Walking around the gritty streets of downtown Tijuana can be intimidating, if not outright nervewracking, but during the quiet mornings, when the city is still sleeping off last night’s debauchery, you get a very different impression of this hectic border town that is as much hell hole as it is Eureka.
For people working in the hospitality industry, Tijuana is one of Mexico’s most dynamic and unique cities. Straddling along the world’s busiest border crossing and heavily influenced by its Californian sibling San Diego, Tijuana offers a disproportionately high amount of artisan businesses, fine dining and outstanding street food that you’d otherwise expect to find in Mexico City.
One such business is Container Coffee Roasters, a local specialty coffee brand that has its home on Tijuana’s most notorious street Avenida Revolución. While the end closer to the border is full of peep shows, pharmacies and touts offering you everything under the night sky, this end is home to the city’s beautiful arthouse cinema Tonalá, many craft beer breweries, fashion boutiques and the only Tijuana coffee roastery to work with a Probat roaster.
The café is relatively small, offering only a handful of armchairs and tables inside and some patio seating outside while the indoor section is mostly dedicated to production and training. A large bar acts as a divider and the inward-facing espresso machine lays bare the work of every barista, something that has become more common practice across the world and is greatly appreciated by coffee lovers around the world because you can finally see how your espresso or flat white is actually prepared.
After travelling almost 1.600km by bus from Baja Califonia’s most southern point in Cabo San Lucas all the way to Tijuana, landing at Container Coffee Roasters that morning was a godsend and the first place where I ordered an espresso-based milk beverage without any concerns about what I might end up with.
Container Coffee Roasters originally started out as a café with a different name in a different location before head-roaster Ramon Aceves began to develop more of an interest in the roasting part of the business and started attending the national barista championships in Mexico City. As a consequence, Ramon and his colleagues also started competing and most recently founded Container Coffee Roasters to serve the local Tijuana area with carefully chosen and expertly roasted coffees.
One thing that I found really interesting about Container is that a few months ago, they removed the Americano from their menu to encourage people to proper filter coffee instead and the result has been great. According to Oscar Sandoval, who showed me around, Container Coffee Roasters serves the most filter coffees in Tijuana. Orale!