My reviews for Oaxaca are in a bit of a mess but don’t worry, it’s nothing serious. It just so happens that I am publishing them in a reverse chronological order. So, let’s go back to the beginning of my recent visit to Mexico’s cultural beating heart and spend some time getting to know the first coffee place I went to during my stay, Filemon.
Filemon is a multi-talented place that is known for its freshly baked bread, pastries, outrageous pastries and for being a specialty coffee roastery. As I discovered later on, Filemon doesn’t just roast for its own needs, it roasts for many other cafés in town and lets roasters come in an use its facilities too.
I took a seat on the little roof top patio and tried to stay as much as possible in the shade to avoid the burning midday sun. The menu offered a lot of variety of dishes, some of them already sold out because they’re so popular. I still managed to score the chicken waffle, which I was told is often the first to sell out. It really hit the spot, especially after having travelled in a minibus for a couple of hours prior and feeling famished.
Where I did feel a bit let down right from the getgo was the coffee (not great), the kombucha (super sour and not fizzy, though I was told it was an experiment) and the plant situation (all dried out). I think a place like this can definitely do better to keep up appearances and as a specialty coffee roaster, the coffee should be on point every time. Maybe I was just unlucky.
A little while later, I popped downstairs and met Valeria Pantoja who is the head roaster at Filemon. She gave me a little tour of the facilities, including the roastery and the bakery. I learned that she acquired her roasting skills in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second biggest city, and that for the time being they only work with local coffee producers from Oaxaca. In the longer term, the plan is to offer more options from further afield.
They roast on a 7 1/2 kg drum roaster machine by 100 MEX machine, a brand I had previously encountered at Caja de Cristal in Mexico City as well.
As we meandered back towards the coffee bar, Valeria explained that the bakery also focuses on recreating traditional Oaxacan favourite pastries like orejas, giant ears dipped in chocolate as well as introducing more recent inventions such as the cruffin, including one that has a coffee jam filling with an espresso base.
Filemon’s founder, David Garcia, started the business collective with the initial goal to focus on roasting and later, they added the café, bakery and so forth. After Val moved to Oaxaca, she invested in the company and as co-owner is largely responsible for the coffee roasting operation as well as the café.
The location is homely and has lots of bright spots. I could easily see why it is so highly regarded in the community and such a magnet for both locals as well as expats. I do think, however, that the coffee should have been better given Filemon’s place in the coffee scene. I can’t wait to go back soon and give it another shot. Then, I will definitely have a cruffin too.