Peru is famed for its coffee beans. Fresh coffee in Peru is usually coffee from concentrate, and its crazy good.

My friend Colina and I arrived in Cusco early in the morning with a full day of exploring ahead of us after having stayed up all night in the Lima Airport the night before. We were exhausted and jet lagged and considered taking a nap. But we wanted to make the most of our only full day in Cusco before we hit the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu the following morning.

Luckily our B&B was still serving breakfast and they offered us a full Peruvian coffee and tea.

At first I didn’t know what to do. I don’t generally drink coffee and had never seen a set up in the States quite like what I found before me. But soon figured it out when a friendly Peruvian woman bustled out of the kitchen offering us a small crystal pitcher.

It looked like a vintage vinegar bottle, like the one my great-grandmother used when I was a kid. It was filled with a thick dark liquid.

I took it, picked up a small coffee cup, and motioned to pour.


The woman stopped me and took the cup from my hand. She walked over to a giant silver thermos sitting on a cabinet with the tea and coca leaves. She filled the cup half way with boiling hot water then brought it back to me. Smiling, she motioned me to continue. Eying the ebony-like liquid suspiciously, I resumed pouring.

The coffee exploded into the water.

IMG_2949-ANIMATIONAmber tendrils bloomed outward in an ever expanding cloud that quickly enveloped the entire contents of the cup.

It was beautiful.

And delicious.

I added “crema caliente” and a couple spoonfuls of raw sugar, and sipped it slowly. It was the best cup of coffee I’ve ever tried. And Colina, who is a coffee aficionado, said it was really really good coffee.

It worked perfectly, too; we had a wonderful day exploring the architecture and history of Cusco.

Every time we saw fresh coffee, it was always in this concentrated form. We even had it while backpacking across the Andes! We had a full Peruvian coffee and tea each morning at our tent door before breakfast, then again in the afternoon before dinner.

In addition to fresh coffee from concentrate, we actually noticed a lot of locals drinking Nescafe instant coffee. It’s an interesting phenomena considering how Peruvian coffee is so highly regarded on the world market. Regardless of the Nescafe drinkers, according to TraveltipsPeru fresh coffee brewed in concentrate form is a Peruvian tradition. And as they point out, “making a concentrate produces a fresher tasting cup throughout the day.” To get a little taste of Peru, try this recipe  for coffee concentrate, and lighten it with a little evaporated milk. Enjoy!

Related reading:

Aha! It’s a local Peruvian brew made at altitude

Stay cool like a local while exploring Peru with this delicious fruit drink

29 first impressions of Peru

— Laura Rowley



Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.


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