– Can you please introduce yourself in a few words.
Hi! I’m Octavio but friends call me Tato. I’m a Q Grader, Barista and
one of the owners of Almanegra Café, a two location coffee shop based
in Mexico City. I’m also a software developer.
– What’s your story in the coffee industry?
Professionally speaking it started once Almanegra Café opened in
Narvarte neighborhood in 2014.
It has been a journey of transforming an amateur hobby to a
professional job. Last year, I took, on my birthday, the Arabica Q
Grader exam in Colombia so I became a professional coffee cupper.
I’ve worked for Nestlé among other projects and companies and I’m
looking forward to became a judge on 2019 Mexico’s cup of excellence.
– When did Almanegra Café open and what is the story behind?
Almanegra opened to business on Nov ’14. The idea behind it was to
have a specialty coffee shop in our neighborhood. If you know CDMX
(Mexico City) the way neighborhoods develop, particularly on the
leisure side, they lacks the decentralization needed to live in a
place with a local bar, a local theater or a coffee shop. Mostly
everything on food and beverage are in Roma-Condesa & Polanco so we
wanted to have our own coffee shop a few blocks from home so
commuting to have a great coffee shop was not needed. After a year,
we had the chance to open a second location in Roma, were besides the
original spirit of Narvarte most of our foreign customers attend.
– What’s your specialty and what makes you different?
Well, our specialty is specialty coffee. We serve Mexican coffee along
other country regions and origins as we believe that comparing helps
to understand not only the possibilities of coffee but to push
forward our expectations of quality.
– What was your first coffee experience?
As an experience I still recall my mom preparing coffee after dinner
at home. She still prepares it cowboy style in a pewter pot for what
we call in Mexico « sobremesa » (literally over-table or after-table),
that time where you keep talking after the meal for several hours, a
well know tradition.
– How/when have you discovered about specialty coffee?
This must be a cliché already. Have you heard about the story of
someone trying an specialty Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee for first
time noticing, without any knowledge of coffee, blueberries notes in
their cup? Well, that happen to me too. The difference was that,
considering that I was (and I’m not) a heavy coffee drinker, I knew I
came from a coffee producing country (as this experience was while
traveling in San Francisco 7 years ago) and I started a search and
discover about the specialty coffee scene in town.
– What was your best coffee experience?
I would say that my best coffee experience right know happens while
cupping. Sharing knowledge, experience, cupping notes with others is
where my best cofffe experience resides right now.
I do love to see people coming to Almanegra or any other coffee shop
having a seat and enjoying a coffee but that doesn’t work for me. I’m
kind of a person who, besides eating, can’t stay much longer on a
place holding a mug alone.
– Do you prepare coffee at home ? If yes, what method do you use?
Right know I’m using a Baratza Virtuoso + Kruve + Melodrip + Kalita Wave.
I do prepare my own water slightly higher that the SCA specs for brewing.
It can’t be less nerdy and it’s what I enjoy.
– How do you like your coffee? Black, sugar and milk, iced, vietnamese style,…?
I do prefer filter coffee while at home and espressi on a coffee shop.
– How would you qualify yourself as coffee drinker (occasional, heavy, addict…)?
I would say that I’m a occasional. I usually drink a filter coffee
before an espresso in a coffee shop and that’s good for the day.
Sometimes if I don’t make any at home I don’t drink coffee at all that
day. I do have a nespresso machine at the office where I serve
capsules from Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood if I happen to need a caffeine
– Have you always been into the coffee industry? If not, what was your previous job?
I’m a software developer, I do have a company specialized in
computer-telephony integrations. We develop software for contact
centres, chatterbots with AI and deploy VoIP phone systems.
– Do you have another passion or a hobby besides coffee?
I’ve been into FLOSS (Free and open-source software) advocacy for 20 years.
– What other place would you recommend, anywhere in the world (coffee or not)?
If you visit Mexico City:
My favorite breakfast spot is Fonda Margarita in Tlacoquemecatl Del
Valle, arrive before 10 AM as they open by 5 AM and they run out of
Have a mezcal at Bósforo Mezcalería and after that go for tacos at Los
Cocuyos. That combo is infalible for a night of drinks and food.
Head yourself to the Anahuacalli museum, your Frida Khalo house ticket
already gives you access to it. It’s a must, it’s under the radar and
it’s more impressive than the Frida’s house.
If you are for just a few days, skip Teotihuacan, go to Templo Mayor
instead and enjoy downtown and an extra day in the city.
Have lunch at Parnita for an amazing taco experience and a trendy
scene packed of hipsters, businessmen and artists. I do eat quite
– What is/are your favorite website(s) to get information about coffee?
To answer this question correctly I would say:
but I would say that my favorite place any online shop to buy book as
I prefer to read on paper. This are my current preferred one:
* The Craft and Science of Coffee (Britta Folmer, 2017)
* Water for Coffee (Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood; Christopher Hendon, 2015)
* All About Coffee (Willy Ukers, 1933)
Right now I’m reading The New Rules of Coffee: A Modern Guide for
Everyone (J Michelman, Z Carlsen, 2018).
Home-barista.com and /r/Coffee on Reddit are great places to have a
conversation about coffee.
I usually read the emails from Sprudge, Scott Rao, Jim Seven and
Barista Hustle and from there I jump to the articles if I find them
– What would you say to people who don’t know much about coffee?
As the question doesn’t imply that person wants to know about coffee I
would say that keep it in that way. Understanding good quality in
coffee is a no return point that it’s not for everybody.