The Perfect Blend: Barcelona’s Top Coffee Hotspots
First, a Quickfire Guide to Ordering Coffee in Spain (because we’re spoiled for choice)…
Un Café Solo ~ A slightly longer than normal espresso
Un Cortado ~ An espresso served with a dash of warm milk in a shot glass
Un Café con Leche ~ A one-shot espresso topped up with steamy hot milk in a tall glass
Cappuccino ~ Universal!
Un Espresso – Universal!
Un Americano ~ Large black filter coffee
Un Café con Hielo ~ Black coffee with ice
Els 4 Gats
Spain is famous for its black-as-midnight coffee-in-a-tiny-cup, and where better to sample a shot of this extra strong brew than at the city’s iconic Els 4 Gats? This Barcelona institution (founded in 1897) was the beating heart of the city’s avant-garde art scene, with patrons including Picasso. For those of you familiar with Carlos Ruis Zafón’s Barcelona based novel “The Shadow of the Wind”, this place comes up a lot! As 4 Gats reputation precedes it, the prices are somewhat loftier than in many more local haunts, but it’s worth those extra few centimes to admire the spectacular Modernista features and iconic artwork.
+34 93 302 41 40
Granja M. Viader
Founded in 1870, this traditional Catalan Granja* is still run by the same family (now in its fifth generation), whom according to local lore invented “Cacaolat” – the ancestor of Nesquik that is still popular in Catalunya today. The interior is unassuming and traditional (think the Spanish equivalent of a British greasy spoon meets classic American diner), and the atmosphere is constantly whirring with charming and handsome waiters. The coffee is tasty but what folks really flock here for is the thick homemade hot chocolate with hand-whipped cream, deliciously rich and particularly good with delightfully crispy churros (oh so sinful).
+34 93 318 34 86
*Granjas are historically where milk and dairy produce were distributed and tend to remain traditional stockists of hot chocolate and churros.
Designed by Barcelona-based interior mastermind Jaime Beriestain, We Pudding is an Alice-In-Wonderland themed café perfect for cheering up those rare rainy days as we move into Autumn. They serve gigantic tasty quiches and a daily selection of naughty home-made cakes under the fairytale-like circus canopy. They serve delicious coffee in vintage china and are super popular with parents and children alike, with a banquet table covered in books, games and activities (as well as ipads to lend to their lovely patrons). For pre-teens they run a fantastic after-school club too.
C/Pau Claris 90
+34 93 676 10 25
Jaime Beriestain Concept Store
This plush haven is a recently opened mecca for lovers of design, and is the (aptly named) signature hub of Jaime Beriestain’s Barcelona-based creative empire. Think opulent velvet booths contrasting pared-back exposed brickwork adorned with candles and bell jars. The vibe is chic whilst remaining friendly and inviting. Don’t miss the miniature florist’s booth, with flowers flown in daily from Amsterdam, which gives way to the interiors shop (too tempting!). Their selection of patisserie and cakes is to die for, perfect for a celebratory coffee (or a refreshing glass of bubbles..!).
C/Pau Claris 167
+34 93 515 07 79
A little piece of Paris in the centre of Barcelona, with an upmarket bistro feel. I love their “indoor/outdoor” covered porch area, perfect for people-watching, and keeping cool in the heat of the city centre with a selection of international newspapers. Serving French coffee and home-baked croissants, c’est juste parfait!
C/Pau Claris 142
+34 93 215 12 16
Set in a sheltered courtyard providing year-round sunshine, this very sweet bohemian café in the Born area is run by a local cooperative, offering employment opportunities for disadvantaged locals. Just off some of the area’s busiest streets, this bijou terrace is an oasis of calm. With local musicians playing reggae tunes, it is a chilled atmosphere indeed. As all profits from the café go towards sending the staff to hospitality school, your coffee + cake really do go a long way in supporting the community.
+34 93 319 87 32
This buzzy venue on the fringes of Park Montjuïc is an organic hipster hangout in the up-and-coming foodie haven of Poble Sec (the district of choice for not one but 3 new restaurants by the Adrià brothers of El Bulli fame). Recommended by a savvy girlfriend, this café is a sanctuary for health-conscious locals and tourists-in-the-know. Serving seasonal, locally sourced fare and bio coffee (with free WiFi!), Bar Seco even does the catering for the Sala Montjuïc outdoor cinema (a must-visit on balmy summer evenings).
Passeig de Montjuïc 74
+34 93 329 63 74
Vamos a la Playa
Bestial is my top beachside pick, set under Frank O Gehry’s enormous bronze fish sculpture above busy San Sebastian beach. Raised up on teak decking, it feels more spacious than the neighbouring strip of glam lounge bars and has a distinctly more laid-back, Mediterranean vibe. Recline in the shade of the olive trees while palms sway in the breeze overhead. They do a great Italian inspired lunch menu, for the days when a coffee just isn’t long enough.
Top Tip: locals and tourists alike – hire an electric scooter from www.w4nted.com and glide over the packed promenade to arrive if not quite in style, at least without breaking a sweat (they’re zippy and a great fun way to see this lovely stretch of coastline).
C/Ramon Trias Fargas 2
+34 93 224 04 07