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THE BEST COFFEE SHOPS IN BAJA

THE BEST COFFEE SHOPS IN BAJA


I, like many others, love a great coffee shop. And Baja is full of them. While it’s easy to find a place that serves a decent cup, some spots are just more pleasurable to hang out in - whether’s it’s the vibe, location, quality of food & beverages, or all of the above. Experiencing new coffee shops while on the road is especially fun. It’s not weird to hang out in them alone (when solo-traveling). You can chat with the locals and get insider tips on where to go and what to do. They’re also a great place to people watch, relax or get some work done. If not outside exploring the amazing abundance of outdoor treasures that Baja has to offer, what better way to get a sense of the local scene than at a cool coffee shop? Below are my picks for the best coffee shops in Baja.

This list is not exhaustive and some of the most charming, hole-in-the-wall, or middle-of-nowhere places are not listed - simply because they have no address, online presence, or formal business structure. Pro tip: embark on the ultimate road-trip through Baja and visit them all!


TIJUANA

The main attraction in Tijuana is, without a doubt, eating and drinking. In recent years - thanks, in part, to a crop of next-generation foodie entrepreneurs - Tijuana has become one of Mexico’s most exciting gastronomic cities. You'll find incredible street food, a handful of interesting food and drink start-ups, farm-to-table dining serving “Baja Med” cuisine, trendy brewpubs and of course, more than a handful of excellent coffee shops. 

The Artesanal Baja Coffee Shop Guide - Tijuana 1

Clockwise from upper left: B Haus Coffee Shop (Photo credit: @bhauscoffeeshop); Drinks + bites at Kurtoz Coffee (Photo credit: @kurtozrbc); Nativo Coffee (Photo Credit: @nativocoffee); B Haus Coffee Shop (Photo Credit: @elizabethfraustooo); Chimney cake at Kurtoz Coffee (Photo Credit: @kurtozrbc); Carajillo beverage at Native Coffee (Photo Credit: @nativocoffee).

The Artesanal Baja Coffee Shop Guide - Tijuana 2

Clockwise from upper left: Omerta Cafe Society (Photo credit: @omertacafe); 

Nativo Coffee Shop, part of the Coyote Project portfolio, embodies all that is cool about Tijuana today. Nativo shares a courtyard with Cereus Bar (another Coyote Project endeavor that is not to be missed) and you can lounge under the heatlamps with your choice of coffee or cocktail. The carajillo is not to be missed. 

Kurtoz Coffee is located in the Playas de Tijuana neighborhood a few blocks from the beach. Notable for its Mexican take on by Hungarian pastries known as chimney cakes. Kurtoz creates the cakes in savory and sweet combinations, but the sweet and simple Clasico varietal is a must-try. It tastes like a combination of a churro, donut and croissant. The Cronut, who?

A few blocks away in a more residential section of the Playas ‘hood is B Haus Coffee Shop. Chill on the outdoor patio with a “Güerito” (cold brew + lemon juice + agave) or a “Hawiano” (latte with coconut cream).

Definitely a locals vibe at the small but stylish Ojos Claros Cafe. Stop first at Tras/ Horizonte (a few blocks to the north) for tacos, then re-energize with an espresso.

Located in Zona Centro, Omerta Cafe Society has a definite European-vibe with a quaint patio lit by string lights and heat lamps. Delicious bites, artisanal brews, cocktails and coffee make this a perfect place to stop day or night. 


ENSENADA / VALLE DE GUADALUPE

Ensenada is the gateway to the Valle de Guadalupe (Baja’s wine region), and I love spending a night or two here before or after staying in the Valle. In addition to scenic hikes along the coast, great fishing and scuba diving (hello, kelp + garibaldis), Ensenada has a (relatively) cute and walkable downtown, fantastic street food, and a growing number of hip brewpubs, bars and coffeeshops. 

The Artesanal Baja Coffee Shop Guide - Ensenada 1

Clockwise from left: Fractal Brew Bar; Barra d’Cafe; the patio at HL Casa; and Fractal Brew Bar. 

The Artesanal Baja Coffee Shop Guide - Ensenada 2

Clockwise from left: Pacific Brews; Asa Nisi Masa inside Pacific Brews; Pacific Brews.

