Mexican Coffee

Mexican Coffee, or “Café de Olla,” is a traditional Mexican drink known for its rich, aromatic flavors, often featuring cinnamon and piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar). Here’s an extensive recipe that will guide you through making this delightful beverage, along with tips and variations to enhance your experience.

Mexican Coffee (Café de Olla) Recipe


For the Coffee

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup ground coffee (preferably dark roast)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about 3 inches long)
  • 1/4 cup piloncillo (or dark brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 2-3 cloves, 1 star anise

For Serving

  • Whipped cream
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Cocoa powder (optional)
  • Orange zest (optional)
  • Mexican chocolate (for garnish or to melt in the coffee)


  • Large saucepan or traditional Mexican clay pot (olla de barro)
  • Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Serving mugs



Step 1: Preparing the Ingredients

  1. Measure Ingredients:
    • Measure out 4 cups of water and pour it into your saucepan or clay pot.
    • Measure out 1 cup of ground coffee. Use a coarse grind if you are brewing in a pot.
  2. Prepare the Cinnamon and Sweetener:
    • Break the cinnamon stick into smaller pieces to help release more flavor.
    • If using piloncillo, grate or chop it into smaller pieces to help it dissolve faster. If unavailable, dark brown sugar can be used as a substitute.

Step 2: Brewing the Coffee

  1. Heat the Water:
    • Place the saucepan or pot over medium heat and bring the water to a simmer.
  2. Add Flavorings:
    • Once the water is simmering, add the cinnamon stick pieces, piloncillo (or brown sugar), and any optional spices like cloves or star anise.
    • Stir occasionally until the piloncillo or sugar is fully dissolved.
  3. Add Coffee Grounds:
    • Once the water is infused with the spices and sweetener, add the ground coffee.
    • Stir well to ensure the coffee grounds are fully submerged.
  4. Simmer the Mixture:
    • Reduce the heat to low and let the coffee mixture simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Do not let it boil, as this can make the coffee bitter.
    • Stir occasionally to prevent the ground from sticking to the bottom.
  5. Remove from Heat:
    • After simmering, remove the pot from heat and let it sit for a couple of minutes to allow the flavors to meld further.

Step 3: Straining and Serving

  1. Strain the Coffee:
    • Using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, strain the coffee into another pot or directly into serving mugs to remove the coffee grounds and spices.
  2. Serve Hot:
    • Pour the strained coffee into mugs.
    • Add a splash of vanilla extract to each mug for an extra layer of flavor.
  3. Garnish (Optional):
    • Top with whipped cream.
    • Sprinkle with ground cinnamon or cocoa powder.
    • Add a touch of orange zest for a citrusy note.
    • Garnish with a piece of Mexican chocolate on the side or melt a piece into the coffee for added richness.

Tips for the Best Mexican Coffee

  1. Use Fresh, High-Quality Coffee:
    • For the best flavor, use freshly ground coffee beans. Dark roast is traditionally used, but you can experiment with medium roast if preferred.
  2. Adjust Sweetness:
    • Adjust the amount of piloncillo or brown sugar according to your taste. Some prefer their Mexican coffee sweeter, while others like a more balanced flavor.
  3. Experiment with Spices:
    • While cinnamon is the primary spice, feel free to experiment with cloves, star anise, or even a pinch of nutmeg to customize the flavor profile.
  4. Use a Traditional Clay Pot:
    • If available, use a traditional Mexican clay pot (olla de barro). The porous material enhances the flavor and gives the coffee an authentic taste.
  5. Serving Suggestions:
    • Mexican coffee pairs well with traditional Mexican pastries like churros or pan dulce. Serve alongside these treats for an authentic experience.


  1. Iced Mexican Coffee:
    • Brew the coffee as directed, then let it cool. Serve over ice for a refreshing version of this traditional drink. Add a splash of milk or cream for a creamy iced coffee.
  2. Spiked Mexican Coffee:
    • For an adult version, add a shot of tequila, Kahlúa, or rum to each mug before serving. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  3. Mexican Mocha:
    • Melt a piece of Mexican chocolate into the coffee while it’s still hot. Stir until fully dissolved. This adds a rich, chocolaty dimension to the drink.
  4. Dairy-Free Option:
    • Substitute whipped cream with coconut cream and use a dairy-free sweetener if preferred. The coconut cream adds a subtle tropical flavor that complements the spices well.
  5. Vegan Option:
    • Ensure all ingredients are vegan, such as using a plant-based sweetener instead of piloncillo and coconut whipped cream for garnish.


 What is piloncillo, and can I substitute it?

A: Piloncillo is unrefined cane sugar, commonly used in Mexican cooking. It has a deep, rich flavor similar to molasses. If unavailable, dark brown sugar is a suitable substitute.

Can I make this coffee in a coffee maker? A: While traditional methods are preferred, you can adapt the recipe for a coffee maker. Brew the coffee as usual and then combine it with the spiced sugar mixture on the stove.

 How do I store leftovers?

A: Store any leftover coffee in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave, and strain again if necessary.

Is Mexican coffee very sweet?

A: The sweetness can be adjusted to your preference. The recipe provides a balanced sweetness, but feel free to add more or less sugar according to your taste.

Can I use decaf coffee?

A: Yes, you can use decaf coffee if you prefer. The method and ingredients remain the same.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)

  • Calories: 80
  • Carbohydrates: 18g
  • Sugars: 17g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Fiber: 1g


Mexican Coffee, or Café de Olla, is a wonderful way to enjoy a rich, spiced coffee experience. With its blend of dark roast coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo, this traditional drink offers a unique taste of Mexican culture. Whether you enjoy it hot, iced, or with a splash of your favorite spirit, this recipe is versatile and customizable to suit your preferences.

Taking the time to brew this coffee using traditional methods not only enhances the flavor but also connects you with the rich culinary heritage of Mexico. Serve it to guests for a special treat, or enjoy it as a comforting beverage on a cozy morning.

By following this detailed recipe, you’ll be able to create an authentic and delicious Mexican Coffee that will become a favorite in your home. Enjoy the warmth and depth of flavors with each sip, and don’t forget to experiment with different variations to find your perfect cup of Café de Olla.

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