Coffee Recipes: Cafe de Olla ( Mexican Spiced Coffee )

in Coffee, Coffee Guide, recipe

We’re always on the hunt for new coffee concoctions to try to make at home. While there are many recipes floating around the internet that leave you with a delicious and caffeinated drink, few inspire us as much as the Mexican creation, “café de olla.”

Café de olla is a beautiful, rich, and filling drink that is steeped — no pun intended — in Mexican tradition. We’re happy to introduce you to this unique coffee beverage, give you a little background on its origins, and, of course, teach you how to make it at home! Let’s get started.

What is Café de Olla?

Café de olla, literally translated, means “coffee of the cooking pot.” It’s a spiced coffee drink made in, you guessed it, a cooking pot on the stove.

It came about during the Mexican Revolution around 1910. During the war, women known as “soldaderas” served and supported soldiers by cooking, cleaning, and providing first aid. Many women fought in the war, but soldaderas were strictly there to support the military. One of the things they used to provide comfort and energy was café de olla, which they made with coffee grounds, cinnamon, cloves, chocolate, and piloncillo, which is unrefined cane sugar.

The drink quickly gained popularity for its ease of preparation and tastiness. It soon became more prevalent in Mexico and eventually spread to other countries as well, including the United States.

How Do You Make Café de Olla?

The process of making café de olla is very simple. You’ll need the following equipment and ingredients:


  • 9 cups of fresh, filtered water
  • 9 tablespoons of coffee (We recommend Volcanica Mexican coffee)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • ½ cone of piloncillo OR ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • 1-2 squares of semi-sweet chocolate (optional)



1. Begin by adding water, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, piloncillo/brown sugar, and optional chocolate square(s) to a large cooking pot.

2. Bring mixture to a boil.

3. Turn heat off and skim the foam off the top of the mixture.

4. Stir in coffee grounds and let soak for 5 minutes with heat off — remove from heat if necessary to ensure the mix doesn’t return to a boil.

5. Strain coffee using a fine strainer or cheesecloth. You can also use a French press to separate coffee grounds and spices from the liquid.

6.  Serve hot.

What Kind of Coffee Grounds Should I Use?

The coffee choice is really a personal preference, but a darker roasted coffee will best suit the flavor profile of the final drink. The spices and chocolate will combine beautifully with a medium-dark or dark-roasted coffee that has notes of chocolate, nuts, and toffee.

If you want to make the beverage in the most traditional manner possible, you should choose a coffee of Mexican origin. Mexican coffee is known for its rich flavor profiles, and they often roast well and offer natural notes of nuts and chocolate. Even lighter roasted Mexican coffees carry these tasting notes, so Mexican coffee is traditionally used when making café de olla, but it’s also perfect for mixing with spices, chocolate, and sweet piloncillo.

Any Other Options for Serving?

Café de olla is best served hot, right after it’s done being brewed and strained. The flavors may become muddy or overly loud if left to chill, but adding milk to cold café de olla is particularly delicious. It can serve as a very refreshing coffee drink, especially in hot weather.

Hot café de olla can be served with milk as well if you prefer, and the drink is delicious with unflavored cream, which compliments the complexity of the spiced coffee beautifully.

Lastly, an excellent option for preparing café de olla as a dessert beverage or a warm treat after dinner is to add a shot of Kahlua, Patron XO Café Incendio, or other chocolate-flavored liqueur to each cup of café de olla right before serving.

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