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What came first? Happiness or coffee? Some say they are not themselves until they’ve had a cup in the morning ☕ .
“Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee”! What I know for sure is that coffee is a big part of any culture. It’s a daily ritual, a little break, and a point of pride amongst those who drink it black with no sugar or cream. How do you take your coffee?
Like most of the world, coffee is an integral part of daily life in Aruba. Aside from the popular coffee spots you know from home, Aruba has a few local gems for your daily cup of bean juice. The coffee spots mentioned in this blog post are all owned by local entrepreneurs, both young and experienced. Aside from having excellent coffee, they are all very unique and instagrammable! Are you a to-go person or prefer to sit and enjoy coffee in a warm porcelain cup with a pastry on the side? Whatever your preference, Aruba has many options to choose from! Have a read below to find your next favorite Aruban coffee spot.
Our first contender is Santos Coffee with Soul, founded in 2017. Inspired by a trip to Japan, founder Stefan created this modern, rustic take on a coffee shop. The wood details complimented by black steel windows and ambient string lights make Santos industrial chique. Branding is essential here, folks! The smiling servers wear leather aprons over their grey polo shirts as they bring you a pitcher of cool mint water. Everything is well thought out. Excellent aesthetics aside, we need to get to the real reason you’re here: the coffee and food!
On the hunt for the perfect coffee, Stefan took many trips to Colombia to find the perfect bean and blend. When he returned to Aruba with his unique beans, the coffee didn’t taste the same. Stefan had a hunch that it was because of the difference in water quality. He returned to Colombia to try again, this time with high-quality, crisp Aruban water in hand. As you know, Aruba has excellent water straight out of the tap. He was right! Santos coffee was born. Colombian coffee beans with Aruban water!
Are you getting excited to try it for yourself? Have your coffee the way you like it. They do it all. The cappuccino was amazingly delicious and creamy. Not a coffee person? They have pretty much anything else you can imagine, all homemade. The refreshing strawberry lemonade paired with avocado toast is highly recommended. Dessert is also very high on their bestseller list. The chocolate milkshake with a side of marble cake is, with the risk of sounding cheesy, to-die-for! Don’t worry about all the calories… You can wash them all down with fresh fruit smoothies when you're done. *wink wink*
What was most surprising about Santos was how happy all the servers were. Stefan’s tip to all entrepreneurs is: “treat your servers as people, not employees, and they’ll be happy.” For me, as the name says, it really did feel like coffee with soul.
Fun fact: Santos is named after Stefan’s wife, whose last name is Dos-Santos.
Coffee spots can be found all around the island. Some can be spotted from afar, while some, like Aru-bean Coffeehouse, are truly hidden local gems. Since founded by Natalia and her husband in 2020, Aru-bean has become a local favorite. On a trip with friends, Natalia noticed that coffee breaks brought everyone closer together. It was a time when they would sit and catch up. Finding a relaxing place to do so in Aruba wasn’t easy. The popular coffee shops had more of a quick-stop vibe. You can guess what happens next. Aru-bean was Natalia’s way of creating what she was missing here on the island. A cozy, relaxing coffee spot where friends can meet and share a nice moment.
From there, Natalia’s passion for serving customers grew. She taught herself how to bake and became obsessed with making the perfect creations. She baked through the night to have freshly made cakes for her customers every morning. From Oreo cheesecake to her best-selling carrot cake! People started coming to Aru-bean just for her cakes. I can tell you that many people have said to me that Aru-bean has the best carrot cake on the island. I bet you’re thinking, “I’ll be the judge of that”! Could you do yourself a favor and try it? Please report back! It’s the perfect dessert after having some potato waffles with cheese, served with delicious Italian Lavazza coffee. I think it’ll be your first, but definitely not last, visit to Aru-bean.
You can feel Natalia’s passion when she tells her story and that of Aru-bean. I am sure that’s why most of her customers are repeats. As she says herself, she does it with heart.
💡Studies claim that the name coffee comes from the Arabic term Qahwa, meaning “exciting” and “energetic.” This then moved to Turkish “Kaveh,” later to Italy to become “Caffe.” In Aruba, we say un bon cop’i koffie!
