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Restaurant Review: The Coffee Road

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Peruvian specialty coffees are all the rage, and this coffee connoisseur could not be happier. Here in Lima, we have a bevy of coffee shops serving excellent coffee. And for quite awhile The Coffee Road has been showing up on “Top 5” lists that feature the best coffee shops in Lima, Peru. 

Interior (Photo: Maria Alejandra Baraybar/Traveling & Living in Peru)
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The Coffee Road opened in 2014 and quickly became popular. Almost four years ago, Traveling and Living in Peru featured an article on The Coffee Road when they were previously opened in their original, much smaller space in San Isidro. Now they reside in a much more spacious 300 meters (approx. 3,000 sq.ft.) locale across the street from their old space, which is ideal when you have steady customers that come from the nearby Universidad de Pacífico, residences and offices.

Interior decor (Photo: Maria Alejandra Baraybar/Traveling & Living in Peru)

Restaurant setting and decor

The decor at The Coffee Road is charming, with eclectic artwork and vintage touches (wheels, antique coffee contraptions, old license plates from different countries, etc.). You immediately feel comfy when you enter. You’ll probably notice the baristas preparing coffee, and if you walk farther into the restaurant, you find a variety of seating options with plenty of room for privacy if you wish.

Alejandro Chu is the owner of The Coffee Road. He is also a coffee barista, coffee enthusiast, and passionate about off-roading. Alejandro attended the Lima Cordon Bleu and participated in classes in restaurant management and some pastry and gastronomy after that. He was focused primarily on the specialization of coffee. Over the past several years, Alejandro and several of his friends have increased their coffee knowledge and techniques by continually educating themselves and practicing. They have also trained other people. Alejandro was involved with the openings of several good specialty coffee shops in Lima.  Along the way, he met people who were instrumental in expanding his coffee horizons such as Anibal Kovaleff (actual national barista champion). Alejandro met Anibal about 9 years ago and is currently his trainer to represent Peru at the World Barista Championship 2019. Alejandro also has competed in barista events as well as being a Sensory Judge at the national barista championship for the past few years. Every process along the way was important for Alejandro’s coffee knowledge. He learned from many sources, just not one. Many of his friends are also owners of specialty coffee shops and have become educators and teachers of coffee. Alejandro continues his education in coffee and is always learning. He is also hands-on and involved in coaching his 8-person staff at The Coffee Road. It’s obvious that coffee has been a labor of love for Alejandro.

Coffee prep (Photo: Maria Alejandra Baraybar/Traveling & Living in Peru)

The Coffee Road focuses on serving locally sourced Peruvian coffee from beans harvested in the fertile coffee regions. They are currently working with La Esmeralda, Inca Wasi in Cusco, and Ponderosa from Villa Rica in Pasco. They also occasionally change the coffees depending on the new crops. They typically work with a minimum of 2 regions, and a maximum of 4 regions. They are always eager to try new coffee crops. What they strive for with their coffee is a speciality 85+ points. The Coffee Road roasts and tastes the coffee beans themselves before choosing them to sell in their shop. They want their customers to taste different fresh coffees and that’s why they change up their coffees on a regular basis.

The Coffee Road is just one of the top vanguards of the “third wave” (speciality or craft coffee) coffee scene here in Lima.  They offer coffee prepared with the following machines/devices:  V60, Aeropress, Chemex, Yama Cold, French Press, Japanese Siphon, Fretta, Clever, and the Moka Italiana. Each preparation method creates a wide range of flavors using the same type of coffee beans. Their clever fold-out roadmap menu design highlights all of their coffee preparations along with explanations of each. 

The Coffee

We began with a flavorful, medium roast coffee and medium grind from Cusco called Finca La Esmeralda. Alejandro prepared our coffee using their Chemex. He wanted to demonstrate the aroma, body, and texture which increases with the Chemex. With the V60 method the coffee is more fruity, but with less body and aroma than the Chemex.

The cold brew that we sampled was also prepared using the Finca La Esmeralda, the same roast as all their brewing methods. Alejandro always looks for a fruity and sweetness profile of the coffee and the Yama Cold that they use works very well with this roast. Alejandro explained that doesn’t mean that they can’t make one with an espresso roast profile. The cold brew can last almost a week refrigerated because it is extracted with cold water. The oxidation is very different in comparison to when it’s extracted with hot water. The cold brew is popular at The Coffee Road and they have a very good rotation during the summer months. I enjoyed the extra touch of the cold marbles in the glass of our cold brew. The marbles keep the coffee cold without diluting it.

One of the table favorites was the Latte Helado (S/. 12), served in a large mason jar with a stainless steel straw. The Coffee Road uses double espresso (doppio) and regular pasteurized milk. This is something I would definitely drink every day during the summer months here.

