When I first arrived on the island, I stopped for a coffee in Los Cristianos. What I got was a builder’s type mug with a crack, filled with grey liquid. When I asked if they had freshly ground coffee the answer was no, and I was proudly shown a notice telling passers-by they served English tea and presumably English instant coffee. As I was not a tourist, they obviously did not want or need my business, they believed they could rely on the turnover of holidaymakers. This may have been true at one time but needless to say, said cafe like its broken mug no longer exists.
Over the years, I have tried plenty of cafes and I have found my favourites, sadly none British. It is not that I have gone native, I really would like to support my fellow countryman but I have yet to find one that gives me what I want. Good coffee at a reasonable price, nicely presented by friendly, polite staff. It does not seem a lot to ask from an establishment who purportedly offers this service. I know they are around in Las Americas, I just haven’t found one in Los Cristianos, but I am more than willing to sample the goods if anyone can point me in the right direction!
Unfortunately, just having a great location right on the waterfront is not enough, the days of putting all your eggs in one basket have long gone, as have many of the holidaymakers the island used to attract. Today’s tourist is a different creature – you know I am right, because you are one of them. You have high expectations, a more sophisticated palate, demand quality but still wants value for money. So just for you, I will let you into the secret of who is my favourite and who gets my dosh.
I invariably stop for a coffee when walking the dog along the front in Los Cristianos on an evening. I bypass the easy access places along the seafront that attract those wanting their beer or coffee with entertainment. I bypass the places that offer the full English all day breakfast at €2.99 or the 3-course meal for €7 with a free drink. It is indisputable that these places offer great value for money, for some they are the mainstay of their holiday. I do know a couple that I am more than happy to eat in, (subject for another blog) but generally if going for a meal I will head inland, similarly when choosing my coffee I head inland (relatively speaking) to the Cafe Mestizo half a dozen doors along from where my first coffee experience took place.
Whatever time of day you go there are always families, couples, and business people at the tables and while a few tourists can be found sipping a beer or sangria, they are always outnumbered. It has a relaxed, informal atmosphere, is just far enough off the tourist track not to get the attention of the looky looky men but still within a stone’s throw of the beach and harbour. The staff are friendly, they know their regulars by name, including the dog who they spoil by bringing her a bowl of water and enjoy feeding her doggy treats. The music is low, usually jazz, and non-intrusive and the coffee is good, so good that I have a regular order placed with them so that when I am getting low at home I buy a kilo rather than use the supermarket. Sylvia, one of the waitresses taught me how to make a barraquito without the layers running into each other and I will always be grateful to them for the time I had forgotten my wallet and they gave me a coffee for free rather than let me wander back to the car without my evening fix.
It is the little things that count that make a place special, that make me want to spend my few coppers at their establishment rather than another. It is a pleasure to visit the Mestizo, but keep it to yourself, I don´t want everyone to know my secret.