I think it is safe to say that most people will be surprised to find such a large number of specialty coffee shops in Tijuana. The city of 2 million inhabitants loves coffee and there is not shortage of excellent coffee roasters. The best coffee in Tijuana highlights small farms from across Mexico that really care about quality.
I often stay that the Tijuana Metropolitan Area includes San Diego which has a solid lineup of specialty coffee. The difference is that very little coffee is grown in the United States. Mexico is the world’s 9th-largest grower of coffee and they are getting very good at it.
The market for specialty coffee pays a premium for quality beans and Mexico has been taking advantage. Most people are familiar with the coffee-growing states of Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Chiapas but more states with favorable elevation and climate are planting coffee. Jalisco, Hidalgo, and Nayarit produce some of my favorite coffees but represent a very small percentage of the total acreage of coffee in Mexico.
Most of the coffee shops on this list sell coffee from a single farm rather than a blend of many farms from one state. I love seeing pictures of the farm and hearing stories about a farmer who loves coffee.
The Best Coffee In Tijuana
It is hard to go more than a few blocks without finding a decent cup of coffee in Tijuana. I tend to drink way more coffee than I need to because I want to try every coffee shop in the vicinity.
These are the coffee shops that I love.
Some of these coffee shops are roasters and some just buy really good coffee.
One of my favorite parts of exploring Tijuana for coffee is finding a sense of community. Each of these coffee shops is very different from the next in concept. Some are fancy and some are alternative but each has built a community around a love of coffee.
Come and explore Tijuana with me and let’s get a coffee.
1. Excelso 77 Coffee Lab & Roasters
Delicious coffee with a lot of education. When I walked into Excelso 77, I wasn’t sure if they were open to the public. The place is filled with huge burlap sacks of green coffee and they are more focused on working the coffee roasting machines than they are watching the door.
They have a small coffee bar that was in the middle of a training activity for a couple opening a coffee shop (I was eavesdropping because I didn’t know if I was in the right place). Their descriptions and coffee education program are exceptional.
I enjoyed a very well-balanced espresso but the flat white was the best I have tasted in months. I enjoyed that cup of coffee so much that I put Excelso 77 at the top of my list of the best coffee in Tijuana.
The service was also warm, inviting, and happy to share their favorite recommendations with me.
I’m still not sure what type of coffee shop this is. It feels like their focus is on wholesale but they know how to make a guy looking for a single bag of coffee happy to try some samples.
If you love specialty coffee, you will love Excelso 77.
Excelso 77 Address: Paseo de los Heroes 3565, 20 de Noviembre, Tijuana, B.C.
2. Ilustre Café
Ilustre Café is reason enough to drive to Playas de Tijuana. They roast some of the best coffee in Mexico but they also win big international awards when they compete in Southern California. I feel like this is a very good representation of Tijuana with one foot on each side of the border.
While mostly focused on ultra-premium Mexican coffee, there are a few imports. Their coffee is not cheap but I recognize the names of several of their purveyors from other high-end coffee roasters in Mexico City.
Ilustre Coffee Roasters was a recommendation from a barista at Xitzin Café in Guadalajara. He poured me one of the best V60s that I have tasted all while hyping up Ilustre Café saying it is his favorite. His enthusiasm is a part of the reason that I am writing this article. I was amazed with what I found in Tijuana and want to share this coffee with more coffee lovers.
This is specialty coffee at its best and I recommend getting your passport updated so that you can drive to Playas de Tijuana and drink coffee at the beach.
Ilustre Address: P.º Playas de Tijuana 767, Playas, de Tijuana, Tijuana, B.C.
What a cool scene. This is what Tijuana means to me. Aether is a coffee shop run by a professionally trained chef in an alleyway off Avenida Revolución. This type of community-based culinary experience is bringing people back to a tourist destination long forgotten.
Pasaje Rodríguez is an alternative shopping experience hidden along the biggest tourist trap in North America. It is designed for locals and not drunken tourists taking pictures with zebra-painted donkeys on Avenida Revolución.
The coffee at Aether is very high quality. The sparkling water garnished with mint from a pot on the counter was the cherry on top. Any time I am anywhere near Avenida Revolución, I need to stop by Aether to get an espresso.
I am embarrassed to say that I have not eaten here yet. There is a menu of very forward-thinking fermented beverages that Rene Redzepi would be proud of. The kombucha has a loyal following and they are returning to the Native roots with their fermentations.
Make sure to bookmark this place and hunt it down. It is not something you will run into by chance but you have to look.
AETHER Address: Pasaje Rodríguez, Zona Centro, Tijuana, B.C.
4. Baristas Bravos
Baristas Bravos is a new, high-end concept by the Das Cortez coffee group. They are serving their best coffees in a minimalist space. The waiter was quick to point out that there is no sugar or flavored syrups at Baristas Bravos. Just coffee
La Cacho Neighborhood is one of the coolest places to hang out in Tijuana these days. There are dozens of high-end restaurants and a couple of Tijuana’s best coffee shops all within a few blocks.
If you are looking for the best coffee in Tijuana, Baristas Bravos needs to be on your list.
Baristas Bravos Address: Calle Jalisco 2511, Col. Madero (Cacho), Tijuana, B.C.
5. Container Coffee Roasters
I missed my flight back to Guadalajara one day because the CBX was really slow. Volaris got me on the next flight but I had four hours to kill. I ended up walking up and down Avenida Revolución waiting for Container Coffee to open.
This is the sort of coffee shop that I remember handing out at on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach back in the 90s. The barista looked hung over but was excited to talk about coffee with me. The tip jar says, “Tips for tacos” and I truly believe that tip money buys some of the best tacos in Tijuana.
I was kind of surprised that there were no bags of coffee for sale. They were selling a delicious washed coffee from Guerrero that I wanted to take back to Guadalajara but they were working with a limited supply that day.
Make it a point to stop at Container Coffee the next time you are in TJ. The people are cool and the coffee is great.
Container Coffee Address: Av. Revolución 1348, Zona Centro, Tijuana, B.C.
6. Sospeso Coffee & Roasting House
Sospeso Address: Calle Joaquín Clausel 10342, Zona Río , Tijuana, B.C.
7. Electric Coffee Roasters
La Cacho Address: Calle Brasil 2309, Col. Madero (Cacho), Tijuana, B.C.
Hipodromo Address: Av. Hipódromo 9, Hipodromo, Tijuana, B.C.
3a. Etapa Address: P.º del Río 16220, Río Tijuana 3a. Etapa, Tijuana, B.C.
8. Pichino’s Coffee and Crew
Pichino’s Address: Calle Fray Justo Sierra 9039, Zona Este, Tijuana, B.C.
9. Comunal Café
Comunal Café Address: Av. Rio Bravo, Marron, Tijuana, B.C.
Final Thoughts On The Best Coffee In Tijuana
I flew up to San Diego for jury duty this summer. On my jury duty lunch break, I found a ‘specialty’ coffee shop in El Cajon that charged me five dollars for an espresso. While it was an ok espresso I felt the price was abusive and the coffee left a bitter taste in my mouth.
The entire time I was tasting coffee in Tijuana I kept thinking how much more I enjoyed this coffee over the five-dollar espresso in El Cajon. I liked the community more. I like Mexican coffee more than much of the coffee that I drink in the United States.
If you are really into coffee, you need to visit Tijuana. The third-wave, specialty coffee scene is more exciting than it is in San Diego. TJ is hip again and you need to get down here as soon as possible.