Chile, beans, corn, squash … you already know the ingredients that make Santa Fe’s world-renowned cuisine so deliciously compelling. Mix in 300-plus days of sunshine a year and you’d think that would be recipe enough for rising bright-eyed and bushy-tailed every morning, but we’re just like the rest of the world: there are times when a jump-start is a necessity.
Santa Fe is a city chock-full of dedicated coffee and tea enthusiasts, with a crew of independent brewers and tea-masters who provide a quality quick sip or a place to linger after lunch. Travel + Leisure named us one of America's Best Coffee Cities, noting that our coffee spots “reflect this southwestern city’s artsy, quirky vibe.”
Breathe in the Small-Batch Fragrance at Ohori’s Coffee
From the Arabian Peninsula to the Americas, the coffee selection at Ohori’s is a global gathering. My mornings often start with their classic Colombian, a single-origin supply this year. The fragrance alone wakes me up, but don’t pry that cup from my hands before it’s empty. In the afternoon, you can get fooled into a buzz with their House Decaffeinated Blend or a creamy decaf latte. Regardless of your coffee craving, rest assured that Ohori’s has a locally roasted brew that’s right for you.
This little roasting giant with the big, bold flavor was founded in 1984 by namesake and former owner Susan Ohori, and the tradition of careful small-batch roasting and conscientious coffee curation she established endures in both Ohori’s new home on Cerrillos Road and its outpost on Pen Road (different hours at each location).
Get Your Java Fix and Your Newspaper at The Downtown Subscription
There’s a good chance you’ll land in Santa Fe with a dual need for fresh coffee and new vacation reading material. This dilemma is easily rectified if you satisfy your coffee jones indulging in an artfully-made latte from the sweet barista at The Downtown Subscription, while you catch up on Santa Fe and world news. Or, consider daintily sipping a cup of tea with cream as you peruse the pages of a British tabloid for the latest news about the royal baby. Since a whole corner of the DTS (as my BFF calls it) is devoted to every magazine you can think of, as well as a broad selection of national and international newspapers, you can drink, think, and wake up to the world all in one sweet spot.
This hideaway at the corner of Garcia Street and Acequia Madre used to be an actual neighborhood grocery store, and it’s still a hangout for Santa Feans like me who love the local vibe and an unexpected visit with an old friend. The transformation of the building from its grocery past also resulted in the Photo Eye Gallery, as well as a terrific art-book store, Garcia Street Books, if you prefer pictures while you perk up with a caffeinated elixir.
Start a Canyon Road Walk with a Caffe Greco Cup
A stroll up Canyon Road means a lot of looking, so a pit stop at Caffe Greco, perched at the base of this artistic avenue, lets you awaken your mind’s eye before you start with the art. For me, a shot of that deeply satisfying Lavazza espresso is the epitome of an eye-opener, and Lavazza’s tagline, “Italy’s best coffee,” is an invitation I am happy to accept.
Combine your pause for coffee with a breakfast burrito, made by Chef Cindy, to gobble up onsite or to-go. The colorful interiors are laden with art and charm, and the fact that Caffe Greco is open until 5 pm means your itinerary could include a cool coffee granita drink at the end of your artistic adventuring, when the sweet shady patio will be a welcome sight.
Let Fatigue Fly Out the Window at Flying Star
As befits a place with an astral name, the brew at the Flying Star Cafe is provided by Satellite Coffee. Hearing Satellite Coffee’s motto “passionate about coffee,” I am comforted to know a cup of coffee here will not be a weak and watery waste of time. Satellite’s selection starts before the coffee hits the roaster, through a process called cupping, which begins with tasting the green beans, essential to brewing a fine cup. The taste of their award-winning coffee showcases the patience and skill of the staff.
Based in Albuquerque, the Flying Star landed as an anchor tenant in the Santa Fe Railyard and has been a welcome addition to this vibrant arts and entertainment district, especially since it’s open daily 7 am-9 pm (til 10 pm Fridays and Saturdays). Naturally, spending time on the front end helps ensure satisfied coffee connoisseurs — and so does the Frequent Flyer rewards card. Keep it handy for your return visit to Santa Fe.
Enjoy Italian-Style Illy Coffee at the Museum Hill Café
Beautiful Museum Hill, home to five fabulous Santa Fe cultural institutions, is a day-long destination, and I definitely recommend taking a coffee break in the midst of your museum experiences. The charming Museum Hill Café is nestled there to offer respite, and there’s nothing like an Illy Caffe to revive an avid museum-goer who has to switch gears from learning about Spanish Colonial Arts to admiring Japanese kites or comparing Native American pottery designs.
I need fresh eyes to view art, and the pleasure of a rich, flavorful Italian brew and a tender slice of babka creates a successful revival for several more hours of artful activity. Open daily 11 am-3 pm, the Café bills itself as “the best seat in Santa Fe you haven’t discovered,” and if that’s not an enticement, what is?
Expand Your Tea Knowledge at The Teahouse
Walking all the way up Canyon Road after that long-ago morning coffee means your feet are tired and your palate is ready for something different. Relax … The Teahouse beckons! Open every day 9 am–9 pm, this is an elegant, yet homey spot at which to spend a pleasant hour with a friend. Slowing down with a cup of tea in the serenity of this quiet courtyard on historic Canyon Road imparts the sense of authenticity that special destinations like Santa Fe possess.
Drinking tea with Grandma meant Lipton’s when I was young, but fortunately, my world of tea has expanded since then. White and green, black and chai, herbals and restoratives — the authentic tea menu here is simply too long (140 or so) to list. Teahouse’s team of knowledgeable and helpful servers will help you discover global tea traditions, and take you on a world-wide travel adventure through your cup when tea-time arrives.
Touring Santa Fe and the World One Cup at a Time
Given its well-earned reputation as a unique destination, be assured Santa Feans know where to find the buzz, and a Coffee Lovers’ Tour can take you there. Dip into the taste of other cultures simply by stopping for coffee or tea at a local spot where the staff is as committed to their beverages as the City Different is to its diverse community. Choose adventurously — and drink deeply — to enjoy the flavors of Santa Fe.