Skilled baristas with almost scientific-like precision on flavor profiles are what one should expect at the impressive Colonia & Co. café.
Coffee is a big part of many of our lives. I personally did not acquire the taste for drinking coffee until I was about 25 years of age and back then I was just looking for the extra dose of energy I needed to work. Over 25 years later, I am now much more passionate about coffee and appreciate it for much more than just for that extra “jolt”.
I am a borderline coffee connoisseur.
I believe living in Peru the past 10 years has exposed me to some of the best coffee in the world. I have not become a coffee snob, but I truly appreciate excellent coffee. In my own home, I use Peruvian organic coffee and use my cafetera contraption I bought years ago in the Mercado Callao to prepare “cafe pasado”. Other times I will use my French press or my mini stovetop espresso maker. But, when I go out to enjoy coffee I really want to spoil myself. There is a multitude of cafes and coffee houses all over Lima, but especially more concentrated in the Miraflores and Barranco areas. One of the more recent cafes to emerge in Barranco in the past year is Colonia & Co.
Colonia & Co. takes great pride in their espresso bar and coffees and that is reflected in the quality of their beans and beverages, equipment and by their coffee baristas.
Slayer (Photo: AmaraPhotos)
A large majority of the beverages prepared at Colonia involve espresso. All espresso-based coffees are prepared primarily with their Slayer, the revolutionary, Seattle-based designers of handmade, custom espresso machines which are gorgeous with majestic wooden accents. Slayer is the gateway to flavor profiling and has a patented flow control, enabled by a precision needle valve which gives the ability to manipulate and transform the flavor of espresso in the hands of professional baristas. Slayer has patented methods for preparing espresso and steaming milk. Between the volumetric extraction and the superheated steam to the efficient and flexible bar flow, the Slayer helps baristas produce great drinks at great speeds.
Colonia has a couple of very talented coffee baristas on their premises.
Barista Rafael Pascuale (Photo: AmaraPhotos)
Rafael Pascuale (coffee barista/artist) has been working as a coffee barista for the past four years, previously at Cafe Verde and currently at Colonia. For the past few months, I have been a regular customer at Colonia. I typically chat with Rafael, who has broadened both my knowledge of coffee as well as my coffee beverages. The personal roaster for Colonia and fellow afternoon coffee barista is Gonzalo Escudero, who has several years of experience. Gonzalo also prepares a special light roast only for Colonia because no other espresso machine can handle it except for the Slayer. Gonzalo sells darker coffee roasts to other cafes in the Lima area as well.
The day of our official visit, I spent quite a bit of time with Rafael learning about the many processes of how to prepare coffee and the techniques involved with the Slayer machine. Rafael explained calibration, the grind, weight, extraction, how oxygen and acidity act together, pouring methods, etc. All of the coffee beverages are prepared based on weight and a scale is used every single time. Colonia uses both “natural” and “washed” (lavado) Peruvian coffee beans. Espressos typically take approximately 1 minute and pour-overs take between 2.5 to 4 minutes.
The Slayer allows the baristas to enhance, subdue and manipulate flavor profiles. The level of skill of the barista as well as their intuition is mandatory to understand the subtle nuances of what they are striving for in a flavor profile. When an extraction occurs, the barista is manipulating the pressure and looking for a particular flow rate, color and appropriate volume within approximately a 25-second period. I came to the conclusion that the barista is part artist and part scientist. It was great to see Rafael in action and observe his perfectionism and passion. The entire espresso bar area is pristine and well organized which is also extremely important.
Matcha latte (Photo: AmaraPhotos)
Colonia’s espresso bar offers espresso, macchiato, cortado, americano, cappuccino, flat white, latte, and mocha. Their hot chocolate that uses Cacaosuyo dark chocolate is excellent and a great option for those that don’t drink or desire coffee. I have also seen the occasional matcha latte ordered as well. They use regular whole milk as well as lactose-free milk. And for a few extra soles, coconut milk is available. The Kalita pour over drip coffee is also available which maximizes evenness in coffee extraction and is well-balanced. There are several cold brewed (anywhere between 9-24 hours) coffee options as well as iced cappuccino and iced latte on their menu.
Colonia also serves some unique and delicious specialty coffee beverages. We sampled two specialty beverages the day of our visit. The Orange Brew (S/. 10), incorporated a 12+ hour cold-brewed coffee along with fresh orange juice with an added touch of honey. The glass was first filled with a few cubes of ice along with some fresh orange juice and then a 3-ounce shot of coffee is added to that. The final touch was the addition of rubbing the rim of the glass with orange peel and adding the peel to the beverage for decoration. With every sip of this concoction, you get the perfect hint of orange flavor with the orange-infused beverage. This was a surprisingly nice change of pace from the typical coffee choices. Great option for the summer months as well, but I would drink it any time of the year.
Plum-tastico (Photo: AmaraPhotos)
One of Colonia’s brand new coffee “ inventions” is their Plum-tastico (S/. 15) a delightful beverage composed of a plum reduction prepared with white wine and a shot of espresso along with ice prepared in a cocktail shaker and served in beautiful vintage glasses. The final touch is a bit more of the plum reduction added on top. This beverage had a nice balance of flavors and our non-coffee drinker actually enjoyed it as well. Their Blue Velvet (S/. 14) incorporates espresso, blueberries and whipping cream. And the wonderfully named, Morning Hug, (S/. 12), which uses espresso along with two different textures of milk (compacted and thick and then airy at the end). If you enjoy milk with your espresso this is a lovely extra-special beverage.
For those who are not coffee lovers, you may prefer one of their 100% natural teas and infusions which all come from the Te Quiero Te Tea Shop. There are 3 teas and 2 infusions currently available. The green and black teas are caffeinated. My personal favorite, the South African herbal tea, Rooibos, is without caffeine. I order this herbal tea on a regular basis when I’m not in the mood for coffee. The Rooibos has a perfect added touch of marzipan. All teas and infusions are served in individual ceramic teapots which contain 3 grams of loose tea (in environmentally-friendly paper tea bags) in 300 ml. of water.
Colonia & Co. is the perfect, friendly cafe to enjoy a quiet conversation with a friend, get some work done on your laptop, read a book or perhaps even a small get-together or for an intimate book club meeting as well as treat yourself to an excellent coffee experience.
Stay tuned in the very near future for our review on the food options at Colonia & Co.
Colonia & Co.
Prolongacion Av. San Martin 131
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Espresso Bar: S/. 7-14
Drip Coffee: S/.10
Cold Coffee Beverages: S/. 6-15
Teas/Infusions: S/. 10