The Coffee Shops of Escandón

There are a surprising number of coffee shops in Escandón, the neighborhood where I live in Mexico City.  Unlike the more posh La Condesa just to the north, Escandón is noted for being a more traditional colonia, with blue collar Mexican families and retired couples, not hordes of escapist ex-pats.  It seems strange to me, then, that there would be so many coffee shops here — by last count, eight within four blocks of my house.

Most notably, not a single one of the shops in Escandón is a multi-national like Starbucks, or even a local chain; each is run by an entrepreneur… a small family, a local businessman, or a woman starting what may be her first enterprise.  There’s Mami, which has excellent cookies and free wireless; the brightly lit Libre de Stress; Tempo di Cafe, my usual haunt; the more health food-oriented Deliciosa; and a variety of others, some very small, and others, large and with rooms full of art and open patios.  If you like, check out the interactive map on the tab above to find them.

In general, coffee shop culture in Mexico City is limited to only the wealthiest parts of the city, with ubiquitous the Starbucks (and local chains like the Italian Coffee Co. and Punta del Cielo) occupying prized corners and mall spaces in Polanco, La Condesa, Las Lomas.  Coffee shops also tend to be part of the status image sought by Mexico’s elite, with customers at a crowded Starbucks happily paying prices that (until recently) were higher than those in the U.S., even if a nearly identical local chain next door offers cheaper coffee drinks and plenty of open seating.  This, then, is a sharp contrast to the culture of independent shops emerging in working class Escandón.  Of course, I have never seen any of those here crowded, or even close to it.  

Perhaps these coffee shops are a sign of change in Escandón, an indication of a things to come, of Mexican gentrification, with more people seeking to be near La Condesa, but without the huge premiums on rents.  It may be that these entrepreneurs are at the edge of the new market, or on the verge of creating a new one, though with few people, at least so far, to realize these unique little treasures. 

 

México, D.F.

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