Weekend Warrior Series: A Guide to the Best Coffee Shops in Barcelona, Spain

It’s official: I have found my favorite coffee shop in Barcelona. Now I’m just going to move here for good. There have been other great coffee shops in this city, but when I walked into Espai Joliu they were playing the song “Two Weeks” by Grizzly Bear and I felt right at home. The next song was another comfortable feeling indy song which sounds like it came straight out of a How I Met Your Mother soundtrack from 2009 and I love it.

I had been trying to go to this coffee shop for a couple weeks but I the first time I tried to go it was closed (they didn’t open until 2pm on Monday’s when I was abroad Summer of 2017) and every time after that it was a challenge to get to from my apartment by La Sagrada Familia. I took a bus halfway there, then walked half a mile through the quieter artsy/industrial feeling neighborhood Poblenou and only got lost like, twice. VERY off the main drag of shops and tourist attractions near Plaza Catalunya/Las Ramblas. Like, on the WHOLE other side of the city, which made the experience feel more authentic.

In Spain, at many authentic coffee shops, I don’t pay until I was done with my coffee which I think is an interesting custom. In the U.S. we pay for our coffee right away and then go sit down with it, but in Spain they bring it to you and when you’re done you pay. I like this because it shows that they trust you and you have time to enjoy your coffee before worrying about what it costs.

This experience inspired me to compose a complete list of the other amazing coffee shops I’ve come upon in my adventures here and what makes them tick, as well as some general advice for the standard coffee addict in Spain. Keep in mind that I had been in Spain for only a month, and lived in Catalunya which is only one region of Spain which, which may have different customs than the other regions. I’m sure that if I stayed longer or traveled to other parts of the country there would be a lot more to learn.

Coffee in Spain is a way of life rather than a biological need for caffeine (when it seems like a custom to always be awake until past midnight how could this caffeinated wonder drink not be?). The portion sizes are smaller, but cups of coffee are consumed more than once a day. So rather than just one giant cup of coffee in the morning, it’s a few smaller coffees throughout the day to keep the buzz goin’.

Coffee is el “Rey”

Here’s your amateur insider’s guide to ordering cafe en Espana:

Diferentes tipos de café:

  • Cafe Solo– Single espresso shot without milk. It is the base of the rest of the Spanish coffee drinks
  • Cafe con Leche– A drink made with espresso and a 1:1 ratio of scalded milk. Probably the most popular kind of coffee in Spain, and I have been told that it usually isn’t a drink for locals to consume after lunchtime.
  • Cafe con Hielo “Iced coffee”- Not as popular of a concept as in the U.S, it is just a shot of espresso poured over ice
  • Americano- Your standard espresso shot with added water
  • Cortado– A cafe solo espresso shot with a dash of milk
  • Cappucino- Espresso shot with steamed milk
  • Carajillo- The “Irish Coffee” of Spain. Am I allowed to say that? I think I am… I’m Irish. It’s one shot of espresso and one part brandy or rum or whiskey. Yeeeeeeaa.

Here in Barcelona and other parts I have traveled in Spain, there have been ample substitutions available for cow’s milk for if you’re lactose free or prefer not to drink cow’s milk. Leche de soja (soymilk) is one option and leche de avena (oat milk) is another. I haven’t seen almond milk or coconut milk anywhere here yet… but then again, in the U.S. I haven’t seen oat milk as a substitute. I like it a lot!

There are SO MANY amazing coffee shops in Barcelona and I wish that I had time to visit all of them but alas, I was only abroad for the Summer. SO:

Here’s a list of some of the coffee shops I have been to in Barcelona and a little excerpt about them:

Bosque de las Fades Cafe 

Bosque de las Fades is straight out of a fairytale land. It’s more on the tourist attraction side of experiences than some of the other shops on this list, and was it here that I ordered my first coffee in Spain. I was pretty nervous about not making a fool of myself. I got a “cortado” and it was smaller than I was expecting but very delicious. The place is adorned with a small waterfall, and multiple separated rooms with antique decor and an magical sense of character. It’s located close to Las Ramblas en el Barrio Gótico and open every day of the year from 10am to 1am, and weekends till 2am.

Valkiria Hubspace by Polbenou

I found the Valkiria Hubspace when I wasn’t even looking for it. I was wanting to go to Espai Joliu but it was closed so I wandered around the neighborhood and found this place instead. It turns out that it’s not a coffee shop at all, but a hubspace for professional work events… oops. Nevertheless, it was a great space to sit down and get work done. There was a big open extra room with a stage for performances and really cute decor.

Brunch and Cake (by the Sea)

Brunch and Cake by the Sea isn’t exactly a coffee shop either, but I had to throw it in there because the mocha I had there was divine. The food was divine as well, and it was situated right on la Barceloneta marina: perfect fun to sit outside and people watch and look at the enormous boats in the harbor and wonder about their owners and where they came from all around the world. Be warned, there will probably be a line to be seated. We didn’t wait any longer than half an hour, though. They have menus in English, Spanish, and Catalan. It’s a HUGE tourist attraction. They’re open Monday-Sunday 9am-7pm.

Two more top spots:

Galeria Cosmo

Galeria Cosmo is a cafe and contemporary art space which hosts concerts, cultural courses, pop-up shops & events. It has a cozy and relaxed atmosphere. My favorite decoration was a repurposed pick up truck turned into a table to sit at. The shop is close to the University Plaza right next to the University of Barcelona. They’re open Monday to Sunday 10.00am-10pm.

La Clandestina

La Clandestina was a really special space. It’s a tearoom rather than a coffee shop, but I got an orange flavored “mexican” coffee (spicy!) which came in a pretty silver teapot. Like most places in the Barrio Gótico it took some effort to find because it was located in a tiny ally where all of the shops were similar in appearance on the outside. It was decorated with twinkle lights and fresh flowers. They serve food, tea, coffee and pastries and an atmosphere that makes you want to stick around and enjoy the relaxed bohemian vibes. They’re open 10am-10pm Wednesday-Monday and closed all day on Tuesday.

SO GO CHECK THEM OUT. And let me know if there are any other coffee shops in Barcelona that you recommend! 🙂

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