One of our first ideas when we envisioned Dashboard Drifters was traveling to different coffee shops and writing about the experience. Coffee Shop Talk is a series of blog posts that will be focused on the love of coffee and amazing coffee shops we find.
We were told about Batalla while traveling in La Paz, Baja Mexico. Batalla is famous for having the best coffee. And we discovered, it’s true.
I know that stating we found the best coffee in the world is dramatic. But, seriously, this coffee is amazing! They use a special roasting called honey processing.
Coffee has many layers: silver skin, parchment, pectin, pulp, and outer skin. Natural or dry coffee is when the beans are dried in the full cherry (all their layers). The dried fruit is removed prior to roasting. When you roast the natural coffee, there is a thin skin that burns. This burnt skin can leave a bitter taste.
An alternative method is washed processing. Washed coffees are dried without the cherry, just in the parchment. The beans then ferment before being cleaned and dried.
There is a third processing method: honey processing. Honey processing uses a hybrid technique of both natural and washed. The coffee is de-pulped (cherry removed), but dried without washing. Most of the fruit is gone, but what is left is a golden, sticky mucilage. This layer is reminiscent of honey, hence the name.
When the coffee is drying, that sticky coating oxidizes and darkens. There are three different levels of honey processing: yellow, red, and black. As the coating oxidizes, it changes from yellow to red to black.
We were told by locals that Batalla’s secret is that they spray a mist of honey over their coffee beans – cafe con azucar.
While this was not confirmed, from the sounds of it, cafe con azucar is honey processed coffee.
Batalla has three options for coffee: coffee without sugar – cafe sin azucar, coffee with sugar – cafe con azucar, and coffee “scrambled” – cafe revuelto. The scrambled blend is a mix of with and without sugar coffee beans. This is the coffee to get!
Another secret: order your coffee beans double ground – dos molidas.
Coffee Shop Talk
Batalla is not a traditional coffee shop. There are no tables and you fill your cup from a coffee urn. Better than your typical ‘bucks though, the price. A grande cup of coffee is only $10 MXN ($0.50 USD); a small (chico) is $8 MXN. Adding a dash of milk is $1 MXN.
Back home, we spend an astounding $20 CAD on 1 pound bags of coffee. Yes, we buy our coffee from a local, hipster roastery, but compared to Batalla the price is out of this world. 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of freshly ground beans is only $150 MXN ($9 CAD)! For that big of a bag, we would pay over $40 back home.
When you walk into the shop, it is loud. The coffee grinders are going! When we were visiting, there was a long line up of people waiting for their fresh ground beans. After watching someone who looked like they knew what they were doing fill up a cup from the coffee urn, we followed suit.
During a momentary break in the grinding noise, we asked for a half kilo of cafe revuelto dos molidas. The woman working was absolutely sweet and patient with us and our broken Spanish. Shortly after, we walked out with half a kilo of freshly ground beans and were so excited.
One thing I will be counting down the days for is Batalla coffee.
Batalla coffee is a simple coffee spot with great beans. The prices are great. The service is friendly. And you can tell that the people care so much about their work. We can’t wait to go back and talk more and hear their stories and drink more coffee.