coffee shop days brings the coolest, most stylish coffee shops in South America to travellers searching for the perfect spot to enjoy a caffeine hit.
Take the time to leave the hub around Parque Kennedy, and you will find the gem of the Lima's Miraflores district. On a nondescript street which houses mechanics and metal workshops, El Pan de la Chola is home to something special.
Several years ago, 'Chola's bread' was just one man in his kitchen discovering his true passion, baking bread for friends and family. Today, it is a tremendously popular coffee shop at the forefront of explaining why Lima is drawing back those who have left and more young creative people are choosing to remain.
We joined the diverse crowd of lunching businessmen. well-heeled families, groups of Peruvian hipsters and fashionistas, plus the odd tourist, to enjoy one of Lima's most important culinary establishments.
Passion and respect for the raw ingredients are the principles underlying the menu at Chola's.
A perfectly ripe avocado with a coarse sprinkling of freshly ground rock salt and cracked pepper, a ceramic bowl of Peruvian olive oil and just baked sour dough bread. The focus on simplicity in the preparation and presentation is intentional, allowing the painstakingly and locally sourced ingredients to speak for themselves.
Of course, it is the bread that steals the show.
Always served warm, crisp and fresh, it is composed of only three ingredients - water, flour and starter - and is the reason that Chola's even exists. From humble beginnings in his own kitchen five years, Jonathan (Chola's real name) and his team now make 200 loaves a weekday, up to 700 on a Saturday. From the light olive oil rich focaccia, to the crusty rustic loaf, or our personal favourite the dense sour dough, it is difficult to say if we've ever tasted bread this good.
In fact, we can't remember tasting bread quite like this ever before.
The tostadas are ideal to share, showcasing your choice of bread alongside simple pleasures such as avocado, hummus or marmalade and butter. Those preferring a sandwich have the option of a number of fresh, wholesome fillings - a significant number of which are vegetarian or vegan - including delights such as home-made pesto, goats cheese or in-house dried sweet tomatoes.
Chola's efforts to source and create such clean, natural and deliciously honest food is refreshing. With so much modern day produce packed with sugar and additives, even when proclaiming itself to be healthy or artisan, the authentic natural flavours on offer at El Pan de Chola are a beautiful reminder of how good raw ingredients can be when simply and carefully brought together. Jonathan's devotion to this craft and passion and respect for the qualities of each ingredient is a key theme throughout the menu.
It was a revelation to us to realise the extent of produce grown throughout Peru; the grains, the olives, the cheeses, the tomatoes. Everything that can be bought locally will be bought and everything that can be made in-house will be made. Jonathan even grinds the grains for the bread every morning with his own two hands.
Created daily by the in-house pastry chef, El Pan also has an extensive range of cookies, cakes and pastries or a wickedly indulgent chocolate brownie.
For those in need of a caffeine kick Chola's offers a menu of coffee staples including cappuccino, latte and macchiato. all of which are made with the finest Peruvian coffee beans. These beans are even roasted nearby in Lima. A selection of teas, craft beers and wines are also available.
With the focus firmly on health and natural goodness, Chola's also offer a number of made to order extractos in red, green and orange. Containing only raw fruit and vegetables, the vivid colours reflect the fresh ingredients within each jam-jar container and offer a reminder that 'healthy' can also mean 'delicious'.
With a nod to the philosophy at the heart of Jonathan's vision, the decor in Chola has taken ingredients from its natural surroundings and elegantly improved them.
Distressed wood and metal, left behind by the mechanics who previously rented the space, has been refurnished into seats and tables. These and other reclaimed or vintage pieces are partnered with crisp white walls, open lighting and and brushed chrome features to give the coffee shop a minimalist modern industrial appearance.
A real stand-out is the open kitchen and bakery. Most mornings, you will find Jonathan and his team mixing, rolling, kneading and slicing in full view; just as the food served in Chola doesn't mask its origins, neither does the team creating it.
And, as with any coffee shop worth its hipster salt, jam jars have been recycled into juice receptacles and all food is beautifully presented on on chunky chopping boards; the entire place is an Instragrammer's dream!
what we drank
| latte brewed with peruvian grown and roastedcoffee
| capuccino with peruvian grown and roasted coffee and chocolate
| freshly blended juice of beetroot, pear, watercress, lemon and berries
what we ate
| fresh sourdough bread, olive oil and avocado with cracked black pepper and rock salt
| goat's cheese, sun-dried tomato and rocket sandwich with warm artisanal bread, made and baked in Chola's
| carrot cake
el pan de la chola: location and social media
About 10 minutes walk from Parque Kennedy, El Pan de la Chola is located on Av. La Mar 918 in Miraflores.
Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday 8 a.m - 10 p.m, Sunday 9 a.m a 6 p.m.
On weekends, expect there to be larger crowds and perhaps a wait for a table.
Coffee and food was kindly provided by El Pan de la Chola but all opinions, photography and spelling mistakes are our own.
All photography is property of Along Dusty Roads and must not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without our prior permission.