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The Border Report

Tijuana Café Trio

By Derrik Chinnn

In a city like Tijuana, where daily routines commonly include spending anywhere from two to five hours queued up at the border, knowing where to get a cup of superb coffee is essential. In a country like Mexico, which ranks eighth in world coffee production, that shouldn’t be as trying a task as it often is. Tijuana gave birth to its very own chain of Starbucks-esque cafés—D’Volada—years before the Seattle coffee conglomerate finally seeped into town, in 2007. But only recently have independent cafés begun to pride themselves on knowing their bourbons, maragogipes, caturras, and typicas, and looking sharp while doing so. Here are three Tijuana coffee spots that are more than worthy of your pesos.

Cafe Sabina

Style and cozy factors collide at this second-story coffee loft, which bills itself as an art library that hosts local bands, theater acts, and the occasional storybook reading for kids. Astroturf and rescued wood pad the walls, and an eclectic mix of mid-century furniture fills the floor. Like that Eames knockoff you’re sitting in? Ask how much. It’s all supposedly for sale. The recommendation of the house: the Sabina Latte, brewed from Veracruz beans, served with a dollop of Nutella. Avenida Miguel Aleman and Boulevard Agua Caliente, Colonia Gabilondo

The Border Report

Café Aquamarino

Café Aquamarino

Café Aquamarino

Ocean views spill through expansive windows in this beachfront outpost at the southernmost end of Tijuana’s cafe-dotted boardwalk, where retired surfboards serve to post the menu. The true spectacle, however, awaits upstairs on the rooftop sundeck, where on a clear day the horizon stretches beyond the San Diego skyline. But the sun and sound of the waves leave you feeling a lot closer to Cabo than the border fence. The recommendation of the house: the Mexican mocha, made with espresso and Abuelita chocolate. 1342 Avenida Paseo Costero, Playas de Tijuana

Das Cortez

It’s a clean palette as far as aesthetics go at this small stop-and-go sidewalk cafe, which consists of a walkup bar and a lone table in the heart of La Cacho, the would-be North Park of Tijuana. The premium Arabica selection hails from the central and southern Mexico states Nayarit, Guerrero, Colima, Veracruz, and Chiapas. The recommendation of the house: Cappuletto Romantico, a double latte served with a tobacco leaf. 8920 Calle Brasil, Colonia Cacho

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