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I love coffee shops. Losing hours while sitting at a cafe with my computer or chatting away with one of the amazing people who make up my life… it’s one of my happy places. I’d say finding coffee shops and planting my butt in a hopefully comfy or cool seat, is a fun, guilty pleasure of mine. I am highly aware of how skipping the coffee shop is always #1 on the list of the “how to save $1000 a year” blogs, but I don’t care. It makes me happy.

And for me, when I talk about coffee shops, the more eclectic, randomly put together, artistic, small, funky… the better. Paintings, photography, murals. Distint / non-uniform types of mugs, colorful, with sayings, different shapes – drinking my coffee out of a fun mug is a little added pleasure. Here in Chile, I infrequently get this indulgence, as places veer towards standard white mugs. Also, it’s important to note that here, the coffees are small. I am a very typical gringa in the way that I love big coffees and I love walking down the street with a coffee in my hand. But here, typically the coffee is in a little tea cup. Boo.

That is why, even though Starbucks doesn’t fit my “ambiance” preference, sometimes when I’m a little homesick, or I just want a darn 20 oz cup, Starbucks is everything I want and need.

That said, here’s some of my best Santiago finds:

  1. Wonderland
    I was walking down a side street of Lastarria and out of the corner of my eye, I saw these planters and signs with brightly colored chalk writing. Hmmm, it peaked my interest. I walked in and it was so cozy and exactly my style. Plants. Old fashioned furniture. A vibe of funky creativity. Lots of wood. Jackpot! Delicious coffee and a small menu of healthy, from scratch foods. My friend and I went for lunch and had the perfect day having our first eggs benedict in over 5 years (not a common menu item in Chile), fresh squeezed juice and great coffee.
  2. Cafe Ines
    So, as I was writing this, I was talking to a friend who has a similiar style to my own, and she said to me “haven’t you been to Cafe Ines?!” and I hurrily packed up my computer from the cafe where I was and headed over, eagerly awaiting what I’d find. All she said was that it’s a big, old house and it sounded right up my alley. I got there and fell in looooooove. Tall, detailed ceilings, big paintings on all the walls, comfy furniture, benches, colorful paint…. all inside this big, original architecture building with a barber shop, little fashion stores, and this amazing cafe. It was all I wanted and more. I’m here right now, and I can’t wait to come back.
  3. Cafetin
    Now this place is quite hoppin’, with a lot of cool restaurants and bars popping up in the trendy area of Isidora Goyenechea, but when I first found it, there wasn’t so much there. They’ve got a great patio for summer and springtime, but the inside is so cozy that sometimes I choose it anyways. There’s a long wood bench with colorful and distinct throw pillows for you to sit on, with small tables sparced along it. In the other room, it’s small wood tables, very “warm” and ideal for computer work.
  4. Colmado
    Typical story, walking and looking for a spot to work on my computer, I saw a building with a little courtyard on the inside. Hmm, what’s inside? Well, to my lovely surprise, there were quite a few little local businesses inside – a barber, a pet groomer, and three cafes! All were nice, but the one on the right was smaller, to grab, sit a few minutes, and go. Colmado, on the other hand, was just what I needed in the moment. Tall tables, modern style, experts in different brewing techiques (chemex, aeropress, french press, you name it), dark wood pillars…. and the added plus of beer and wine!! Immediately, I knew I’d be back here. This place serves all my chatting and working purposes.
  5. Forastero
    Cute, small little place in Barrio Brasil. Not overly “cool” but it has it’s uniqueness. Also, they are super friendly, experts in coffee, perfectly brewed coffee however you want it – all the techniques available for your choosing. The first time I went, I went alone and chatted with the workers and just sat, reflecting on things. The smallness makes it a nice place for that 🙂 Oh yes, and important detail, they have bagels.
  6. Fix
    A little hole in the wall cafe, literally. You’re walking down the busiest street in Santiago with a bunch of uniform business buildings, chain bakeries, “caracoles” which is the word here for a building with a bunch of tiny one room stores. Then, out of nowhere, there’s a space between buildings and sign and plant outside that makes you do a double take, a stark contrast. It’s a tiny little place meant more for a grab-n-go, but there’s a couple tall stools so you could sit for a little bit as your meandering on with your day. It’s a modern feel with light wood counters, black metal framed windows and chairs, and really well done coffee.
  7. La Maison
    Okay, this one, similiar to Wonderland, is just hands down, one of my favorites. On one hand, it’s in Barrio Brasil, which is full of little hole in the wall wonders. Two, from the outside, it’s a crafty one story green building with a mural and some plants outside. It’s really easy to walk by and not notice, considering that is the typical description of a building/house in this neighborhood. But, you walk in, and it’s a cozy, put-together of random pieces of furniture, all wood so very “warm”, and an awesome terrace outside with latin style, ceramic floor, old furniture that somehow just works so well, and usually this cat sprawled out on some plant or in a corner. The ambiance is my “chillin” style, ideal for hours of conversations and relaxingly enjoying tea, coffee, and their hands-down everything is mouthwateringly delicious food. I go on the weekends when there’s around 5-6 plate options. A salad, a quiche, some sort of homemade pasta (literally, the noodles/gnochis are homemade too), and other home-cooking things. All whole ingredients, from scratch, the kind of food that makes your body happy. And, oh, I can’t even get started with the sweets, which when everything is so damn good, it’s hard to say they have a specialty… but their sweets are out of this world. I’m not even so much a sweets person, and I can’t not order things here. Everyone in Santiago needs to do themselves a favor and go to this place.
  8. Leerte
    This little corner always called my attention … it was such a little nook, with nice seating outside, like a little oasis in the middle of the city. There’s two coffee shops on both ends of the corner, but I like the look of this one, with the wall of books, the colorful chairs, the book stand, the benches. Plus, the waiters are always so nice and they’ve got a small menu of sandwiches, salads, one “plate of the day”, fresh squeezed and blended juices, coffee, tea.
  9. Dan’s Coffee
    This little place is another hidden gem, such friendly owners and coffee knowledge through the roof. Small little spot only open during working hours, so it’s great for passing through and a “take a minute for yourself” relaxation. And, they do coffee connoisseur classes, which I would love to do.

There are many nice ones on Avenida Italia and in Bellas Artes, which I frequent regularly, but I like to find the ones off the beaten path. I’m always on the lookout for new ones, so here are some of my favs for my personal work or reflection times, journaling times, reading times, or my beloved lax-a-daisy chatting away moments. There’s nothing getting lost in like the sounds and the smells of coffee shop ambiance.