The Artesanal Baja Coffee Shop Guide - Ensenada 3

Clockwise from left: HL Casa; Das Cortez (Photo Credit: @dascorteoficial); the vibes at Bodegas de Santo Tomas in Ensenada; and coffee + cigars at HL Casa (Photo Credit: @hlcasa).

Fractal Brew Bar is located in Zona Centro and one block from the famous Cantina Hussong’s (worth a visit). Fractal is open, airy and has outdoor seating along a cute alley hosting other small shops including a cute plant nursery and a hair salon. It’s a great, quiet place with a nice vibe for working or reading.

At the northern edge of Zona Centro is perhaps the cutest block in all of Ensenada. Here you’ll find Barra d’Cafe inside a marketplace-style building also home to Alta Baja Ceveceria (great rooftop bar), Mezcaleria La Penca, and a salumeria. Across the Plaza de Santo Tomas is an adorable cheese shop (La Fromagerie), a gelato shop (Limon Limoncellos), a bakery and a wine shop. Just across the street is a wine cellar where you can taste wine indoors or outdoors. Everything you might want in one block, studded with large and leafy trees, string lights and outdoor seating.

Blink and you might walk past HL Casa, a coffee shop featuring high-quality cigars + coffee. One block from La Guerrerense (of Anthony Bourdain fame, and also not to be missed). Stop here for a quiet morning coffee on the patio before the tourist crowds hit (on weekends). 

Head to Pacific Brews for a view with your coffee. Asa Nisi Masa coffee + bakery is located inside Pacific Brews and if you visit in the mornings you can enjoy the outdoor garden just steps from the Pacific Ocean. 

Das Cortez is located in the Valle de Guadalupe, and has plentiful outdoor seating across the property - including at the top of a large structure designed to look like a wine barrel - with views overlooking the vineyards and mountains of the valley. 


TECATE

The most relaxing and scenic route to cross the border is through Tecate. Below are a few coffee shops to energize your travels, whether you’re just passing through or staying for a few days (also recommended: a relaxing weekend at Rancho La Puerta featuring cooking classes, time at the spa, or a wine dinner on the farm).

The Artesanal Best Coffee Shops in Baja - Tecate

Clockwise from top left: Corteza (Photo Credit: @cafecorteza); Bocashi Coffee House (Photo Credit: @bocashicoffeehouse); Breakfast at Corteza (Photo Credit: @cafecorteza); Kilo Libra Cafe (Photo Credit: @kilolibracafe); Kilo Libra Cafe (Photo Credit: @kilolibracafe); coffee and macarons at Bocashi Coffee House (Photo Credit: @bocashicoffeehouse); and Astratto Cafe and Bakery (Photo Credit: @astratto_coffee_and_bakery).

Corteza is one block of Hwy 2., making it an easy pitstop. Featuring an inviting patio, a large menu of delicious food options and great coffee.

Just two and a half blocks to the north (and also mere blocks from Hwy 2) is Bocashi Coffee House. Bocashi features a lush patio with string lights and a menu geared towards the sweet tooth - macarons and other pastries, sugary coffee drinks and their own cold brew. 

My favorite coffee shop in Tecate is KiloLibra Cafe, located on the Parque Miguel Hidalgo - the main plaza in town. Light and airy inside, and very pet-friendly. The ambiance is so nice you’ll want to stay; however, taking food + coffee to go and strolling the tree-lined Parque Miguel Hidalgo is also a lovely way to spend an hour or two.


MEXICALI

Mexicali, much like Tijuana, is not a typical tourist destination nor is it particularly beautiful. It is a bit gritty without many notable places or points of interest to visit. However, Mexicali is interesting - it is home to one of the largest Chinese communities in Mexico, which has of course influenced the local cuisine and culture (the underground network of tunnels in La Chinesca, the Mexicali Chinatown, are utterly fascinating). Mexicali also has a sizable middle and upper class, and it is considered one of the most prosperous cities in Mexico. Unsurprisingly, there is no shortage of brewpubs, upscale restaurants and trendy coffee shops that cater to this local population. 