The newly opened Les Cappuchinas is something I haven’t seen before on the island. The pink seats and beautifully decorated space with natural elements were refreshing to see. While living in New York, Susanne was a coffee shop hopper. She was always looking for the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and have a zen moment. She quickly realized her favorite places always had many plants and flowers inside. When she moved back to Aruba, that was what she missed the most. A place where she can be in her world, even for a little while. The more she thought about it, the more apparent it got. She would have to create this place for herself and other locals: a place of comfort, good coffee, and a relaxing vibe. The French and NY influence, unique aesthetic, and yummy treats make it the perfect spot for your Instagram shots.
Les Cappuchinas is one of the island's few, if not the only Caribbean-Asian fusion spots. Their best seller is a honey-lavender tea latte. The purple drink looks and tastes just as unique as it sounds. The Caribbean Bibimbap is an Aruban take on a Korean dish, which has become a favorite among loyal customers. For dessert, your taste buds are in for a treat! You should try the matcha or chocolate milkcrêpe. Since this is a blog about coffee spots, we have to mention the coffee too. Let’s go, Dutch! No, not the bill splitting… Dutch coffee: Beukenhorst. The perfect pairing to any Caribbean-fusion dessert, breakfast, or lunch.
Fun fact: Les Cappuchinas is named after the edible Capucine flower (nasturtium) shown in the logo, but it also represents Susanne’s roots. China! The obvious play on Cappuccino requires no further explanation, no?
💡Did you know coffee is the second most commercialized product in the world after oil? About 100 million bags are produced each year!
We, locals, are hard-working people. We get up every morning ready to start the daily grind, as the youngsters call it. When the founders had enough of the corporate world and lack of work-life balance, they thought about one of the things they enjoy the most: coffee. They hopped on a plane to Wisconsin to study the art of roasting coffee beans. The main idea was to create a coffee shop catering to locals. The Island Grind Coffee Palm Beach shop opened in December of 2019. You know what happens next, right?… The pandemic hits! They had to get creative. They rearranged everything in the little coffee shop and, out of pure survival, changed the business model and created Aruba’s first drive-thru coffee shop! It was a hit!
Island Grind served their coffee to lines and lines of health care workers on the way to/from work. Since Aruba was in a “shelter in place” lockdown, many locals saw it as the perfect opportunity to leave the house. Even police officers also enjoyed the convenient service while on duty. The business was booming! While others were shutting down, they needed to hire more personnel! Today, Island Grind has 3 locations on the island, one of which houses its roasting factory.
The Island Grind high-grade Arabica coffee beans are sourced from Colombia, Brazil, and Peru. All roasted here on the island every week. So, you’re always getting a truly fresh cup of coffee. The founders jokingly said that they are now so spoiled that they can taste the difference between freshly roasted and old coffee beans. Do they still buy supermarket coffee? No. Do they judge other coffee shops? I’d rather not say… Coffee is much like wine, they say. When you’re a coffee enthusiast, you can taste the depth and different flavors more easily. They have experimented with and tasted many beans, roasting styles, blends, and milk combinations. They are true coffee connoisseurs.
Their signature house blends are becoming very popular and sold by the bag. It is becoming the staple coffee in Aruban households. The founders say good coffee does not only rely on good beans and even good roasting. Good coffee is about who makes it. Their baristas are trained in making coffee the traditional way. This makes for a consistently good cup of coffee every time. Even better than good coffee is that they also have sandwiches and baked goods to go along with it.
Fun fact: the Island Grind logo is a coffee bean with a wave in between! The perfect representation of an island that is obsessed with coffee. The island grind means the daily labor of locals, but also a fun play on coffee grinds. Some would say the perfect blend of local and coffee.
So, where are you having your cup of coffee today?
Cup of coffee, Coffee spots on the island, Homemade coffee, Bean juice, Instagrammable coffee places, Cappuccino, Mochaccino, Coffee beans, Milkshakes, Yummy cakes
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