14 days, 14 cafes!

This is a pre-scheduled post. We are on our way to Antarctica this week and don’t have internet access! In fact, if our Drake Passage crossing goes (relatively) smoothly, we could be setting foot on Antarctica later this afternoon! If not today, then send happy thoughts to my tummy and hope that we get off the boat, and onto Antarctica tomorrow!

A few days after arriving in Buenos Aires and getting to know our neighbourhood (Palermo Soho), we realized that we live close to dozens, if not hundreds, of cute and funky cafes/cafe-bars/cafe-restaurants/cafe-bar-restaurants. And thus, our “14 days, 14 cafes” project – in which we visit a different cafe (or, more accurately drank a coffee from a different place) every day for 14 days – was born!

Despite having an awesome coffee culture, most of the actual coffee in Buenos Aires leaves something to be desired. In some places, this is because they use low grade coffee beans, in other it is because they let the shot run to long resulting in bitter, watery coffee. In others still, it is just because of the chlorinated water. The issue of coffee in Buenos Aires / coffee in Argentina is hotly debated in the comments over on this post. I urge you to check it out if you are into small time controversy!

Given the generally bad quality of the coffee, I sort of failed at our project. On the last day, we couldn’t stomach another bad coffee, so we went back to Starbucks in the morning. In the spirit of trying something new every day, however, we went for a cupcake at a cute little cupcake shop in the afternoon, and like a rock star, the hubs had a coffee (of which I had a sip), thus completing our project!

At the end of the day, here are our results!

Best coffee: Starbucks (Day 9… okay, and Day 14. And we may have popped in on Day 11. And the hubs may have sunk in extras on Days 6 and 12). Runner up: The Coffee Store (Day 2). Honourable mention: Nuestra Senora del Cafe (Day 5). Pretty OK: Bar 6 (Day 12), Muma’s Cupcakes (Day 14).

Best cool-factor: Bar 6 (Day 12), Nucha (Day 10).

Best for working: Bar 6 (Day 12), Nucha (Day 10), Nuestra Senora del Cafe (Day 5). The hubs likes Starbucks for working, I find it too cold and the seats too hard. I like bBlue (Day 1) for working, so does the hubs, outside of the busy lunch hour.

Best terrace: Monarca Sandwiches (Day 4) and Havanna (Day 13).

Best food: bBlue (Day 1), Bar 6 (Day 12). Both had awesome set lunches at a superb value. And these lunches include a coffee. Then you could sit for hours after lunch and work.

Worst coffee: La Biela (Day 8). Runner up: Hard to say but Nucha (Day 10) and Forneria (Day 11) were both so bad I had to add sugar (and I haven’t added sugar to my coffee since 2004).

Worst for working: Muu Lecheria (Day 3) on a Sunday. Two words: Wild Children. Runners up: Forneria (Day 11) – understandably since this is not really a cafe at all, and Marks (Day 6) – too happening.

If you are into the nitty gritty detail, I discuss each of the cafes (and the coffees) in more detail after the picture. And at the very bottom of the post you will find a map! Because I love maps!

