by Frank Finamore, guest blogger

DSC00775I’m an admitted coffee junkie. My fascination probably started as a kid when I saw that my grandmother’s blue Wedgewood cup was never empty. Today, I sometimes go to bed early just so that the time will go by faster before I can indulge in my next fix.  Is there anything better than a hot cup of joe in the morning?

I remember the great coffee spots that I’ve had the privilege to stumble upon. There was the Parisian bakery in the 16th that thought it was odd that my partner and I were ordering croissants and cafe au lait after noon. It had been a late night, but that coffee was a bit of heaven. Then there’s the Atocha train station in Madrid where I don’t think it’s possible to get a bad espresso, even if you have to wade through a cloud of smoke to get to the bar. In Italy, probably my favorite spot for coffee, I fondly remember a cappuccino in a tiny restaurant, which could have actually doubled as someone’s home, called Gato Nero tucked away in a remote corner of Sorrento.

But all of these places are the usual European haunts where coffee abounds.  More surprising was a small cafe located in the heart of Willemstad, Curacao that knocked my  socks off with a rich blend of European boldness and hearty Colombian beans.  But as much as I still savor that cup, even as it gets better with each memory of it, I have found true bliss in the most unlikely of places, Tijuana, Mexico.DSC00772

Better known for its taco stands or late-night haunts, if you’re near the border, make a pit stop at La Stazione for the best cafe latte on the planet. Seriously. Located just a few doors down from the American Consulate, across from the famous Tijuana racetrack, you will get the most delicious, most beautiful coffee, served by the friendliest, multi-lingual baristas.

On my first visit, I was blown away immediately by the sheer beauty of my drink.  My friends and I compared cups (and yes, they serve in real ceramic cups.) I had a flower design made by the precise fusion of milk and espresso. My friend’DSC00777s had a heart and a pine tree.  More importantly, the flavor made me think, “Who needs Europe?”

(Frank’s blog is called One Man’s Story; he writes about growing up in the Washington, DC area and how his family helped shape the man he is today.)