Isa Visits Barcelona – 25 Magazine: Summer 2017

CCatalunya’s vibrant capital is worth a visit at any time of year, and for any reason.

For me, the warm autumnal weather in November proved the best time to explore Barcelona’s blossoming coffee scene, and add some exciting food stops along the way. I was there for CoLab, Barista Guild of Europe’s bi-annual interactive event, which connects a local coffee community to an international audience of baristas and café owners, and proves the perfect opportunity to exchange ideas, get inspired, and explore rising coffee scenes in Europe. Although the event planning consumes most of my available time, I always try to add some time to immerse myself in the city.

While a bit off the touristy track, I started my day at Cooccio, the event space where CoLab was held, and where Miguel Lamora hosted the excellent Atmans Coffee. Miguel and I used to work together in London, so call me biased, but he’s one of the most talented baristas I know. The site at Cooccio has closed, but he’s already brewing on other coffee projects, while also focusing his attention on organizing the competitions as the SCA Spain National Coordinator.

Hidden Coffee is another multi-roaster café in the same area, within walking distance to Sants station, focusing on a variety of beans offered on a wide array of brewing methods. Having been open only for a few months, I was very impressed by the quality and excellent service.

Moving towards the east, onto the touristy Gòtic district in the center of Barcelona. If you’re on a tight schedule and want to avoid getting lost in the tangle of narrow curvy streets, make sure to mark Satan’s Coffee Corner on your map. Having heard so much about the iconic brand, I was excited to finally make it here. The Right Side Coffee was excellently prepared, both on espresso as on filter, but it’s the food that has me craving to go back. A Japanese breakfast so delicate yet bold in flavors, it’s a rare treat to get in a top-notch coffee spot.

Strolling through the trendy El Born, filled with small boutiques and cute tucked-away cafés with terraces, you can’t miss stopping by Cafés El Magnífico. Started as a traditional coffee roastery in 1919, Salvador Sans has developed his family business to cover a range of single-origin specialty coffees alongside popular blends for a loyal customer base.

Ending my quick west-to-east walk through the city, I was happy to make it to Poble Nou, just in time to pop into Nømad Roaster’s Home and Skye Coffee Co. Nømad is a local roastery, owned by Jordi Mestre. As a previous Barista Champion of Spain and having worked in London’s Nude Coffee, Jordi developed an internationally known leading brand, based in Barcelona, and focused on the best quality beans.

Operating out of a CitroenHY van parked in an industrial-style office space, Skye Coffee is probably the most unusual of the spots I visited. With a pared down, simple menu offering Right Side Coffee and a beautiful bright space with wifi, it’s the perfect spot to wind down for a minute, or spend the rest of my rainy autumn afternoon.

Barcelona took me by surprise. Of course, there’s the abundance of places to go for traditional tapas at the bar (I tried El Vaso De Oro and Quimet & Quimet, both incredibly tasty, and incredibly traditional) or for a plate of paella (Barraca); even natural wine (my favorite alcoholic beverage) is making its appearance (Bar Brutal is a must-visit), but it’s the exponentially growing coffee scene that we need to keep our eyes on. This includes a wide range of concepts, from small high-volume spots, over geeky slow-coffee-only cafés to neighborhood hang-outs with excellent brunch, or a counter in a cycle shop; from local roastery outlets to multi-roaster cafés… Barcelona seems to benefit tremendously from a scene that is ready to move beyond the traditional dark-roasted cortado and robusta blends, and is building on the modern, creative, and inspiring ideas from across the globe, to develop a diverse, passionate, young coffee scene worth exploring. Any time of year.