Best Cafés in Medellín

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You'll love the cappuccino at Café Revolución.
You'll love the cappuccino at Café Revolución.
You’ll love the cappuccino at Café Revolución.

Editor’s note: This post was updated on Tuesday, Feb. 3, to reflect the closing of Java Bean Cafe, one of our original five favorites. 

Maybe they grow the best coffee, but they don’t always drink it.

It’s a peculiar thing about Colombia, something most people would not expect, not when the country is famous for this product. But it’s true.

Colombians so often drink Nescafe, the nasty instant coffee that doesn’t come close to the best farm-grown beans throughout the mountainous regions.

That’s why cafés have not been prevalent in Medellín, not until recently.

There is a trend of them popping up everywhere, likely because of all the foreigners moving to and visiting the city, and that has made our previous coffee shops post obsolete.

To highlight this trend, we at Medellín Living are sharing what we think are the best cafés, what normally would be a Top 5 but has to include an honorable mention section because we couldn’t narrow it down to a quintet.

It was even harder to rank them, so hard, in fact, that we’re doing something different this time: no rankings within the categories of Top 5 and Honorable Mention. We will simply highlight our favorite things about each place.

The criteria to be one of the valley’s best cafés in the first place, although not set in stone, includes value, reliable wi-fi, enough wall outlets for the computer-carrying clientele, comfortable atmosphere, market niche, tasty food and, of course, good coffee.

Here’s what we found…

The Top 5

If you say another place in the city has a better panini, I say you haven't tried Café Revolución.
If you say another place in the city has a better panini, I say you haven’t tried Café Revolución.

Café Revolución: Contemporary Brilliance

Carrera 73, Circular #4-10, Laureles

Cappuccino…check.

Panini…perfect.

That was enough to convince me Café Revolución would make this list, and the art deco atmosphere adds a great touch as well.

The cappuccino, the chocolate sprinkles a great topping, cost 3,500 pesos (about $2). The coffee it’s made from comes from two different farms, both in Antioquia.

The barbecue chicken panini, made exactly the way a toasted, flatbread sandwich should be and the red peppers put it over the top. It costs 8,900 pesos (about $4.50). It makes me want to try the ham and cheese option too.

The place just opened last month, but it’s only a matter of time before people find it.

It’s at a great location, across from Primer Parque Laureles in an area where new businesses are flocking.

This café is as good a place to go as any if you’re passing through the area.

Cariñito is no doubt one of the best cafes in this city.
Cariñito is no doubt one of the best cafes in this city. (Photo: David Lee)

Cariñito: Posh and Stylish

Carrera 44 #20-55, Ciudad del Río

Ciudad del Rio might be the best part of Poblado, so it’s no wonder an upscale café like Cariñito would find its way here.

I love everything about this café, from coffee and hot chocolate, to the fancy sandwiches — they have turkey! — to the colorful interior and decor. The seats in the shape of open suitcases are a nice touch.

I haven’t tried their pastries yet, but I plan to. There is such a great variety, I might not be able to stop.

I’m a little jealous of anyone who lives nearby.

Café Zeppelin (photo: David Lee)
Café Zeppelin (photo: David Lee)

Café Zeppelin: Ultimate Ambience

Transversal 39 #76-12, Laureles

Café Zeppelin offers what is easily my favorite ambience among all the cafes in the city.

The place is full of antiques, from typewriters to medieval furniture, and I love the fish tank made from a television that never met a remote control.

The coffee is good too, the product of a farm in Antioquia, and I like the combo of a tinto (black coffee) with a brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, all for only 5,500 pesos ($3).

If I want lunch, I’ll have the smoked salmon sandwich, which comes with chips, for 16,000 pesos (about $8.50).

But it’s the interior design that seems to draw people. Even at night, the place is busy.

Daniel, the German owner, really has a good thing going and I hope his success continues.

The outdoor garden feel, neighboring museum and delicious menu items make El Café de Otra Parte my favorite.
The outdoor garden feel, neighboring museum and delicious menu items make El Café de Otraparte one of my favorites.

El Café de Otraparte: From Coffee to Culture

Calle 27 Sur #43A-61, Envigado

No café means more to its community than El Café de Otraparte.

The place is connected to the Casa Museo Fernando González, a museum that was once the home of the Envigado-born writer and philosopher.

It is just part of the cultural initiative of the Corporación Otraparte is committed to in the city.

On that block the corporation is building a big cultural center, a place where Envigado residents and visitors can learn more about art and history in their city.

Oh, and did I mention that café has fresh coffee, great food and the setting of a botanical garden? Well I just did.

You should see it for yourself. You’ll feel doubly good when you leave, knowing you had a great experience and part of the money you spent is being used to promote the history and culture of one of the best places to live in the valley.

Escargot is one of my favorite appetizers.
Escargot is one of my favorite appetizers.

