Certain places, rather than becoming trendy, are a paradigm of the neighbourhood they're in, how the locals drink, what they eat and even how they speak. Espai Joliu used a formula that seemed simple but has managed to touch the soul of Poblenou: a café and plant shop in one.
Lucía López, the owner and founder, next opened Orval, which she refers to as Espai Joliu's evil twin. In fact, she admits that she wanted to break from everything beautiful about Espai Joliu. But don't start thinking Orval is some sort of shrine to the hideous – far from it, though interestingly, the word 'orval' in Catalan is a synonym for Datura stramonium (jimson weed), an important ingredient in the ointment that helps witches fly according to European witchcraft. When you walk into Orval, you're not slapped in the face with the heady sensation of baroque and shabby sweetness at Joliu. Orval is a café plants in it, yes, but it's a sober, straightforward space, that's full of light.
Orval also opened 'for the need to create something new', says López: on the second floor there's a ceramic oven, where she and her brother make coffee cups and plant pots. Coffee, like jimson weed, is psychoactive, and Orval's is one of the best in the neighbourhood: they use Nomad coffee for espresso, and that of Three Marks Coffee for filtered. You'll also find a high-quality breakfast menu, featuring toast with Yellow Bakery bread, pastries and buns from The Cake Man, home-made butter and compotes, and vegan doughnuts from La Donutería on Fridays. In short, it's like having breakfast in a gastro market, with uninterrupted service from 9am to 7pm.