Colombian mothers are known to scold careless kids saying, “do it right or don’t do it at all.” Bogota’s budding drink purveyors are evidence that the reproof was well received. In recent year, baristas, bartenders and brewers have emerged with an increased attention to origin, preparation and presentation that makes for a sipping experience that is tasty and delightful.
These new-wave establishments—from coffee shops to cocktail dens—have innovative menus, attentive service and handsome design that will make you want to linger.
Before third-wave coffee houses hit the scene, Colombians were known to enjoy their cafécitos for the experience, more than taste. Bitter blends were concealed with milk and sugar or served black and weak.
Then places like Azahar came along offering ethically sourced, carefully roasted products from the beans the country grows best. Launched as an exporter, the pioneering brand opened its first shop in a shipping container before moving into a bright, plant-filled space down the road in August.
The indoor-outdoor design is cool; but it’s the single-origin coffees—served unflavored to extol the terroir of its native lot—that keep Bogota’s who’s who coming back.
Jamie Raúl Duque intentionally chose his locale on a residential strip just outside the hustle-and-bustle of the Usaquen neighborhood to facilitate education at Catación Pública.
Aspiring baristas from around the world come here for the courses that range from a couple hours to a few days and cover everything from grinding to tasting to perfecting temperature.
Walk-in guests can also expect to learn: Staffers guide everyone through coffee selection, preparation, and the house specialty—tastings.
Varietale, Tienda de Café
Housed in an old convent and designed to look like a classic finca, Varietale exalts the rustic origins of Colombian coffee through its menu of three roasts served nine ways and a decor that includes burlap bags, small coffee trees and machinery stationed throughout the space to encourage visitors to stop and learn. Run by two brothers with a love for all things roasting, Varietale also hosts educational workshops on the weekend.
Huerta Bar Coctelería Artesanal
One of the newest additions to the up-and-coming culinary enclave Quinta Camacho, Huerta is redefining the craft cocktail experience with its lineup of 40-plus original libations made using more than 700 plants grown in-house and inspired by teams’ memories.
Beyond the top-shelf spirits and hyper-local concoctions, you’ll also find a menu of small plates built to complement the drinks. Repurposed wooden tables, collected decor, and pink neon lighting complete the vibe.
A gorgeous, U-shaped, marble bar takes up half the space in this culinary gem opened by the Temaki group (empire includes Cacio & Pepe, Osaki, and 80 sillas).
Diners go for the raw bar—a relatively novel concept when Black Bear opened in 2014—and glass-encased leafy setting, but stay for the creative cocktail list and curated wine selection. If you end up enjoying one too many, take advantage of the bar’s designated driver service.
Bogota Beer Company
They call themselves the smallest, biggest brewery in Colombia—and though Bogota Beer Company’s presence has certainly expanded in its 15 years, that hasn’t weakened the brand’s commitment to small-batch brewing or the locals’ love for what they do.
In addition to the 26 pub-style tasting rooms (including a few outside the city), a factory where tours are held, and dozens of authorized retailers, the brewery also has roving operations that serve up a rotation of BBC’s beloved brews at markets and festivals .
Opened by a San Francisco transplant, Cervecería Gigante is located in an inconspicuous spot, which means it draws a mostly local crowd. The atmosphere is convivial and laid-back with live music playing most nights and modest pricing for its small, but mighty selection of handcrafted beers.
Taller del Té
This peace-inducing tea house takes advantage of the plethora of native herbs and flowers to create blends that offer a myriad of healing benefits and are super tasty to boot. Taller del Té’s owner sources tea leaves from small plantations around the globe to create new infusions using plants foraged from nearby farms.
Oh My Juice!
As one of the most eco-diverse country’s in the world, Colombia’s agricultural riches are vast; so you’d be wise to cash in on its bounty through Bogota’s juice bars.
Oh My Juice encourages guests to “sin daily” with its sweet, but healthy smoothies and fruit shakes blended with usual suspects—like pineapple, strawberries and banana—and others you’re likely to only find in South America, like feijoa.