You can find all kinds of cafés in Barcelona, from the most popular to temples where coffee is practically worshipped. Nowadays there's a more recent crop of coffee shops in Barcelona that have revolutionised the world of coffee with a first-class product and comprehensive traceability throughout the process that brings the good stuff to us. These are places where you can (learn to) enjoy high-quality and freshly roasted coffee, where fruity and herbal nuances are light years away from the burnt horror you might otherwise be served if you're not paying attention.
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Barcelona's best coffee shops and cafés
At this coffee shop and roaster that first opened in 1989, you'll find roasting as well as wholesale and retail sale of single-origin coffees and exceptional blends – in all speciality formats, cold infusion included, and shakerato as well. There's also an area where you can have an excellent cup of coffee. It's not cheap, but the high quality of the coffee is worth the extra coins once in a while. The capuccinos are especially delicious.
Satan's serves one of the best cups of coffee you'll get in Barcelona, and their blends of Right Side Coffee – among the best in the city – are in constant rotation, so you can always try something different. They also serve the makings for a spectacular breakfast: 'Everything pairs well with coffee – I recommend the traditional Japanese breakfast, with rice, omelette, spinach, miso soup and coffee,' says Marcos Bartolomé, the man behind the enterprise. If you're not in the neighbourhood, try their Eixample location (Gran Vía, 700), open from 7am to 6pm every day of the week.
Jordi Mestres studied design at Elisava in Barcelona, and then emigrated to London, where he discovered the world of speciality coffee, and had his own mobile coffee cart called the Nomad. When he got back to Barcelona, and in record time, Mestres had established Nomad – coffee roasters, café, wholesale and retail shops, training – as ground zero zone of speciality coffee in Catalonia. At the Nomad Coffee Lab & Shop, they experiment with coffee, and you can go to try brews that are prepared in a variety of ways, such as espresso, flat white, V60, aeropress, cold brew or cold drip.
Annahí Páez comes from Costa Rica, from a family of coffee growers – it's in her blood and it shows. Tasting her Rio Jorco blend is a complete experience – it has a thousand nuances, it's potent and subtle at the same time, and it's marvellous. The friendly wait staff at Onna Coffee are like cocktail mixologists in the way they assess what you like to make you the best blend that isn't just your usual cuppa joe. They suggest ways to infuse your brew depending on the machine they use. If you're feeling peckish, the pastrami sandwiches are spectacular, and the desserts are home-made.
If you want to drink true coffee, you can do it at Ruma's. Owner Ruma Motrenko is passionate about speciality coffee. She works with beans toasted by Hidden – among the best in town – and the combination of quality and good service you'll find here comes from the fact that Motrenko refreshes her stock weekly, always paying attention to the origin of the coffee and looking for the all-important maturation factor. Coffee is king here, of course, but they also do chocolate, which you can get in a cup, or in the form of bonbons, cakes and artisan delights.
Espai Joliu found success with formula that seemed simple but has managed to touch the soul of Poblenou: a café and plant shop in one. Owner and founder Lucía López next opened Orval, which she refers to as Espai Joliu's evil twin. 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. Coffee, like jimson weed, is psychoactive, and Orval's is one of the best in the neighbourhood. You'll also find a high-quality breakfast menu that's like having breakfast in a gastro market.
Now that years have passed since Satan's went from its little space in the Raval to the place of coffee worship in the Barri Gòtic it is now, someone had to fill in the vacancy. And lucky for us it's Dalston, where you can grab an amazing coffee to go. This one-man establishment barely has room for the bar where Borja Rosselló skilfully employs an espresso machine and a Moccamaster filter to concoct his whole repertoire (espresso, filter, flat white, capuccino, cold brew...) from the manual of the good barista.
It's hard to classify this space that's not so much a café or coffee shop as it is a workshop with its doors open to the public. With the beautiful Giesen roaster in plain view and a small and lovely interior patio space, they open their workshop so everyone can taste seasonal coffees from around the world. They're enthusiastic and, if you want, they'll explain in detail whatever you want to know about the production, origin, the thousand nuances of coffee, and everything they work with (bread, oil, milk...). This is exactly the kind of project we all need right now.
You can't beat the combo of a really good coffee and a delicious sandwich. That's just what the Ascasos (pioneers of the express café in Spain) had in mind when they opened Black Remedy. The coffee is out of this world, but the focus here is as much on the food. Nothing is processed, and when you get your mouth around the bomb of amazingness that is their pastrami sandwich – aromatic, grilled, with a touch of delicate mustard – you know that few can match it. Their forte is anything smoked, and some items are smoked up to 15 hours (go ahead and ask).
Here's a concept store dedicated to plants, illustration and design that's also a gallery and café (they serve Nomad Coffee concoctions, along with artisan cakes). In addition to plants, especially succulents and cactus, there's a place for local artists: you'll find illustrations and ceramics. The flowery Pompilio plants and Bas pots complete the ambience of a space that seduces instantly.
Get Your Coffee Order Right
Spanish: Café americano
English: Hot water and espresso
If you're not familiar, an 'americano' is espresso combined with hot water. Far more common than filter coffee in Barcelona, the strength depends on the ratio of shots of espresso to water. It's a fairly typical coffee house option in many other countries as well, including, yes, the USA.
Cafè amb llet
Spanish: Café con leche
English: Espresso and milk in equal parts
At any café in Barcelona you'll find cafè amb llet, a delicious combination of equal parts espresso and hot milk. It's served piping hot, but a good one is worth a tiny tongue blister if you're a coffee devotee.
Spanish: Café solo
English: Shot of espresso
A cafè sol (or simply a 'cafè') is a single shot of espresso, plain and simple. The bitter coffee is usually presented with a packet of sugar in a short, clear glass.
English: Coffee with alcohol
If you want a little extra something-something in your java, this order will get you a small coffee with a splash of alcohol. Though the Catalan word is 'cigaló', almost all locals use the Spanish term, 'carajillo'. Typically, you can order it anywhere that serves both coffee and liquor. Try it with Baileys ('carajillo de Baileys') or with rum ('carajillo de ron'), two popular options.
English: Espresso with a bit of milk
Between a cafè sol and a cafè amb llet lies the tallat – an espresso 'cut' with milk. ('Tallat' and 'cortado' both literally translate to 'cut'.) It's still comprised of primarily coffee, but it's a creamier and less-bitter choice than straight-up espresso.
Fancy a Brunch with That Coffee?
Relatively new to the brunch trend, many bars and restaurants in Barcelona have decided to sign up for the phenomenon. The food has been refined and rejuvenated into new cuisines. Whether you’re looking for some energy from scrambled eggs or want toast with bacon after a weekend of exploring the city, look no further than these places with some of the best brunches around.