A traditional sidewalk café has come to Liberia’s Calle Real with Arte, Café y Studio, a mix of cafeteria, North American confectionery with Guanacastecan crafts, gourmet infusions and local entrepreneurship.
This is one of those places that’s worth a visit not only for the quality of its coffee, but also for the variety of styles and quality of service, which will make you feel at home.
The menu has everything. Warm drinks include traditional black coffee that comes with any kind of milk, including almond. Before preparing your coffee, servers will ask if you want it weak or strong, just like at a friend’s or relative’s house.
Plus, after you finish your first cup if you want another, the café will give you a second one free, as long as it’s black coffee, coffee with milk or hot chocolate.
The menu has an abundance of espressos (concentrated coffee), cappuccino (espresso blend with milk and foam), latte (coffee with steamed milk) and mocaccino (chocolate latte).
I tried a cappuccino with amaretto flavoring, which had the perfect amount of sweetness and didn’t require sugar. Prices for warm beverages range from ¢600-¢1,800.
I also tried the pizza, which has a homemade crust and fresh ingredients. One slice about the size of a hand costs ¢1,000.
For cold drinks, there is a range of possibilities, including more than 10 types of frappé (foam-covered iced coffee) and other sugar-free options.
There also are specialties that allude to the canton, such as Café Ciudad Blanca, el Calle Real, el Calá and the popular Pellejo De Lora.
The teas and infusions are a full ritual: They’re served next to three hourglasses, one for white tea, another for green tea and a third for black tea. The hourglasses indicate the appropriate infusion time for it to be ready. Other tea options include el Primavera (to strengthen defenses), el Cocoa Masala Chai (to improve blood circulation and for diabetes) and el Passion Frutal (for romantics).
Rounding out the menu are pastries, sandwiches, cupcakes and desserts including tiramisu and tres leches cake.
The force behind Arte, Café y Studio is Liberian Alejandra Salazar, who has three years experience with her home-delivery confectionery business Mi Cake.
Joining Salazar is friend Nury Matarrita, a local Nicoyan artisan who has a crafts and jewelry workshop on site showcasing her brand, Mandala Arte con buena vibra.
The Good: Credit and debit cards accepted.
The Bad: Closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 12-8 p.m.
Address: Calle Real, in Barrio Condega, next to the laundromat and Mi Casa store.