From the colossal devastation six months ago, Puerto Rico remains in survival mode with regular power outages, boarded up windows, tarpaulin roofs and a struggling tourism industry. Despite the continuous brutality of Hurricane Maria and her effects on the beautiful island and it’s people, Peurto Rico was the perfect escape for us this winter. I was blown away by the friendliness of the locals, the resilience of small businesses and the aromas wafting out of the resident hipstery coffee shops lining the streets. For every Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts plonked on the corner, there is a trendy cafe owned by a local barista who is more passionate than I about real coffee.
When it’s hot, it’s iced coffee for me. Normally I love the smell and texture of a piping hot espresso, but in the 28+ degree PR heat I was craving all the iced lattes. There’s nothing quite like sipping a cold, caffeinated bevvy while lying on a pristine beach under the sunshine, listening to the waves licking the shore. My idea of paradise. Of course, we had to switch to the local beer after midday – it wouldn’t be a vacation without a little indulgence!
We stayed in Condado – less touristy than staying in Old San Juan so I feel like we got a good taste of some local cafes and restaurants. It felt so good to be supporting local businesses who were clearly suffering with the daily power cuts and lack of tourists. I’ve listed a few of my favourites below.
CAFÉ CON CÉ.
My number one pick – this small cafe is tucked behind a popular outdoor restaurant and bar (Tresbé). It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. But I feel sorry for anyone who walks by without making the stop. A minimal, bright and relaxed space that brews the best coffee in town. To compliment our beverages we ordered a scrumptious breakfast sandwich which they make and walk over from Tresbé. Just a warning (and this applies to everywhere you go in PR), be prepared to wait 20 minutes plus for a coffee, or for any kind of service actually. It’s island time on steroids.
Delicious coffee and some of the friendliest baristas I encountered. Punto Medio is a cosy, contemporary spot on the popular Calle Loíza strip. Their coffee was just how I like my man – strong and rich 😉. They also have a brunch menu that sounded tasty. Unfortunately I didn’t stay to indulge but I would love to go back to sample the food. If it’s anything like their coffee you can’t go wrong.
I’ll be honest, the “espresso” at Blonda was average at best. It tasted like it was straight from a Nespresso machine – so if you’re a coffee snob I would recommend one of the other coffee shops over Blonda. BUT (yes, a big but)… they had the most amazing brunch menu – I’m talking huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, eggs benny, french toast, omelettes, waffles and the perfect hangover cure – a ginger mimosa. Although Blonda is on the pricier side, the portions are huge. I would come back for a boozy brunch – just forgo the coffee and grab one from Marqusa afterwards. Who doesn’t love to cafe hop?
This cafe was on the same block as our apartment so within a week we became regulars and had some good chats with the baristas there. The people of San Juan are just so friendly – I loved these guys! Not only were their iced coffees refreshingly palatable, the espresso was full bodied and they also make a killer brunch. A real hidden gem.
And what would a tropical vacation be without some beachy pics? I had to add a few happy-snaps, mostly because Old San Juan is so colourful (literally) and rich with history, it would be a shame not to share ♥︎