Don Day loves coffee but seldom drinks coffee outside of his own home. So this week, Don Day hands the typewriter over to Pirate John Burger. Pirate John often drinks coffee out. Sometimes Pirate John even runs to where he drinks his coffee out. So who better than Pirate John to tell you about one of San Miguel’s best coffee shops.


I like Starbucks. I really do. In spite of their high prices, frequent long lines, and over-tendency to serve sugar bombs. When I travel, I am always glad to see a Starbucks close by, knowing that I’ll be able to get consistently good coffee. Not to mention what they have done to improve airport coffee.

But I never adhered to the blame game that they were responsible for the demise of small independent coffee shops. All of those that I saw fold up, served mediocre coffee in rather dismal and dilapidated shops. Like speakeasies, their time was up. Still, what is now missing is human contact. Almost everyone at a Starbucks these days has their face buried in their own isolated electronic bubble.

Cafe Buen Dia is living proof that a small guy with a sense of community can still rule.

Ruth, the owner of Casa Mandu, introduced me to Carlos at Cafe Buen Dia last year. She told me the story of how a group of his loyal customers stepped in and helped capitalize a new location when he lost his existing lease. I’m sure that there was some altruism involved, but she insists that it was because of the superiority of his coffee. Now that’s loyalty.

Pirate John with Carlos and his wife, Ceci.

Buen Dia serves coffee as good as I’ve had in Europe. But, more importantly, it is a meeting and gathering mecca. I have met and enjoyed fabulous conversations with folks from all over the world. Some just visiting but also with many San Miguel regulars. Rarely do you see heads buried into electronic devices. And when you do, it is mostly to share some photos with a new-found friend. That’s why I like to sit in the more confined downstairs area. But if you are a group or desire a more reflective ambiance, there is a large rooftop seating area.

Ceci with Pirate John’s wife and some of her fellow art friends.

Along with coffee, Buen Dia’s menu includes tipica Mexican breakfasts and lite lunch selections.


Somehow, their fruit is always ripe and delicious, so granola with fruit is a favorite of mine. The chilaquiles come with real bacon, fruit, and a coffee of your choice if you are planning a long walk afterwards!

If you’re lucky and the supply chains are working, Carlos also sells his special mix of coffee beans, whole or ground. Especially good for early risers. A neighbor who has a low tolerance for caffeine told me that his decaf was the best she ever had.

As dedicated as I am to my healthy lifestyle, I can easily slip into procrastination for exercise. Especially on days I jog. The cure is a shot of Carlos’ espresso. A routine for me now. As I enter Buen Dia, Carlos always greets me with “un espresso coming up”. No chain coffee shop will ever be able to compete with that. So stop in and give Carlos and perhaps the folks sitting next to you a mighty arrggg (note from Don Day: I think that’s a pirate word). You’ll be pleased at what connection can do for your psyche.

Cafe Buen Dia is located at Callejon del Pueblito (between Hildago & Relox) in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. They are open Wednesday to Monday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Tuesday, 8:00 am to Noon.

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