When Café met Mezcal in Oaxaca
by Doris Garrido
They say that in Oaxaca the mezcal is taken with coffee!
-Lila Downs – Mexican singer
Mezcal is an agave-based distilled drink from Oaxaca, as well as other states in México. I’ve found many stories about how mezcal was born but for this article, I am going to talk about the one that I truly believe in, having grown up in southern México. According to one legend, mezcal was born after a big bolt of thunder hit an agave field and created the first tatema (roasted agave plant). In other words, it is a gift from the sky sent to the earth for humans to enjoy. It’s another reason why sometimes mezcal is called “blessed water from the gods” (most likely from Tlaloc, the Aztec god of the rain).
More recently, in the mountains of Oaxaca, México, people began mixing this water from the gods (mezcal) with coffee, a great gift from Africa. There are some drinks I have found lately made with these two, from a cold cocktail made with an espresso shot, to a mix mezcal with café de olla that can warm even the coldest heart I know.
But there is no need to be in the mountains of Oaxaca to try one of these drinks. I have had the pleasure of trying a delicious cup of coffee from the hands of Miguelito Martinez co-founder of Panamericano coffee, who preserves his family recipe of café de olla with Oaxacan and Peruvian blend of coffees that enhances the orange zest notes I remember from my grandmother’s kitchen. Mixing it with mezcal makes the best drink for winter holiday celebrations. Miguel is going to serving this drink locally in Oakland pretty soon, but in the meantime if you want to prepare your own café de olla check out this delightful article from my beautiful boss Sandra Loofbourow and add 2 ounces of your favorite mezcal. For this occaision I have asked my friend Erick Colunga, a famous cantinero from Oakland’s beloved MUA to create a cocktail using Sandra’s recipe but with a little twist using an espresso shot. Salud!