Between 2010–20, specialty cafés emerged in Mexico that led to a significant change to café work culture. Using protagonists’ oral accounts, this article examines the rise of specialty café culture in two Mexican cities (Puebla City and Oaxaca City) and how and why specialty coffeeshop owners and baristas participated in this rise. The article argues that specialty café owners and baristas were crucial actors in the emergence of a specialty café culture in Mexico. Subsequently, specialty cafés offered new working conditions for baristas as well as owners. These conditions created jobs of passion, led to job-satisfaction for these urban workers, and facilitated positive service-work experiences. Overall, this paper exposes how specialty cafés grew, why people decided to participate in this growth and how they interpreted their participation in this experience. Moreover, this paper adds to the history and study of coffee by approaching café culture in a coffee-producing country and by prioritising the focus on café workers instead of agricultural labour.