A few days ago, I was craving a change of scenery from the my usual work spots like the Biblioteca, so I decided to drag JB with me to check out the local coffee shop of San Juan del Sur, El Gato Negro. I’d heard a lot about the place from mostly fellow gringos as it’s quite popular with the tourists and expats in town. When we walked up from the beach, I immediately recognized the vibrantly colorful shop from our walks through town–it’s hard to miss!
I walked in and ordered a surprisingly strong cup of local coffee for 30 Cords ($1.27) that came with free refills (ahem, budget travel tip!). There were other things on the menu including organic fresh fruit juices, smoothies, bagels, sandwiches and salads. However, the prices were a bit high relative to local standards, which could explain why it’s not often frequented by the local Nicaraguans.
The inside looked just like a small independent coffee shop I was used to seeing in Berkley or San Francisco. The cement floors and the high open bar ceiling made the shop feel open and modern. There were cozy eclectic pillows on the benches near the window, locally handmade bamboo swing chairs that hung from the ceiling next to the big comfy couches and dark wood tables scattered throughout the room.
There was free Wifi for customers which promoted a creative working atmosphere of young people studying and working on their laptops while drinking coffee. It reminded me of a college campus coffee shop!
We both found the coffee shop to be a nice place to do work and be productive all day long. We grabbed our big cups of dark coffee in one of their mugs, sat down at a table near the window and all of the sudden El Gato Negro transformed into our own personal office.
I loved it because around us were people either reading, working on their laptops or having an interesting conversation with fellow travelers from around the world over a cup of coffee. There was a certain synergy of creativity, travel and passion around us as we worked there–it took me right back to my UC Davis college days.
There was even a small collection of used books for sale around the coffee shop where people could buy, trade or sell their old books. El Gato Negro also allowed local merchants to sell their own custom made art & ceramics or knock off sunglasses.
If you’re looking for a strong cup of coffee or latte and a place to either read, relax or just meet some interesting nice people–El Gato Negro is a nice option in town. It’s quite easy to spend the whole day in there, getting lost in a good book or a conversation with a complete stranger over coffee. It’s a place that feels so familiar that sometimes I forget that I am even in a third world country. So once I get my dose of familiarity, I go right back to enjoying the unique and amazing culture around me that this beautiful country has to offer.