Finding an attractive café with quality products to eat breakfast, have a snack or go for a coffee can be a difficult undertaking. We show you where to go to hit the mark.
In the Cafés El Magnífico shop – where you can get yourself some of the best coffee beans in the world – 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.
The hum of customers is a regular feature of this iconic shop in the Gràcia neighbourhood, and even more so since the proprietor, Jordi Valls, decided to install a small bar and a few high tables and stools. While before punters went in just to buy recently toasted coffee, now they stay to drink a cup as well, and pack the place out in the process. There are six varieties on offer – Etiòpia, Brasil, Nicaragua, Kènia, Colòmbia – and you can also pair your brew with a brioche.
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's got nothing to do with your everyday coffee; 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. They also make flat whites and cold brews, the latter of which is coffee that drips for eight hours – during this process the maximum amount of caffeine is taken from the bean – and then served with ice. If you're feeling peckish, the pastrami sandwiches are spectacular, and the desserts are home-made.
We still aren't sure who's starting their day at 6am, but whoever they are, they've probably had breakfast in this charming café. Heir to Cafè Caracas in Portal de l'Àngel, this establishment – there are others in the city, such as the one at Puigmartí, 38 – also has a shop in the corner where they sell excellent coffee. It's noted for it's relaxed, friendly and fun ambience, thanks to the wait staff who serve customers having a coffee and a bite to eat in front of the neighbourhood market.
Right inside the door of a building, which you can also access from C/ Jaume I, Mesón del Café is a classic in Barcelona, having opened its doors in 1909. It's got a modernista touch, some have said it's a bit Viennese, but it also brings to mind spots in Salzburg; and the small size doesn't keep customers away. As for the quality of the coffee, it can only be compared to varieties served in Italy and Colombia.
It's only got a couple of tables, so it's not a place to sit for a leisurely cup of coffee, but this small café deserves a visit when you're in the mood for a good brew. Its tiny bar is quite popular and if you stop in, you'll know why. They toast their coffee themselves, bright and early every day. In addition to the usual flavours, you can try some more exotic varieties, such as the Hawaiian blend, for example. Let the expert staff advise you, and if you like what they suggest – and you will – you can also buy a bag of it (or any other of the types they've got), ground in a moment and ready to take away.
Until the early 20th century, a city dairy farm ('vaquería', where urbanites would go to get fresh milk) stood on this site. But times change, and it’s now a Scandi-inspired café with an excellent design. They serve all kinds of food for breakfast (including different scrambled egg dishes), and afternoon snacks such as home-made cakes and tempting sandwiches. There’s also a dish of the day that’s worth a try, while on Saturday and Sunday they serve brunch. To sum up, whenever you go, you could find yourself staying the whole day.
Exotic and mysterious, the interior of Salterio is a cave out of an Arabian fable. We're not talking about some prefab scenario, either – this temple oozes authenticity because it actually has Arab roots. Dive into the ocean of options on the menu, which boasts some of the best teas in Barcelona, to see for yourself what Salterio really has to offer. The range of herbal teas is also eye-popping. And the fruit smoothies, though on the pricy side, are among our top five in the city. If you're looking for something a bit stronger, they also serve beer, sangria and wine. And Turkish coffee. If you're feeling peckish, the pastries are out of this world and obligatory to complete the full magical and relaxing Arabic experience right in the middle of the Barri Gòtic and recharge your batteries and revitalise your spirit.
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.