Michael: I had never done it before. Eating all of the dessert before even taking a sip of my coffee is against my nature, not to mention the years of etiquette drilled into me by my mother. But each bite of the maracuyá and guanábana cake tempted another one.
For my friends in other countries I should probably explain that the main ingredients of the cake are two of the over 150 fruits found in Colombia.
Caramelo, the small coffee shop where we found this delectable delight is one of the gems in our pursuit for the best coffee shops. My wife and I like to try these hole-in-the-wall places. OK, perhaps I drag my wife to them more often than she would like.
Graciela: In my opinion there are two types of these places. They are either really bad or excellent. There is no in-between. The vast majority serve questionable tasting coffee and offer a few poorly cooked bread pieces to eat, or potato chips. However, Michael will face the odds just in hopes of discovering that 1% or less that surprise you with something special.
Michael: Yes, Caramelo is one of those places where the owner, and seemingly only employee, want to treat customers to the best. The place eschews the shams of expensive commercialism decoration and refrains from subjective advertising promoting the products. There is just good honest food, drink, service and atmosphere.
Graciela: We have taken our coffee there several times trying all the food she offers. You will not find the bread goods that most of these places serve. Instead her unique cakes are displayed in the glass case.
Attention to detail with a coffee theme shows. The table cloths on the inside tables are made from a coffee promoting fabric. Bowls of coffee beans scented with cinnamon sit on each table. And even the cup and saucer have the words café on them.
Michael: Decoration is eclectic. Large reproduction posters of paintings by the Colombian artist, Omar Rayo Reyes hang on the walls along with colorful paintings of Colombia. There are also old wall hangings to do with the Beatles and Rolling Stones. The glass shelves are filled with antique pottery and whimsies. Standing out from everything else is a small painting of a semi-nude woman taking a selfie of herself in the mirror.
Graciela: Conversations with the young owner, Ximena Montaño, explained much. She is a recent graduate from culinary school. Her instructor taught her a European style of creating pastries but to use local ingredients. The decoration comes with the help of her father who owned an antique store.
Michael: The same attention that goes into her sweets also applies to the coffee. Each cup is made fresh for the customer.
But here is the best part. You can order full cakes to take home. I recently celebrated a birthday. My wife purchased the maracuyá and guanábana cake. People at the party who never take seconds asked for more.
Graciela: Caramelo is located near the town square (parque principle) in Chiá. If you enter through the Portal de la Luna it is just a few stores up and on the right. There are a couple of tables with umbrellas on the outside. The closest parking lot is probably the one at Surtifruver off the Avenida Pradilla and near the city fountain.