Café de olla, a traditional Mexican drink made of coffee, piloncillo sugar, and spices, is enjoyed for its warm, yet bitter, taste. Find out how to make it with our easy recipe.
The Mexican authentic 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.
What is Café de Olla?
Café de olla is a Mexican traditional beverage made of ground coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo. The recipe takes its name to the utensil where it is prepared, a clay pot (olla de barro, in Spanish).
This particular utensil is supposed to keep the drink hot for many hours and infuse the drink with an earthy flavor.
As it’s believed, this Mexican coffee beverage was invented during the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century for the Adelitas (woman soldiers) by adding cinnamon and ground coffee in a clay pot to brew and enjoy a hot drink during the cold nights in the war camps.
Today, the recipe has some variants where other spices are added such as star anise, whole cloves, orange peel, and chocolate among others.
What is special about Mexican coffee?
For many Mexicans, the smell of cafe de olla, recalls Christmas as a family, Las Posadas, Candelaria Day, everyday breakfast, mid-afternoon snacks (merienda), and even funerals.
And in many households, this comforting and hearty drink is always there, sitting on the stove at home, ready for anyone who wants to enjoy it at any time of the day.
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.
- 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 dark 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. You can use any type if you can’t find Mexican cinnamon, even ground cinnamon.
- 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 Kahlúa!
How To Make Café de Olla
Place the water in a medium saucepan or pot, you can use any kind of pot you have at home, just make sure is big enough to hold about 8 cups of liquid.
Add the piloncillo (or cane sugar, molasses), the cinnamon sticks, anise star, and the whole cloves. Stir well.
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 coffee steep for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how strong you would like it.
Pour through a strainer or cheesecloth to serve into mugs. Or keep it warm and serve later.
Recipe Notes and Tips
How Is Coffee Served In Mexico?
Authentic Mexican Cafe de olla can be served with any savory Mexican breakfast, tamales, or pan dulce. Those below are our favorite recipes to serve alongside this hot drink for breakfast or merienda.
Make Ahead And Store
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!
Leftovers can also be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days and enjoy as iced coffee with whipped cream!
Authentic Café de Olla Recipe
- 8 Tbs ground coffee
- 5 ½ oz piloncillo (or molasses, or brown sugar)
- 8 ¼ cups water
- 2 small sticks of cinnamon
- 2 anise star
- 2 whole cloves
- Place the water on a medium pot.
- Add the piloncillo (or sugar), cinnamon, anise star, and whole cloves.
- Bring the water to a boil and then turn the heat to medium-low.
- Let the water with the ingredients simmer for about 5 minutes while stirring from time to time to allow the piloncillo to dissolve and the spices to release their aroma.
- Add the ground coffee and stir well. Cover the pot and immediately turn off the heat.
- Let everything infuse for 5 to 10 minutes, depends how strong you’d like your coffee.
- Pour through a fine strainer or cheesecloth to serve into mugs and enjoy.
- 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 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 make it easy to cut.
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How do you drink coffee in Mexico?
In the morning for breakfast along with eggs, pastries, or any traditional breakfast. In the afternoon with tamales, and also as a social drink in gatherings.
How many calories are in a Mexican coffee?
Our recipe contains 58kcal per cup.
What does cafe de olla taste like?
Mexican clay pot coffee has a sweet-bitter taste with hints of spices like cinnamon, cloves, and anise star. A mix of earthy flavors and a wonderful scent.
Is this recipe healthy?
Consumed in moderation, Mexican coffee bring also health benefits like less risk of cardiovascular diseases from coffee, calcium and magnesium from cinnamon, and other benefits from spices. Related: Is Coffee Good For You? – University Of Harvard
What does cafe de olla mean in English?
In English, cafe de olla means “pot coffee” or “coffee from a clay pot”. And it refers to the pot where it is made.
How do you pronounce olla?
oh. – yah. Check out here to hear the pronunciation in Spanish and Latin American accents.
Hope you enjoyed this recipe! Here are other Mexican drinks that you might like to try: