Café de Olla is a traditional Mexican coffee spiced with cinnamon, cloves, star anise and sweetened with piloncillo. Made in a Mexican olla de barro, or clay pot, this drink is delicious served as is or with a splash of milk in the morning!
There’s nothing more relaxing than having a cup of café de olla and a concha (Mexican sweet bread) in the morning! It warms me up from the inside out and feels like a big hug from my family.
I especially love drinking the coffee in these cute little jarritos de barro, or Mexican clay mugs. The ones you see in the photos are actually my sister’s! She’s had them for as long as I can remember, and they’re still in the family.
What is Café de Olla?
Café de olla is a traditional Mexican coffee sweetened with piloncillo and spiced with cinnamon, cloves and star anise. It’s brewed in an olla de barro, or Mexican clay pot, that gives the coffee a unique earthy flavor. It’s traditionally used for cooking beans, soups and stews, and drinks like this coffee!
Café de olla literally translates to ‘coffee from a pot‘ in English.
You can find an olla de barro at most Mexican grocery stores and specialty shops in the U.S. nowadays along with other traditional Mexican housewares. If you can’t find any locally, you can also get them online here.
If you don’t have an olla de barro and would still love to make this recipe, you can! Instead of an olla, you can use any medium pot or saucepan instead.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Water – A crucial ingredient in making coffee! You’ll need 6 cups.
- Ground Coffee – A freshly ground dark roast coffee works best in this recipe, but you can use any ground coffee that you have on hand.
- Piloncillo – This dark Mexican cane sugar is used to sweeten the coffee and gives it a unique, almost molasses-like flavor.
- Cinnamon Sticks – I highly recommend using Mexican cinnamon sticks (or canela) in this recipe as it gives it a delicious soft and smooth cinnamon flavor. Mexican cinnamon sticks are often larger and flakier than the typical cinnamon sticks you find in many stores. You can get them at most Mexican grocery stores, but if you can’t find them locally, you can get them online here.
- Whole Cloves – Just two little cloves is all you need to give the café a touch of warming spice that leaves you feeling all cozy inside.
- Star Anise – Just add one little star anise pod to give the coffee a small hint of sweetness that compliments the cinnamon and cloves so well. You can get star anise at most Mexican grocery stores, but if you can’t find them locally, you can get them online here.
Don’t have some of these ingredients in your kitchen? See below for substitutions.
How to Make Café de Olla
- Heat: Add water, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and star anise to an olla de barro or medium pot. Place over med-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally so that the piloncillo fully dissolves.
- Steep: Remove the olla or pot from the heat and add the coffee. Give it a stir, cover, and let it steep for 6-8 minutes.
- Strain: Pour the coffee through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and serve!
Can’t find all the ingredients in this recipe? Here are some substitutions that may be helpful:
- Instead of piloncillo, you can use 1/2 cup dark brown sugar.
- Don’t have Mexican cinnamon sticks? You can use regular cinnamon sticks instead.
- Don’t have star anise? You can leave it out completely. It adds an amazing flavor to the coffee, but it’s okay if you don’t use it.
Tips and Tricks
- For regular-strength café de olla, let the coffee steep for 6 minutes.
- For extra-strength café de olla, let the coffee steep for 8 minutes.
- Have leftovers? Turn them into iced Mexican coffee! Simply transfer the strained coffee to an airtight jar and let it chill in the fridge. When you’re ready for a drink, serve the coffee over ice!