Best Coffee Shops in Baja - Mexicali 1

Clockwise from top left: Kalinka Cafe (Photo Credit: @kalinka_mxli); Cafe Reforma (Photo Credit: @cafereformamxl); La Bendita Coffee truck; A fresh pastry at Kalinka (Photo Credit: @kalinka_mxli); and B 19 Coffee Bar (Photo Credit: @b19coffeebar.mxl).

Best Coffee Shops in Baja - Mexicali 2

Clockwise from left: Moulu Cafe (Photo credit: @moulu_mxli); Succulenta Deli Cafe (Photo Credit: @succulenta.mxl); and Los Huertos Cafe (Photo Credit: @loshuertoscafe).

Kalinka panaderia + coffee shop is located in what is considered one of the more upscale parts of the city (San Pedro). Notable for it’s delicious house-made bread, pastries and excellent coffee.

Adjacent to the UABC university and nearly at the US & Mexico border is Cafe Reforma, located on a wide boulevard lined with tall palm trees that will make you think for a second you’re somewhere in Los Angeles. 

B19 Coffee Bar - Cold brew nitro on tap. Need I say more?

Moulu trendy and bright interiors. Try the golden milk latte or açaí bowl. 

Succulenta Cafe + Deli is my favorite, featuring a large outdoor patio, delicious food and yummy drinks like yogurt lassi sweetened with dates and cardamom. 

If you’re passing through Mexicali, you’re likely en route south to some other destination in Baja via Hwy 5. If so, I recommend stopping to stretch your legs at Los Huertos, a cute outdoor cafe serving food such as wood-fired pizza and pasta in addition to coffee. Los Huertos is located east of Hwy 5 about 40 km south of Mexicali. 


SAN JOSÉ DEL CABO

San José del Cabo is by far the better half of the Los Cabos region (with Cabo San Lucas being the other half). The small and walkable historic center is quaint and filled with lovely shops, art galleries, restaurants and, of course, coffee shops. Here are a few that you shouldn’t miss.

Best Coffee Shops in Baja - San Jose del Cabo 1

Clockwise from top left: Pez Gallo (Photo credit: wanderinthyme); Coffee at Pez Gallo (Photo Credit: @pezgallo.coffee); vibes at Coffee Lab (Photo Credit: lab_Baja); Coffee Lab (Photo Credit: @lab_Baja); PezGallo (Photo Credit: @pezgallo.coffee); Cold brews at Coffee Lab (Photo Credit: @lab_Baja); food at Coffee Lab (Photo Credit: @lab_Baja); and El Wine Bar at Flora Farms (Photo Credit: @elwineshop).

Coffee Lab embodies indoor / outdoor design at its best. The sizable outdoor patio is filled with large trees and plentiful lounge furniture and tables. Large windows and doors invite the outside in. The modern aesthetic features concrete + wood elements, and the wifi is fast. 

Recently re-located to the quaint Centro Historico, PezGallo is equal parts excellent ambiance + delicious food. Ask for the chilaquiles.

No trip to Los Cabos is complete without a visit to Flora Farms, and you’ll definitely want to start your visit at El Wine Shop, a coffee/wine bar, for an espresso while perusing the nearby shops. Pick up a couple bags of beans to take home with you. 


LA PAZ

La Paz has a fantastic waterfront dining scene along the Malecón (the longest in Mexico), and there are plentiful coffee shops where you can enjoy a view of the beautiful turquoise water, and people watch. My picks below are a few favorites in tucked away locations off the waterfront. La Paz is also notable for its huge number of urban murals - walking the streets of this beautiful seaside city feels like Mexico City meets Baja. 

Best Coffee Shops in Baja - La Paz

Clockwise from top left: Doce Cuarenta (Photo Credit: @docecuarentacafe); Breakfast fare at Capuchino (Photo Credit: @capuchino.mx); Outdoor dining at Nomada Organics; Desert flowers in southern Baja; The Peach (Photo Credit: @tripadvisor); and street vibes at Capuchino (Photo Credit: @capuchino.mx).

Located in downtown La Paz near the mission and the newly completed art museum is the original Doce Cuarenta cafe. This space has everything you might want in a coffee shop: a parklet out front, a beautiful patio in the back, plentiful indoor seating with fast wifi and a menu of delicious pastries, savory bites and coffee. Alcoholic beverages are also available. Due to the success of this original location, Doce Cuarenta has expanded over the years and a second La Paz location is open in the Costa Baja Marina. A third (and fabulous) location recently opened in Todos Santos (noted below).