Cafes

  1. bBlue Deli & Nature Bar, Armenia 1692 (at El Salvador), Palermo Soho
    • Set lunch: 50 pesos ($12.50) for Pomelada (pomelo juice), Bruschetta, Teriyaki Chicken, Apple Cumble, and espresso OR 40 pesos ($10) for Pomelada, Bruschetta, Torta (quiche), and espresso. A cafe cortado on its own cost 9 pesos.
    • Rude service. I think we had the rude-est server. The internet seems to agree with me that the girls are generally quite rude.
    • Sharp coffee.
    • Fast internet and a great work environment outside of the busy lunch hours.
    • Would return for the food and to work.
  2. The Coffee Store, Gorriti 4702 (at Malabia), Palermo Soho
    • Cafe con leche (Kenya for me, Colombia for him): 16 pesos ($4) each.
    • Friendly service.
    • Strong, but tasty, coffee.
    • Fast internet, and I’m pretty sure we could have stayed for 3 hours if we wanted.
    • Would return, and probably will since this is almost right outside our door!
  3. Muu Lecheria, Armenia 1810 (at Costa Rica), Palermo Soho
    • Super cappuccino: 18 pesos ($4.50).
    • Friendly, if slow, service in super cute decor!
    • Cappuccino was nice and big (finally), but had chocolate on it. I’m pretty sure it was made out of the crappy beans. So, not great.
    • Fast internet. However there were so many screaming kids here, we couldn’t work.
    • Would not return for a “cafe” atmosphere, but would probably go back to try the burgers, they looked yummy!
  4. Monarca Sandwiches, Malabia 1591 (at Honduras), Palermo Soho
    • Cappuccino: 15 pesos ($3.75).
    • Friendly, if slow, service.
    • Cappuccino was big, served with a dulce de leche mini alfajor, and actually kind of good!
    • Spotty internet, but an otherwise good work environment!
    • Might return for the coffee, not the food.
  5. Nuestra Senora del Cafe, Goritti 4788 (at Armenia), Palermo Soho
    • Americano cortado: 16 pesos ($4).
    • We tried this cafe because of the pictures of colombian coffee on the windows (seriously!)
    • Friendly service.
    • Coffee was pretty strong, and was served traditional cafe style, with a small glass of sin-gas water, a tasty cookie, and pretty art in the foam.
    • Quiet, good music, good height tables, and great work environment if you don’t need wi-fi.
    • Would return.
  6. Marks Deli & Coffee House, El Salvador 4701 (at Armenia), Palermo Soho
    • Americano cortado: 12 pesos ($3). (!!!)
    • We’ve read about this cafe being a “hot spot” on all sorts of blogs, and by the volume in there and the high turnover of tables, I tend to agree!
    • Fine, if not super attentive, service.
    • For the price, I would say it was a good deal. This was our cheapest coffee. It came with a little glass of water, but no cookie.
    • Not a great work environment – we had a shaky table and it was LOUD. Both the music and the people!
    • Probably wouldn’t return for the coffee; the salad bowls, however, look delicious (albeit expensive!)
  7. Cafe Montenegro, Soler at Arevalo, Palermo Hollywood
    • Cafe en jarrito lagrimo: 10 pesos ($2.50). (!!!)
    • We ended up here on a hunt for macarons (the internet told me they had them, they didn’t), however nearby En el nombre de postre did have macarons. And they were delicious!
    • This was the first time we went just to read, rather than to work, so we sat at an outdoor table. Which was nice for a change!
    • Super good prices, but my lagrimo was too milky (even for a lagrimo) and Jon’s cortado was too bitter.
    • I didn’t even go in, so I can’t comment on the work environment. I don’t think they have wi-fi.
    • I wouldn’t go out of my way to go back!
  8. La Biela, Manuel Quintana 600, Recoleta
    • Cafe con leche: 17 pesos ($4.25).
    • We couldn’t do a 14 days 14 cafes project without going to at least one of the famous, old Buenos Aires institutions. So, we took the bus over Recoleta (a good adventure) and sat our butts down on their sprawling patio.
    • Pretty slow service, terrible (terrible) coffee – possibly the worst so far, which is saying a lot!
    • This is a tourist mecca, and while it wasn’t busy while we were there, I don’t think it would be a great work environment.
    • I would return because it’s an institution. I just wouldn’t go near the coffee!
  9. Starbucks, Malabia 1720 (at El Salvador), Palermo Soho
    • Americano cortado: 14.5 pesos ($3.65).
