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Nicholas Gilman is a renowned journalist and food writer based in Mexico City.

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 Raku: Zen and the Art of Café

Raku: Zen and the Art of Café

For those who love great coffee, an unassuming yet important hole-in-the-wall has opened in colonia Roma. Raku, which means ‘joy’ in Japanese, is a tiny artisan café offering coffee prepared in a handful of styles, from espresso to cold brew, each cup made individually with precise and loving attention to detail. In addition, there is whisked matcha from Kyoto, Earl Grey from France, a plate or two of baked goods and nothing else.

It’s all about quality and it all about its proprietor and sole employee, Mauricio Zubirats. He is a trained chef with an impressive curriculum in Mexico and beyond, especially Japan where he lived and worked at the much lauded kaiseki restaurant Ryugin—Japanese aesthetic imbues all aspects of the shop.

 Mauricio Zubirats, zen barrista

Mauricio Zubirats, zen barrista

Toiling for years in large kitchens, Mauricio recently decided to change his life. “I was burned out on my last job as private chef,” he reflects from behind the clean wooden counter in his spartan shop; “… if I kept cooking I would hate what I do. Sometimes you have to know when to step back.” So he did just that following his dream—to open a café, “something focused. I always loved coffee and I wanted to narrow it down to one main ingredient. So I began with this basic idea of having a Nespresso machine with capsules then graduated to a more elaborate concept of preparing coffees by hand in an artisanal form.”

The space, designed by the owner, is compact, Japanese aesthetic much in evidence. It comprises a simple blond wood counter separating kitchen from public space and three tree trunk seats, nothing more. “I tried to evoke a  traditional Japanese teahouse where the guest is most important, not the business. It’s a concept that came from the heart not from the ego.”

 a coffee with heart at Raku

a coffee with heart at Raku

Beans used for espresso are provided by Buna, a Mexican distributor that works to support small producers.  For the single origins Mauricio utilizes international beans, sometimes from Ethiopia, New Guinea, Chiapas, Guerrero, Veracruz, “it doesn’t matter, it’s about having good coffee.” Raku, whose prices compete favorably with the big chains, already attracts a faithful returning clientele, who are willing to wait for a great cup.  “I studied the tea ceremony in Japan and I try to apply that aesthetic to every thing I do,” the chef points out as a measured cup of coffee slowly drips to perfection.

Raku Café
Sinaloa 188, Colonia Roma Norte, see map.
Open Monday – Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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