Drink This Now: The CDMX Smog at Café Ollama

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A CDMX Smog at Café Ollama. // Photo by April Fleming

There is a lot to be happy about if you are a coffee drinker in Kansas City right now. Despite the pandemic, several brand-new shops have opened even in the past few months, many of them great. There are so many, even, that it’s difficult to stand apart from the highly caffeinated pack, as all of those flat whites, lattes, and house roasts become more or less indistinguishable. But Lesley Reyes has managed it with Café Ollama, turning a storefront on Southwest Boulevard into a warm, homey environment.

The menu at Café Ollama is inspired by traditional Mexican beverages, including the wonderful Café de Olla. Café de Olla is coffee brewed slowly in a clay pot with cinnamon, cloves, anise, and piloncillo, which Reyes sources directly from Mexico. A critical element is that piloncillo, which is a type of unrefined raw cane sugar easily mistaken for brown sugar, but with a much punchier sweetness. (Brown sugar in the U.S. is actually refined white sugar plus molasses. Weird.) Sweet, aromatic, and complex, Café de Olla is good on its own and you should try it.

But Reyes does the already-good coffee concoction one better—she features the Café de Olla in a specialty drink called the CDMX Smog (Mexico City Smog). It’s made with té de manzanilla (chamomile tea), Café de Olla, and an orange slice(!), all topped with salted sweet foam that is dusted with cinnamon sugar. 

It’s irresistibly fragrant, with the cinnamon and spices noticeable long before you sip. When combined with the syrupy hallmark of piloncillo and the citrus that somehow works, this drink is pure comfort and feels like home. This is the fall drink you should have—well-conceived, balanced, and interesting, a surefire antidote to the gourd-related coffee drink we’ll officially never need to discuss again.

Categories: Food & Drink