Despite a thriving café culture, Spanish coffee has long suffered a maligned reputation, thanks to its Franco era practice of torrefacto. Faced with shortages and trying to keep costs down, local roasters coated coffee beans in sugar prior to roasting (torrefacto), giving the resulting coffee a burnt flavor. The practice still endures today, well past any need to do so (as can be said for many traditions). Fortunately, modern coffee purists have successfully started to move local coffee culture away from torrefacto and towards high quality, properly roasted beans. The pioneers are well known at this point; Magnífico, NØMAD, Hidden, Syra, SlowMov, and Satan all quickly come to mind, although there are others as well. Their influence has created an entirely new generation of Barcelona roasters and cafes dedicated to high quality coffee. Here are nine local roasters and cafes (in no particular order) putting care and expertise into bringing out the best in your cup.
With two locations, one near Plaça Catalunya and another in Gótico, Ruma’s spreads the coffee love around the city. Roasts from Kenya, plus the house bean from Hidden, are available, with special attention given to the sourcing and maturation. Ruma’s offers the extra delight of artisan chocolate. Russian owner Ruma Motrenko brings her extensive knowledge of the sweet stuff from her two gourmet chocolate shops in Russia, plus her own brand. She offers her chocolates in Barcelona in handmade bonbon, cookie, and pastry form to accompany your café con leche. If you’re lucky, you may find available a slice of Russian medovik cake, a honeyed, multi-layered sponge cake designed to make you immediately join a gym.
Vegans have a home at Coffee Casa in El Born. The specialty coffee cafe focuses on serving selected coffees from Brazil, Ethiopia, and Peru made on their La Marzocco. Single origin, hand-toasted beans rule the day here, along with Oat-ly brand oatmilk. This is a vegan café to its delicious pastry center. Almond cake and cinnamon rolls are not just “good for vegan,” but delicious in their own right. Coffee Casa’s new, larger location (with a bigger kitchen) on c/Carders promises more of the sweet stuff to go with your cup of fresh coffee.
News & Coffee
Is it possible for a takeaway-only coffee stand to survive in a city obsessed with sitting down to enjoy a cup? News & Coffee rises to the challenge. The co-founders, Pablo, Gautier, and Davide, pooled their collective talents in the hospitality, marketing, and coffee industries, respectively, to offer high quality coffee from two sidewalk newspaper kiosks in Barcelona. (A third kiosk in Gràcia currently is closed.) The black kiosks – one by Ciutadella and another at Francesc Macia – stand out on the sidewalk with their bright illustrations and a Victoria Arduino machine front and center. You’ll find more than La Vanguardia to read as you sip your expertly pulled café with a dollop of fresh-foamed, velvety milk. There are mornings when you want to linger over a cup; and there are those days where you want to keep going. News & Coffee fuels the wanderers.
The millennial generation’s embrace of the zero waste, sustainable living philosophy thrives deep in the heart of Sants at the refreshingly simple NEØ coffee shop. French couple Camille and Pierre opened the shop three months ago and Pierre, a former architect, built the spare, plywood furniture himself. They source their coffee beans from Hospitalet- based Animal roastery, which delivers by bicycle. The cafe draws locals in the mornings and for Saturday brunch, although you’re just as likely to hear French as Catalan or Castellano. Leave fancy at the doorstep and take a sip of the newest “best coffee in BCN” contender in a space that sets a strong example of reduce, reuse, recycle.
The arriba-de-Diagonal sister of Oma Bistró on Consell de Cent, Oma Coffee is a tiny slip of a place near Mercat Galvany in Sant Gervasi. Anyone in the barrio who’s loathe to trek down to Born or Gótico for their fix of NØMAD, Hidden, or Magnífico brews should head over to Oma. All three brands of roasted coffee beans are served at Oma in blue cups without handles (pay attention, it’s hot!) and on the now de-rigueur wooden board. You’ll find friendly barista/DJ Mauricio spinning records, but no requests please. DJ Mauricio plays what he feels (hiphop on the Sunday when I went). A selection of tostados, bikinis, and pastries are available if you need a bite with your brew. A handful of small outdoor tables are available. Take your café para llevar and head over to nearby Turó Parc, which is a five minute walk away.
Is the space is so ugly that by comparison the coffee and pastries look like veritable works of art? A sip and a bite puts that theory to rest – they are truly worthy. It’s apparent why. Espai Joliu in Poblenou sources locally, with coffee from NØMAD or Three Marks and pastries from a who’s-who list of local bakeries, including Origo, Cake Man, and Yellow Bakery. Also thrilling to see on the menu, a gluten-free granola bowl and what appears to be a post-millennial avo-toast with mató, coriander, and dukkah. If you have time, skip around the corner and check out NØMAD Roaster’s Home.
The retro-spaceship that is the new Brunell’s Patisseria is still more pastry shop than coffee café. With Magnífico roasters’ own Salvador Sans heading up the coffee part of the new Brunell’s though, it’s not a stretch to say it’s easily also a stellar place to buy a cup of coffee. The redesigned space has sea foam green (yes, I said sea foam, not turquoise) tables and benches, plus a floor so shiny I was instantly self-conscious of my decision to wear a skirt. (Thankfully, the other coffee side is less reflective.) The coffee hit as expected — that is, exceptionally well. Of course, it is Magnífico. Enough said. Grab a cup, along with that award-winning Brunell’s croissant, and enjoy your moment before life requires you to get back to the real world.
With its bright red and white striped awning stretching over nearly half of the sidewalk in front, Roast Club attracts plenty of attention right away. It doesn’t disappoint. They roast specially selected beans from Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala and serve them along with sandwiches, breakfast porridge or yogurt bowls, croissants, and other café fare. Vegetarian and vegan dishes are available. The weekend line can stretch down the sidewalk at times, so get there early!
Three Marks is a well-respected roaster whose spare and bright Fort Pienc café makes clear the main focus here is high-quality coffee. The café sprawls over two floors, so there’s plenty of space to enjoy a socially-distanced cup of their specialty brew. The industrial vibe is kept from feeling too cold thanks to colorful chairs and a healthy crop of plants throughout the space. Co-founders Marc (Aguyé), Marco (de Rebotti), and Marco (Paccagnella) opened up the café on Carrer d’Ausiàs Marc (should it be called Four Marks?) and bring both enthusiasm and experience to the job. Three Marks carefully sources its beans and roasts them in-house. With an off-the-beaten-track location near Marina Metro, Three Marks requires a trek, but one worth making.
Don’t let COVID interfere with your need for a caffeine fix. BCN Coffee Guide’s convenient Fuck Covid Takeaway Map has you covered no matter where you are in the city. For the cyclists seeking coffee, here’s a choice list of cafes that welcome your kind, even if you never wash your bike.