part of why I love Cusco so much.
Enjoy! Thanks for reading.