Hugging the perpetually green eastern cordillera that borders Bogotá, Usaquén is like a small town within a huge city. (In fact, it was a separate municipality until being annexed in 1954.) Halfway up a Usaquén street packed with restaurants and cafés—this is one of Bogotá’s most important restaurant areas, after all—you’ll see it: the black-and-white sign with the Amor Perfecto heart logo. Colombia’s largest specialty coffee distributor, Amor Perfecto supplies hundreds of restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops around the country. Now they’ve opened a new shop, where the love theme continues; underneath the logo are the words unión libre (free union). However, the enduring union here is based purely on food—this cafe has an ice cream shop tucked inside that joins coffee love with ice cream love.
Usaquén’s colonial style is continued inside, where carefully restored dark wood beams and white stucco walls give the impression that things haven’t changed much over the past few hundred years. In a land of cramped specialty coffee shops, this cafe goes the other way. Here you have room to breathe, and you can make yourself at home on the long black couches and spacious chairs.
The shop starts with ice cream; as you walk in, a small production area is to the left and an ice cream display case is to the right. The 17 flavors of ice cream put tropical fruit in the limelight. Get exotic tastes like mango, lulo, maracuyá, and sapote in frozen form. Of course, there’s coffee ice cream too, made with Amor Perfecto espresso. It's always a good day when you can follow up your specialty coffee with a specialty coffee ice cream.
The coffee bar is smack in the center of the long shop. Images of coffee farmers working on green, rolling hills crowd the walls. Nearby, one whole wall is filled with maps of Colombia that busily highlight more than 20 coffee-growing regions. North, south, east or west, coffee is everywhere around the country, so it can be hard to keep them all straight (wait, where is Huila again?). As you listen to the baristas talk about those regions—Nariño, Tolima, Santander—it’s handy to consult the maps.
The coffee bags lining the shelves give credit where it’s due—they’re marked with the names of both farmers and their farms. They offer detailed descriptions of growing conditions and what you’ll find in the cup. In addition to Amor Perfecto's standard blend, a constantly rotating selection of coffees from carefully chosen farms provide everything from chocolate notes to fruity experiences, all with the vibrant acidity that Colombian coffee is known for.
The baristas happily talk about coffee-growing regions, varieties, and altitudes while they serve up an espresso, macchiato or cappuccino via a La Marzocco Strada MP machine. Or go with a manual brew: AeroPress, Chemex, V60, or French press.
For anyone who wants to discover this country that is just beginning to explore its potential in roasting specialty coffees, Amor Perfecto has distinguished itself time and again as an essential starting point. So don’t be surprised when you find that the perfect love you’ve been looking for is hidden in a coffee cup with a red heart emblazoned on it.
Karen Attman is a freelance journalist based in Colombia. This is Karen Attman's first feature for Sprudge.