People keep asking, “How did you come to live in Bolivia?” Or some, with a more questioning tone, “Why would you choose Bolivia?” OR “How did you come to own a café here in La Paz?” This may all seem a tad self-indulgent, nonetheless, it seems to be a story that many wish to hear. Many years ago I left Melbourne Australia in search of a new journey, a new story, a new history a new my-story! You may call it a mid-life crisis! It all started in Buenos Aires, where I lived for close to 8 months. My plan was to learn Spanish, but Buenos Aires is a party town subsequently my Spanish was shit! Since then I’ve travelled this broad long southern continent. From Panama through to the most southern tip of Argentina Ushuaia. I have seen most of everything. I lived in Patagonia for a period, a place that had a significant impact on my internal dialogue. For me, the things I thought were once important, are certainly are no longer important. When I got to Bolivia I worked as a mountain bike and motor cycle guide, I’ve been blessed to have seen more of Bolivia than most. Bolivia is just so purely unique! Bolivia is home to the hemisphere’s highest, most isolated and most rugged topographies. It’s among the earth’s coldest, warmest, windiest and steamiest spots. It boasts some of the driest, saltiest and swampiest natural landscapes in the world. Bolivia is the region’s poorest country and South America’s most indigenous country, with over 60% of the population claiming indigenous heritage. Bolivia has it all…except, that is, for beaches; if you love mountains this country boasts the most majestic rooftop in the world. It certainly has become a place I have grown a deep connection with. I now call it home.
The idea for this café was born from the time I was working with Gravity Downhill. As a mountain bike guide on The World’s Most Dangerous Road. Many tourists would ask ‘Why can’t you get a good coffee in Bolivia?”. The irony is that Bolivia has some of thebest café beans in the world. Over the years of guiding I met many international coffee buyers who’d join me on my tours down death road before they’d venture off into the jungles to meet with various coffee growers. They showed me the best places for the best harvest of beans. I could see a niche.
You see about 20 years ago I was a trained barista, working for an Italian coffee family who certainly knew coffee. Living in the heart of Melbourne’s café capital I like so many Melbournians had my favourite café houses.
I loved the culture they had adopted. Cafe Culture isn’t just good coffee, sure it’s the cornerstone that you built it on, but there is certainly more that contributes to the enjoyment. Set and setting, the ambience, the smells, the music, and the staff. All these are key ingredients to making a good coffee a great coffee or a great coffee an amazing coffee.
Here, at this high altitude, there are a few things we need to consider, boiling point of water, 86 degs, Celsius, and the lack of oxygen. Without the right equipment, or knowledge, you can’t extract the rich flavors you expect. To compensate for this environment, what we do here needs to be so much better. With the above in mind, we have carefully considered all the elements to deliver the best damn coffee you may ever taste. There are three important elements to making the perfect coffee.
ONE, The CAFÉ BEAN - Our Coffee Beans are locally sourced from Caranavi, Yungas Valley. An area well recognized as one of the world’s best regions for high altitude coffee bean production. We have a strong relationship with our café planation and roaster. Within hours of the beans freshly roasted we have them in our grinder. Few places in the world can deliver high quality high altitude plantation café beans this fresh! TWO, The EQUIPMENT - Not only are our beans the best, so too is our equipment. Our Italian made café grinder, our Italian made café machine are designed for these unique high altitude conditions. At this altitude we use 25% more beans per cup, we filter the water, we have high pressure boilers so the water can reach the optimum temperature for full flavor extraction. AND ……THREE, The BARISTAS - The method! We have been lucky enough to find some of Bolivia’s best Baristas. They are café artisans who take great pride in what they do.. If the correct method isn’t properly followed , it won’t matter how good your coffee beans are, you won’t experience the true flavor of the bean. Watch them work, you too will be fascinated by these magicians! I truly hope you enjoy your time here with us. If there is anything we can do to make your stay more enjoyable, please let us know, we will do whatever we can to help you. If you need any advice on travel options, I am more than happy to help you plan your next adventure. If you feel we have delivered an experience that others would like to share, please give us a review on TripAdvisor, or Google or better still both….
Welcome to Higher Ground…. Mark