Capuchino is a super cute vegetarian cafe serving food such as falafel tacos, non-meat hamburguesas, and vegetarian empanadas. There is also a large selection of freshly squeezed juice, local beer and of course coffee and tea. Outdoor patio + indoor seating is available. 

The Peach is located on a tree-lined, narrow street with several beautiful murals. Sweet and savory bites are available along with coffee and smoothies. Location: Ignacio Zaragoza 40, Zona Central, 23000 La Paz.

About 45 minutes east of La Paz are the small towns of La Ventana / El Sargento, which are growing in popularity due to optimal conditions for wind-surfing, scuba diving and fishing. There is much to explore here but Nomada Organics, an outdoor cafe nestled amidst a forest of cacti and desert fauna, is not to be missed. Breakfast dishes range from hearty to simple. The concept of “slow food” is the foundation of the menu, and that combined with the atmosphere ensure you definitely won’t want to leave. 


TODOS SANTOS

Todos Santos is a sleepy yet growing town about 45 minutes up the Pacific Coast from Los Cabos. It’s a beautiful drive and a completely different vibe from the very busy Los Cabos region. The downtown is filled with nice shops, great restaurants and cute cafes. Below are the best coffee shops in Todos Santos, Baja.

Best Coffee Shops Baja - Todos Santos 1

Clockwise from top left: Palmar Pescadero (Photo Credit: @palmarpescadero); the beach at Hotel San Cristobal; Dining at Hotel San Cristobal (Photo Credit: hotelsancristobal); Doce Cuartenta Todos Santos; coffee at Doce Cuarenta Todos Santos; breakfast fare at Hotel San Cristobal (Photo Credit: @hotelsancristobal).

Best Coffee Shops in Baja - Todos Santos 2

Clockwise from top left: Jazamango Cafe (Photo Credit: @jazacafe); the patio scene at La Esquina; breakfast fare at Jazamango Cafe (Photo Credit: @jazacafe); and Taller 17 (Photo Credit: @taller17todossantos).

Doce Cuarenta recently opened a large outpost just beyond the edge of downtown Todos Santos. The space is two levels with indoor and outdoor seating, centered by a large coffee bar serving delicious food and drinks. Don’t be surprised if you end up staying much longer than you intended. 

Taller 17 - a bright and airy space, marble counters, Spanish tile, yummy pastries, and an ideal location downtown amidst great shops such as Etnica, Nomad Chic and La Katrina Surf Shop. 

Heading out of downtown towards the beach will take you past La Esquina with a lush outdoor patio shaded by palm trees, delicious and hearty food, and great coffee. You’ll probably come back everyday. 

The Jazamango Cafe by chef Javier Plascencia (one of the most famous chefs in Mexico who helped define “BajaMed” cuisine) is the more casual outpost of Jazamango Restaurant and located in the heart of downtown (around the corner from Taller 17). Serving breakfast and lunch with a lovely garden patio, fast wifi and great service.

The Hotel San Cristobal is at the end of a dirt road on the outskirts of town on a secluded beach (where local fisherman haul out their boats after a day of fishing). The hotel is stylish in decor and architecture, featuring colorful patterned tile, palm furniture, and cacti-studded landscaping. The views are stunning, and you don’t need to be a guest to soak in the vibes if you visit the on-site restaurant. Yes, this is a hotel restaurant, not a coffee shop or cafe. However, I recommend the second floor seating or ocean-front platform with a cup of coffee and plate of huevos. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better way to start your day. 

El Pescadero is a cute beach town nearby Todos Santos. Baja Beans and Palmar Pescadero are two solid coffee shops. Baja beans is just off Hwy 1 across from a slew of taco stands. Palmar Pescadero is on the road to the beach and is a beautiful indoor/outdoor space with excellent food and great coffee. Ask about the mole de Veracruz.

There's my round-up of the best coffee shops in Baja (2021). Happy exploring!

-Jackie

(Header photo credits: @citron_mx).

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