Almanegra means “black soul.” The coffee shop opened its doors three years ago in the comfortable, familiar, and beautiful neighborhood of Narvarte in Mexico City. Its three co-founders picked the neighborhood because it was theirs—they bet on their home quartier because of its architecture, quality restaurants, and atmosphere.
Almanegra was the first cafe in Narvarte where the principle character was coffee. Now, after two successful years, it’s ready for a second act—this time in La Roma.
Almanegra’s is a minimalist design, where seasonally-changing coffee art hangs on the walls. It is a comfortable place to work, read, or have a nice chat. Octavio Ruiz, one of Almanegra’s owners, made sure the La Roma location would have the equipment to match his ambitions for quality—namely a La Marzocco GS3 for espresso drinks, and manual brewers including the Eva Solo, Chemex, Japanese syphon, and Hario V60.
Almanegra also has cold brew two ways—made standard in a Bruer, and nitro. Those overwhelmed with choosing a drink won’t have to—you can “worship” all Almanegra’s coffees at once, a special order that includes a cold brew or manually-brewed coffee, an espresso, and a Gibraltar, placed side by side.
Almanegra serves a variety of roasters depending on what’s appealing at a given time, but always offers at least one national and one international option. For the gap between harvests, they use Finca Chelín from Oaxaca, because of its consistent quality and the company’s great storage ethic. Almanegra works hand in hand with the farm’s owner, Enrique Lopez, to produce coffee that’s later roasted by their main Mexican roaster, Querétaro’s Gas Up Master Coffee.
Almanegra has cultivated relationships with many roasters since their foundation, including Café Limón in Monterrey, Gas Up, and Impetus in Veracruz. Impetus works directly with producers from Veracruz, allowing them ample space to experiment with processing methods. They have made washed micro-lots with different lengths of fermentation, as well as natural and honey-processed coffees.
Almanegra also serves international coffees including those by 575, which exclusively makes natural coffees in Colombia. They’ve also used coffee from Bar Nine, Dragonfly Coffee Roasters, Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters, Verve Coffee Roasters, and Sospeso, a Mexican firm in Tijuana that sources international coffee.
For the owners from Almanegra, growing the reach of coffee culture is important. The La Roma location features a coffee library of sorts, full of coffee books and magazines like Standart, Drift, and Caffeine Magazine, which they also sell.
Although they only just expanded, there are already plans to open a third Almanegra in San Miguel de Allende, a beautiful and trendy colonial city in Guanajuato. Despite the more tourist-heavy location, expect the new Almanegra to have the same old soul as its predecessors.
Ximena Rubio is a coffee professional based in Mexico City. Read more Ximena Rubio on Sprudge.