Need a place to linger over a cup of coffee? The Juan Valdez coffee shop on Carrera 9, just next to the JW Marriott hotel, sits under leafy trees and has one of the largest outdoor seating areas of any coffee shop in the city.
Now this shop got a new image: it brings the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to Bogota. What is the Sierra Nevada? Near the northern tip of Colombia, it’s a gorgeous mountain range with an astonishing number of bird and animal species, impressive rivers, indigenous villages, and snowy peaks that are within a stone’s throw of the ocean.
As you climb the steps on the Carrera 9 side, look at them closely. Do they look familiar? If you’ve been to the Lost City, that once-important center of Tayrona civilization, perhaps you’ll experience a moment of recognition. The steps are designed to make you feel like you’re out in the jungle climbing those rock stairways up the mountain.
Inside, you’ll find more inspiration from the Sierra Nevada. You’ll get a bit of education about the indigenous groups that grow coffee in the Sierra Nevada, the Arhuaco, Kogui, Wiwa and Kankuamo. There are posters that describe life in the communities – and if you don’t know where those places are, they have a handy map at the bottom. You’ll even get a chance to see writing in Wiwa.
New life for old materials
The interior design now concentrates on reusing materials. The wood you see on the walls? Well, if you’ve visited this Juan Valdez before, you’ve walked on those walls – that wood used to be the flooring for the outdoor seating area. Now it’s recycled into attractive walls. Beer bottles find a new life here, now shaped in the form of cacao pods like the ones that grow on coffee farms in the Sierra Nevada. Up above the refrigerated area there are a series of boxes like the ones used for accounting on coffee farms.
Chairs are made with hammock fabric in the neutral colors common to Sierra Nevada, and outside they’ve added picnic tables– get your sandwich or light lunch and have a picnic in the middle of the city’s financial district.
You’ll find coffee from the four regions that Juan Valdez sells in other stores – Huila, Antioquia, Nariño and the Sierra Nevada . Near the main entrance you’ll pass by huge scales to weigh coffee bags, those 70 kilo sacks that are brought down from the Colombian mountains, at times on the back of a mule.
Juan Valdez has more than just coffee. They have a full line of Colombian and international pastries: the tres leches cake and tiramisu cake are two of my top picks. Colombian fruits are present in their fruppé creations (like a frappé with fruit, get it?). Try one made with mora, that Colombian fruit that defies naming (is it a blackberry? loganberry? raspberry? NOPE. It’s a mora.) The fruppé gets mora, milk and sweetened condensed milk: delicious, dessert-like and refreshing.
You can purchase brewing methods, coffee cups with Juan Valdez designs, and even mochilas made by Arhuaco women. And feel free to come with your bike or your pet – both are welcome here.
Calle 73 and Carrera 9, Bogota
Interested in learning more about coffee in Colombia? Join Flavors of Bogota for a Coffee Shop Tour.