She Made/Ella Hace: Café de Olla

Café de Olla is a delicious and fragrant Mexican coffee brewed with aromatic spices like cinnamon, clove, and star anise.

Mexican Café de Olla -

I'm baaaaccckkk! And... I'm not alone. My friend Heather (from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen) and I are teaming up once again to bring back She Made/Ella Hace. To kick things off, we are celebrating Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead). Whether you're looking for something sweet and delicious to serve for your Day of the Dead celebration, or if you're looking for traditional food ofrendas (offerings) for your altar de muertos (altar), we've got you covered. Heather is making Camotes Enmielados (Mexican Candied Sweet Potatoes), while I am serving steaming mugs of classic Café de Olla (Mexican coffee).

Café de Olla is my go-to beverage of choice for celebrating Día de Muertos for several reasons. First of all, it will help warm you up while keeping vigil all night at el panteón (the cemetery). Two, café de olla is great for dipping pieces of Pan de Muerto (Day of the Dead Bread). (The orange flavor of the pan de muerto complements the cinnamon and spices of the café de olla.) Three, the intense aroma of the café de olla--along with the scent of the vibrant flores de cempaxúchitl (marigolds)--is perfect for helping the souls of our dearly departed find their way to their altar. And four, the flavor is a delightful combination of spices that awakens your taste buds.

I grew up drinking Café de Olla. My grandparents made it often and their recipe was simply made with coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo. Over the years, I've added a few spices like star anise and cloves to intensify the flavors of the coffee and cinnamon. Café de Olla is also a very popular drink to serve at novenarios (a 9-day rosary hosted after the passing of a loved one). I was in charge of making HUGE pots of teas and café de olla for my father-in-law's novenario, and the Café de Olla was always a crowd pleaser.

Because this recipe for Café de Olla yields quite a few cups, it would be perfect to whip up at holiday celebrations like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.

Café de Olla recipe -

Classic Café de Olla

  • 10 cups water 
  • 1/3 cup ground coffee granules 
  • 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks 
  • 2 whole star anise 
  • 8 cloves 
  • 1 piloncillo cone 
  • Granulated sugar (optional) 

Bring water to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan over high heat. Add ground coffee granules, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, and piloncillo. Cover saucepan and reduce heat to low. Let coffee simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until piloncillo cone has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and keep covered. Let coffee steep for at least 30 minutes. Reheat coffee, if necessary. Strain into coffee mugs. Sweeten with granulated sugar, if desired. Enjoy!

*Tip: Café de Olla is traditionally served black, but you can add a splash of milk, coffee creamer, coffee liqueur or even Bailey's Irish Cream, if desired.

Receta en español 

Don't forget to visit Heather's blog All Roads Lead to the Kitchen to check out her Camotes Enmielados (Mexican Candied Sweet Potatoes).

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