Stumpy (Photo: Maria Alejandra Baraybar/Traveling & Living in Peru)

My personal favorite was the Stumpy (S/. 7), They used the coffee from Finca Ponderosa, Villa Rica by Wilfredo Vidurrizaga, who is a good friend of The Coffee Road. According to Alejandro, the Stumpy was “created”/”invented” in San Francisco by a barista. He wanted something between a cappuccino and cortado, something more balanced and sweet; not too hot and elegant. It was first served in a Duralex glass. Some baristas say it is made of double ristretto, but at The Coffee Road, they opt for a single ristretto (concentrated short shot of espresso which is more full-bodied and less bitter) along with milk. Many coffee shops serve the Stumpy which is basically a variation of proportions between coffee and milk. This may be one of my new favorite coffee beverages since I occasionally enjoy milk in my coffee and it was just a perfect tinge of sweetness. No added sugar necessary.

Mate con Flores (Photo: Maria Alejandra Baraybar/Traveling & Living in Peru)

If you are interested in something totally different, I would suggest their Matcha Latte (S/. 9). Matcha is a powder that is created with stone-ground green tea leaves. This antioxidant-rich matcha latte is an herbal alternative option to coffee. I found it to be subtle, lightly sweetened, frothy and lightly creamy and one of the better versions I have tried recently. Another wonderful herbal alternative we sampled the day of our visit was their Mate con flores (S/. 8).

The Food

Besides all the beverages, The Coffee Road offers a limited, yet satisfying selection of snacks, sandwiches and sweet treats. We began with their Enrollado de hummus (S/. 15), which included two warm wraps filled with hummus, avocado, and sliced tomatoes. This is an ideal snack if you want something not too filling, but relatively healthy.

Hamburguesa Doble Tracción (Photo: Maria Alejandra Baraybar/Traveling & Living in Peru)

Their Hamburguesa Doble Tracción (S/. 20), was a surprise. The flavor of this double cheeseburger was excellent. We were told the ground meat was a mix of cuts, all from veal. It has some fat, but not too greasy. They wanted something that tastes homemade. It actually reminded me of burgers I ate on a regular basis at my German friend’s bar in the U.S. Very artisanal and delicious.

The Dessert

We sampled three desserts. I was very pleasantly surprised. The Volcán de chocolate (S/. 17) was decadent and delicious. This flourless chocolate cake was served warm. When you cut into it a bit of molten flowing chocolate escaped. It was served with a scoop of delicious homemade mascarpone and berries ice cream, which totally complemented the cake. The cake takes 20 minutes, so plan ahead if you order this.

Pie de Limón (Photo: Maria Alejandra Baraybar/Traveling & Living in Peru)

The Pie de Limón (S/. 8) was tart and creamy, but not overly sweet how I find many to be. This was very satisfying.

The Cheesecake NY (S/. 12) was a pleasant surprise. It was creamy and they did not skimp on the cream cheese. This cheesecake would benefit with a crunchier crust base for contrast and texture rather than the soft and somewhat soggy vanilla cookie base they use. The cheesecake was served with a strawberry coulis.

In the near future, The Coffee Road will be offering coffee classes. They have a coffee lab room with space available for this on their premises. They also sell coffee that they have roasted as well as various coffee equipment.

I am looking forward to returning soon to The Coffee Road. Thank you to the hospitality of Alejandro Chu and his friendly and talented staff.

The Coffee Road

Av. Guillermo Prescott 365, San Isidro

Phone: 637-2028

Limited parking in front

Hours:  Monday-Friday:  7:30 a.m.-10:00 p.m.

           Saturday: 9:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.

           Sunday & Holidays:  2:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Capacity:  approximately 73 people
thecoffeeroad1@gmail.com
Instagram

Coffee Beverages:  S/. 6-16
Cold Coffee Beverages:  S/. 12-15
Artisanal coffee:  S/. 8-18
Breakfast combos (until noon):  S/. 20-22
Quiches/Pastels:  S/. 8-15
Sandwiches/Snacks:  S/. 8-20
Desserts:  S/. 5-17
Infusions/Teas:  S/. 8-9
Cold Infusions/Teas:  S/. 12-13
Juices:  S/. 11
Artisanal beer:  S/. 15-30
Other beverages:  S/. 5-10

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Sheila was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She spent several years in Denver, Colorado at Regis University and lived eleven years in Fort Lauderdale, Florida before moving with her Peruvian husband to live full-time in Peru in 2007. An epicurean at heart, Sheila first became inspired about food and cooking through the fantastic cooks in her Danish family. In her free time, Sheila is a volunteer at an orphanage, is involved in sports, including tennis and spinning, and loves exploring Peru’s incredible cuisine.