Ganso y Castor: French Flavor

Carrera 36 #7-46 (Via Provenza), Poblado

People talk about the romance of France, how the country’s culture seduces you.

I’ve never been, but I feel like Ganso y Castor is a good glimpse of what I someday hope to experience.

Andrea, the Colombian owner and head chef, offers French classics such as escargot, steak tartare and crème brûlée. I had one of the restaurant’s special juice blends, mango and lulo, with my food.

She spent a year in France in the early part of last decade, followed by more than seven years of culinary and hospitality training, and then she got the idea to bring the flavor of the place to Medellín.

Definitely one of my favorite places in Colombia.

Honorable Mention

I go to Café Velvet for the hot chocolate.
I go to Café Velvet for the hot chocolate.

Café Velvet: Belgian Flavor

Carrera 37 #8A-46, Poblado

The hot chocolate is the best item on the menu at Café Velvet.

They have a handful of different kinds, but I ordered the basic one on the recommendation of a friend. I had to stir it to melt the thick pieces of chocolate already in what looked like hot and steamed milk, and this is now my go-to place for this drink.

The coffee is good too, but thanks to the Belgian owners, I’ll stick to the chocolate beverages.

 

The malteada café at El Farolito will give you a sweet caffeine boost.
The malteada café at El Farolito will give you a sweet caffeine boost.

El Farolito: The Uni Café

Circular 1 #70-36, Laureles

El Farolito is a tiny spot in a great location…across the street from Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, one of the city’s best universities.

It’s a hub for students looking for an escape from campus for a bit, without getting too far away.

When they’re there, they can choose from a variety of treats, such as sandwiches or pastries, but their coffee drinks are the best items on the menu.

I had the malteada café, a mix of espresso and ice cream. It was pretty good.

Welcome to one of Medellín's most popular cafes...Pergamino.
Welcome to one of Medellín’s most popular cafés…Pergamino.

Pergamino: A Family Affair

Carrera 37 #8A-37 (Via Primavera), Poblado

The Pergamino story is pretty well-known: two brothers, sons of coffee farm owners, noticed a market inefficiency. Outside of Juan Valdez, there were no real cafes in Medellín.

Thus Pergamino was born, and it has become one of the most popular places to enjoy coffee and desserts.

Thanks to word of mouth and publicity in the story I linked to above, I don’t need to say much more.

What’s your favorite café in the Medellín valley?

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LEAVE A REPLY

8 COMMENTS

  1. Somewhat related… Any suggestions on the best place to buy a large amount of coffee? Heading back to the US for a few weeks and would like to bring coffee for friends and family.

    • And that was on purpose. I wrote about Café Vallejo previously, but I think it falls short in the food department.

      About the only thing I could get there was a piece of Milo cake, whereas the cafes on this list offer a more substantial menu of pastries and desserts, and in many cases go a step further with sandwiches, salads and options that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

  2. Honestly anybody that knows this city knows Pergamino has the best coffee. Also I find advice on here is a totally biased, skewed and unreliable source of information. [redacted]

    I find it insulting that many places ”worthy of mentioning” are not on here purely because they haven’t bent over and given free stuff to the blogger. Where as it should based on the quality of their products and service, which should be the main reason for receiving this highest of accolades.

    Use this site as a very simplistic corrupt set of self promoting guidelines, which can be bought at any price. Very much like the Catholic church.

    • Hi Pete,

      We appreciate your feedback. This blog is a two-way street. Our posts are not intended to be the final word on any subject. We prefer to look at them as a way to start a dialogue with our readers.

      I’d love to hear which cafés you feel deserve a mention. We normally update these kinds of posts once a year, and always take into account reader feedback.

      I review and discuss every article Ryan (and every contributor) writes before it’s published, and while we don’t always agree, on the whole we tend to be on the same page. And I do not hesitate to question something if it doesn’t seem right.

      Please note we didn’t try and rank the cafés in any specific order. Instead, we highlighted what we like about each of them.

      You’re right, everybody knows Pergamino is awesome. So what’s the problem in giving some exposure to some of the newer, smaller cafés that are not in a dominant position?

      We’re trying to help people discover the city by learning about new places, and giving them options.

      Pergamino, by the nature of its prime location in the center of the Zona Rosa, is VERY well known. An extra mention on this blog won’t make much difference, but it could benefit a café owner just starting out.

      I didn’t know about Café Zeppelin until last month, which is crazy because I think it’s a wonderful space with a great menu. Now I can’t tell enough people about it.

      The whole schtick about receiving this or that for free in exchange for positive coverage is an easy thing to level. I’m not going to get into that here, but I will say you don’t build a positive reputation and a popular blog over five years without integrity to back it up.

      If you’d like to discuss our editorial policy further, my email is dave@medellinliving.com

      Dave
      Editor-in-Chief