AM visits Mexico City

01. Quentin Café

I recently spent nine days in Mexico City with both my wife and daughter. It was an great trip that resulted in us falling in love with the city. 

We were both there for work related projects but we also did typical tourists activities like visiting both the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo's museums. We climbed the Teotihuacan pyramids and toured centuries old, gold plated churches. And daily, we ate some of the best food around from both restaurants and local street vendors. 

But the best part of the trip? You guessed it, the coffee. I was on a mission to explore the Mexico City coffee scene and thankfully, I found it. 

Right before leaving for Mexico I reached out to fellow instagrammer, Menachem Gancz. We have been following each other for a while but had never spoke/met. But I knew from his photos that he was passionate about and somehow involved in coffee, but I wasn't sure to what capacity. He replied and let me know that he had just - weeks earlier - opened up his own coffee shop, Quentin Café in the Roma Norte district.  Which was only about a mile away our hotel. Nice. 

I visited his shop the day after our arrival and brought little miss Paloma along with me since she's my #coffeepartna4life. (hashtag in a blog. what?) But that was especially true during our time in Mexico since my wife was off working on her project for UCLA. Read more about that here.

Menachem was such a gracious host to both Paloma and I. It probably helped that he also has children...

While talking over coffee, our conversation veered quickly to the interconnected world that is: Coffee + Instagram. And how crazy it is that an app on our phone brought us together from two different countries. And how, for both of us, Instagram has lead to actual community and friendships. So strange. 

Quentin Café sort of became my north star during our trip. I stopped by a few more times  while heading to other coffee shops. And every time it was 1. Good coffee 2. Good people.  

02. Almanegra Cafê

While visiting with Menachem, he offered to walk me over to Almanegra Café just a few blocks over.

There I met baristas, Humberto and Dylan. Very cool dudes. Humberto, a fellow photographer, rocked out a pour over for us with a Rwandan Kanzu from Huckleberry Roasters. Very nice. 

I loved the color tones and vibe of their shop. It also loved that it felt almost hidden since you had to walk down a cool hall way to get to an open space where they were located. 

03. Cardinal - Casa de Café

My time at both Quentin and Almanegra proved that the coffee scene in CDMX was on point. So I was really excited to see what else I could find. So the following day - and again, from a recommendation from Menachem - I visited Cardinal.

After the first day, I had decided to walk as often as possible - only taking an Uber when needed - so that I could freely explore the city. As well as shot street portraits along the way. See some here. 

I was pushing Paloma in her stroller on our walk to Cardinal from our hotel - stopping frequently to take photos - so she was a bit tired by the time we arrived. Uh oh! 

I ordered a macchiato and started to speak with the baristas. One of them spoke English and I showed them my Instagram so they could see the images I had already posted from both Quentin and Almanegra

They seemed to be down for me to shoot so that was cool. But little miss Paloma had other plans. I think by now she was just done! Done with sitting a stroller. Done with kickin' it at coffee shops and done not doing her favorite thing: playing. And she started to let me know...

So I had to put my photo game on hold and run around outside with her. Because she deserved it. This nineteen month old toddler had been so patient as we walked miles per day exploring Mexico City - for my pursuits.

It's that freakin' balance that I'm still trying to figure out. Because even though I love working on Americano Mondays, being a dad is far more fulfilling that any photo shoot. Ever.

Fast forward a bit and I was finally able to grab my camera to capture some photos. Just as I started, the three owners walked in. And they couldn't have been nicer guys. 

I showed them my images so they could see why this American dude with a baby in tow was taking photos in their shop - and they were totally down. And then - rather quickly before Paloma had another mini meltdown - we capturing some beautiful images that Im very proud of. Boom! 

Shak Zapata, Alex Martinez and Paul Torres, Owners of Cardinal

Shak Zapata, Alex Martinez and Paul Torres, Owners of Cardinal

04. Dosis Café

Dosis was one of the larger coffee shop that I visited in Mexico. If you would have told me that I was back home in LA - I would have believed you. It's crazy how similar it felt to some coffee shops I visit daily. 

Both of the baristas behind the bar were very chill and down to be photographed. Jair, even made me an additional pour over to sample after I had finished my espresso based drink. I didn't catch the roaster but it was nice! 

05. Buna 

My wife's project was wrapped by now so our last few days in Mexico were spent together exploring the pyramids, restaurants, museums and of course coffee shops. But that also meant that unlike the first half of our trip where it was primarily just my daughter and I, I now had someone closer to my age to negotiate with on where to go. 

Thankfully, my wife fully supports my coffee habit and this project. I mean, come on, we are the couple that was married in a coffee shop. 

We stopped by Buna after a long day so unfortunately we didn't stay long. But I had wanted to visit since the photo's I had seen online were beautiful. As well as, they were the only shop in Mexico City that I came across that utilized the Modbar over a standard espresso machine.

Neither the barista or waitress spoke english. So I had my wife do some of the translating since she is fluent in Spanish. But after I started taking photos I realized pretty quick that I wasn't going to be getting any award winning close up portraits. Not in a bad way was actually very funny.

Because every time I aimed my camera in the direction of the barista behind the counter - no matter what she was doing - she would immediately freeze and look right in camera. I was laughing so hard. And it happened over and over....let's just say I decided to stay back a bit and grab a couple of wide angle shots instead. 

06. Avellaneda Café

I visited Avellaneda Cafe on our second to last day in Mexico. It was a long day of lines at museums, both the Diego Rivera Museum and the Frida Kahlo house/museum. And don't forget, we had our amazingly patient toddler of a daughter with us. Who, at this point was rightfully so, starting to become a bit more vocal about her 'toddlerhood' ways. 

And let's get real, she was the most honest one there. After standing in the craziest lines at the Frida Kahlo house - to the point where you could barely see the art on the walls - I was a bit jealous of Paloma and her little outburst since we as adults have learned how to hold them in. Ha. 

After we left the Frida Kahlo house/museum, my wife and a few of her friends wanted to go shopping. Seeing as I was the only guy there - and had no interest in joining - I quickly planned my escape. 

After parting ways, I made the walk to Avellaneda Cafe for my final visit to a coffee shop in Mexico City. And it was the perfect send off. I mean...look at that freakin' presentation. Amazing. 

None of the gentlemen behind the bar spoke English so it was a challenge to explain what Americano Mondays was but thankfully, Patricio, who was sitting beside me understood and helped translate. And then ended being a cool guy to talk to about cycling and coffee. Thanks man! 

Due to it being a national holiday the day I visited, it was non stop while I was at Avellaneda Cafe. So unfortunately, that meant that I wasn't able to capture any portraits beyond the images you see below. But I still had an amazing time there. 

I am beyond grateful to everyone that I met and photographed in Mexico City. 

And thank you to my Fujifilm Camera's for rocking it during my time there. These guys did not disappoint. And now I want to take them on more adventures.