Mentiritas Blancas is a coffee shop situated in the heart of Panama City’s funky Via Argentina neighborhood. It is a favorite hangout for neighborhood locals, coffee fanatics, and visitors wanting to experience Panama’s coffee culture scene. Here’s a look inside…
Via Argentina is an older area of Panama City known for its tree-lined central boulevard with a mix of old-school diners, restaurants, bars, and cafes. When you’re taking a stroll down the neighborhood, take a right on the street between Trapiche and Manolo’s and you will eventually come across the Mentiritas Blancas Artisan Bakery & Coffee Lab. You might even almost pass it if you’re not paying attention as the minimal outdoor front keeps it a hidden gem in the city.
As you enter the place, you are welcomed by a cozy, intimate setting that instantly makes you feel at home. Along one wall is a row of bar stools where you may find digital nomads working away online, and a couch at the end provides a comfortable setting to catch up with friends. The aroma of coffee and freshly baked pastries fills the air.
Artisan Bakery & Coffee Lab
The selection of coffee ranges from gourmet blends from Panama to specialty beans obtained from other coffee growing regions in the world. If you haven’t tried it yet this is an excellent place to have your first cup of Geisha coffee. Geisha is one of the most premium and expensive coffees in the world and can sell for up to $170 a pound. Panama is one of the top producers of this particular blend of coffee, and it is something unique to try while you are here. But don’t expect a sip of Geisha to give you an orgasm. Many people drink it and don’t see what the fuss is about, but you can at least say you’ve tried it!
The baked goods at Mentiritas Blancas might be some of the best I have tried in Panama. A delicious assortment of tasty empanadas (the buffalo chicken empanada is amazing BTW), muffins, cakes, quiches, and more are displayed. The red velvet cookie is my favorite desert there, and it pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee. On Sundays, they put together a mouth-watering brunch where you can order Nutella waffles, avocado toast, caramelized bacon, and baked eggs.
The truth behind Mentiritas Blancas
So who exactly is behind the concept of Mentiritas Blancas? It all started back in 2010 when cousins Melissa and Maureen started a takeout bakery with just a Cuisinart electric oven. The demand for their amazing cakes was a huge success, and they formally opened Mentiritas Blancas as a bakery in the Bethania neighborhood of Panama City in 2014.
Then in 2015, Giancarlo became the third partner and expanded the bakery to include a full coffee experience. That location quickly outgrew itself, and now they are busy running their new cafe on Via Argentina. I’ve gotten to know co-owner Giancarlo pretty well after being in the cafe so often, and I have never met someone with the passion for a good cup of coffee that he has. Here’s a quick interview with him about what inspired him to get into coffee.
Why was the name Mentiritas Blancas chosen?
Mentiritas Blancas is a popular Latin American expression for referring to harmless or little lies. People always want a dessert, but they feel guilty about it. So they tell themselves a “mentirita blanca” like “just a little piece, “this cookie and that’s it.” But we shouldn’t feel guilty for having something that makes us happy!
What inspired you to get into coffee?
Like most of the people I’ve met in the coffee world, I got into coffee by accident. I have a psychology degree, and by the time everything started, I was beginning my clinical practice. My wife was already establishing with her cousin Melissa, Mentiritas Blancas as a bakery. After a year they realized they wanted to add a menu that could let people stay and grab a quick bite while waiting for their cakes. That’s when I got in. I wasn’t passionate about the coffee; I just thought it could be a good business opportunity. I went to Colombia to get trained in coffee because I didn’t know the first thing besides that coffee is served in a cup and it is supposed to be black. There I had so many good coffees, drank so much (at least eight espressos per day and 3 pour overs), and met some incredible baristas that today are very good friends. When I came back to Panama, my palate was totally changed. It was like unplugging yourself from the matrix. Coffee was not what it used to be anymore, and I was hooked on it.
Where do you think the coffee culture is heading in Panama?
Coffee culture has grown in this last year to unmeasurable proportions. We have at least eight specialty coffee shop places available, and there are more to come. We just had our first formal Barista Championship with the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) assessment, and overall people are drinking better coffee and realizing it. Surely there are going to be more openings in the next few years. We are going to get more specialty coffee from Chiriqui into the city, and coffee shops are getting more related with coffee farms and particular coffee profiles for their clients. And overall, people are drinking coffee, more people are going to learn about barista’s skills, and I’m confident to believe that little by little Panamá is going to be known as a new spot in where you can have amazing coffee, just like Bogota, New York or Portland. We are going to become a new worldwide coffee lovers destination.
What is your goal for each customer that walks through the door?
My main goal is to give them a good experience. Coffee is more than a cup – it is an experience (That’s my new slogan!). Because a good coffee involves a good atmosphere, excellent attention, tasty appetizers to go along with the coffee, good company, and a good cup that is shaped exactly around your mood or context. It’s not about if you like filter v60 yirgacheffe or Panamá’s geisha or if you prefer a mochaccino instead. It’s about what you need to make that particular moment something nice, comfy, warm – a moment to yourself. What we aim for is to provide you with all these elements so you can feel taken care of, that you feel so with yourself that you don’t notice time passing by.
Whether you are looking to hang with the local hipsters, are a coffee fanatic, or just visiting Panama and want a good cup of coffee, I highly recommend stopping by Mentiritas Blancas!
Mentiritas Blancas is located on Avenida 2B (street between Monolo’s and Trapiche) off Via Argentina. They are open Tuesday – Saturday 8 am – 8 pm & Sunday 9 am – 4 pm. They can be contacted by phone at 399-8261, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a sponsored post promoting Mentiritas Blancas, and I received compensation in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own, and I will never publish anything that I wouldn’t go to myself. For information on promoting your business through pty.life visit THIS LINK.