    • I told the hubs that we needed to save our Starbucks day for a day we really needed it. And after yesterday’s terrible coffee at La Biela, and last nights drinks and tacos and today’s heat, I needed some good coffee.
    • Service: Starbucks friendly, but on Argentina time (i.e., much much slower).
    • Work environment: Like any Starbucks anywhere, but a little cold. And with hard seats.
    • I will return. And likely lots when the project is done. Which is too bad – because I like the vibe in the independent places better!
  10. Nucha, Armenia 1540 (at Gorritti), Palermo Soho
    • Cafe cortado en jarrito: 13 pesos ($3.25).
    • This place looks cool when you walk by. Huge windows. High ceilings. Beautiful dessert bar.
    • Server was fine. She ignored us while we sat and worked for 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon, which was great.
    • This coffee was BITTER. It was served with a delicious dulche de leche rolo-type treat and a small glass of water. We also ordered a chocolate square, 21 pesos ($5.25). It was supposed to be crunchy, but was not so much. I wouldn’t get it again.
    • Super cool interior and awesome work environment. Fast internet, and they let us work. Even when it started picking up.
    • Despite the coffee, there was a cool vibe and I’d like to go back and work there. And the afternoon tea looked delicious – so maybe it will be in the cards for us!
  11. Forneria, Malabia 1825 (at Plaza Armenia), Palermo Soho
    • Americano cortado: 13 pesos ($3.25).
    • This place is decidedly not a cafe (it’s a resto/bar). Today was not the best day for me. I was hungry. I was grumpy. It was 4pm so most places weren’t serving real food anymore. And we decided to eat pizza here and have a coffee and call it a day.
    • This was the best service we have received in BsAs to date!
    • This coffee was bad. It was served with a cookie and with water. But I had to add sugar. And it still tasted bad.
    • Since this was more of a restaurant, I wouldn’t recommend coming here to work.
    • The pizza, however, was awesome. So, as a restaurant I give this place a thumbs up. Just don’t drink the coffee!
    • I might go back to eat. There are a ton of other cool places around though, so I’m not sure!
  12. Bar 6, Armenia 1676 (at El Salvador), Palermo Soho
    • Set menu for 57 pesos ($14.25) included: salad, mixed wok, lemonade and Americano cortado. We didn’t check out the cost of the coffee on its own. The lemonade was the most delicious lemonade I’ve ever had.
    • I’ve wanted to come to this place since the very first day (it is right next door to bBlue). From the first time I looked in the windows, I thought it would be cool. And it was!
    • Good service in an awesome atmosphere – though when we arrived a bit to late for lunch time yesterday, the same girl was mean to us. So the service could go either way!
    • The coffee was a pleasant surprise. It wasn’t wonderful, but given the last couple of days, it was actually pretty good.
    • I would absolutely come to this place again. To have coffee. To work. To eat. I loved it.
  13. Havanna, Armenia 1788 (at Costa Rica), Palermo Soho
    • Cafe cortado doble en jarrito: 16.25 pesos($4.05)
    • We figured we might as well try out the other big chain in our neighbourhood before the end of the challenge!
    • Fine service in a small-ish space.
    • Good height tables for working, and a super cool upstairs patio.
    • The coffee was ok. I was expecting worse.
    • I don’t think I would go back, other than maybe for the patio. There are just too many better places to go.
  14. Muma’s Cupcakes, Malabia 1680 (at El Salvador), Palermo Soho
    • Americano cortado: 17 pesos($4.25)
    • As mentioned above, we actually came for the cupcake (Oreo, 16 pesos ($4)) which was delicious. Like a rock star, the hubs actually ordered a coffee so we could complete the challenge.
    • Friendly server.
    • Not a great place for working, but an awesome place to sit, have a rest, and eat a delicious cupcake (don’t order the macarons though, they are decidedly not delcious).
    • The coffee was actually pretty ok!
    • I would totally go back for a cupcake and coffee to share!

And lastly, a map. Because I love maps. There are two things that are immediately obvious from this map. 1) We live in an totally awesome area. 2) We probably could afford to expand our horizons a little bit.

coffeemap

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