Café De Olla (Mexican clay pot coffee)

Café de Olla, a sweet, steaming, and aromatic Mexican drink that brings friends and family together around a table. And it takes only 15 minutes to make!

This Mexican clay pot coffee is hot and delicious, perfect to warm up our bellies and hands when you hold the jarrito where it is served.

Two clay mugs with steamy café de olla, aka Mexican clay pot coffee.

What is Cafe de Olla?

The café de olla owes its name to the utensil where it is prepared, that is, in a clay pot (olla de barro, in Spanish). The traditional recipe calls for only ground coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo but nowadays is also made with extra ingredients to enrich the flavor.

This hot drink was born with the arrival of coffee in Mexico, back in the 18th century, and today it has some variants where other spices are added such as star anise, whole cloves, orange peel, and chocolate among others.

The recipe is pretty simple and easy to make. It takes only 15 minutes from start to finish and you’ll be glad you make it because is really delicious, aromatic, and perfect to start your mornings.

A touch of Mexico

The smell of cafe de olla, for us Mexicans, recalls Christmas as a family, Las Posadas, Candelaria Day, everyday’s breakfast, mid-afternoon snacks (merienda), and even funerals.

We serve this clay pot coffee in the mornings, freshly made, for breakfast with our family. But actually, café de olla is always there, sitting on the stove at home, ready for anyone who wants to enjoy it at any time of the day.

A closeup on café de olla, aka clay pot coffee.

My grandma Julia always had a huge pot with this beverage on the fogón (open fire) to keep it hot, so the family will enjoy it any time they wanted.

And I remember, when someone will visit us, the first thing she always asked was: ¿Quiere un cafecito? – would you like some coffee?

The Ingredients and Substitutes

  • COFFEE: The best options would be Mexican coffee from some of the States where is produced, such as Veracruz, Oaxaca, Tabasco, etc. But actually any ground coffee should work just fine, even instant coffee!
  • SWEETENER: Traditionally, this delicious drink is sweetened with piloncillo, but sometimes is just not possible to find it everywhere. So, you can replace it with molasses or brown sugar, even though the first option is by far better.
  • SPICES: Cinnamon is something it shouldn’t be missed in the recipe, that’s the only ingredient I recommend not replacing it. You can use any type if you can’t find Mexican cinnamon, even ground cinnamon! From there, as our recipe calls some optionals, you could also add star anise, whole cloves or also orange peel.
  • EXTRAS: If you want to take your Mexican coffee to the next level add some cacao powder to the mix, it’s truly delicious! Want more? add a splash of Kahlua and…Enjoy!
Two cones of Mexican piloncillo placed on a small basket.

Step By Step Recipe

Place the water on a pot, you can use any kind of pot you have at home, just make sure is big enough to hold about 8 cups of water.

Add the piloncillo (or molasses), the cinnamon, anise star, and the whole cloves. Stir well.

Adding water, piloncillo and spices to the pot. Then, stirring to dissolve piloncillo.

Bring the water to a boil and then let it simmer for about 5 minutes while stirring to allow the piloncillo to dissolve and the spices to release their aroma.

Add the coffee and stir well. Cover the pot and immediately turn off the heat. Let the café de olla steep from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how strong you would like it.

Adding ground coffee, then covering the pot.

Pour through a strainer to serve into mugs. Or keep it warm and serve later.

Straining the café de olla into mugs.

Recipe Notes

  • Turn the leftovers into iced coffee. Place them into a jar and store them in the fridge to serve with ice whenever you want.
  • I really don’t recommend adding milk or cream to this hot drink, believe me, it kinda ruins the taste and aroma.
  • Add cacao powder to the mug, give it a good mix and enjoy! You’re welcome.
  • To easily cut the piloncillo, pop it into the microwave for a few seconds, this will soften it and make it easy to cut. Or you can also use a cheese grater.

Serve With

Cafe de olla goes perfectly with any Mexican breakfast, tamales, or pan dulce. Those below are our favorite recipes to serve alongside this hot drink for breakfast or merienda.

Making Ahead

Everybody knows that freshly made coffee is best, but, if you want to serve this beverage for a party or gathering, you can do it. My suggestion is to make it a few hours before your guests arrive, just as Ponche Navideño.

As for reheating, I love to use my CrockPot for hot drinks like this one. The pot can keep the drink warm for hours without worrying to reheat it. Besides, your house will smell heavenly!

Watch How To Make Mexican Coffee

Want to know more about coffee? – Read the following article about the History of Coffee and get to know where it comes from.

Café de Olla Recipe

Make an authentic delicious and aromatic Café de Olla (Mexican clay pot coffee) and warm up your souls and bellies!
PREP 5 minutes
COOK 10 minutes
TOTAL 15 minutes
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 10
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 8 Tbs ground coffee
  • 5 ½ oz piloncillo (or molasses, to taste)
  • 8 ¼ cups water
  • 2 small sticks of cinnamon
  • 2 anise star
  • 2 whole cloves

Instructions

  • Place the water on a pot, you can use any kid of pot you have available, just make sure is big enough to hold about 8 cups of water.
  • Add the piloncillo (or molasses), the cinnamon, anise star and the whole cloves. Stir.
  • Bring the water to a boil and then let it simmer for about 5 minutes while stirring to allow the piloncillo to dissolve and the spices to release their aroma.
  • Add the coffee and stir well. Cover the pot and immediately turn off the stove.
  • Let everything to infuse from 5 to 10 minutes, depends how strong you’d like your coffee.
  • Pour through a strainer to serve into mugs.

NOTES

  • Turn the leftovers into iced coffee. Place them into a jar and store in the fridge to serve with ice whenever you want.
  • I really don’t recommend adding milk or cream to Café de Olla, believe me, it kinda ruins the taste and aroma.
  • Add cacao powder to the mug, give it a good mix and enjoy! You’re welcome.
  • To easily cut the piloncillo, pop it into the microwave for a few seconds, this will soften it and making it easy so cut.
Nutrition
Calories: 58kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 6mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg
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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    What a lovely post and recipe for café de olla. I am nostalgic now, so I’ll go to make some :)