What coffee is Barcelona known for?

What coffee is Barcelona known for?

Barcelona, a city renowned for its unique culture, fantastic architecture, and rich history, also boasts a thriving coffee scene that’s been undergoing a specialty coffee revolution in recent years. As a city at the forefront of modern gastronomy, it’s no surprise that Barcelona has caught the third wave of coffee, a movement towards high-quality, artisanal production from bean to brew. Let’s delve into the intriguing world of Barcelona’s unique coffee culture, focusing on its prominent and popular types of coffee.

Coffee Culture in Barcelona

Traditionally, Barcelona’s coffee culture was heavily influenced by Italian coffee traditions, with classic coffee beverages like the ‘café con leche’ (coffee with milk) and the ‘cortado’ (espresso cut with a small amount of warm milk) reigning supreme. However, with the advent of third-wave coffee, Barcelona’s café scene has been invigorated with a new sense of creativity and a focus on the ethics of coffee sourcing and brewing.

Third-Wave Coffee in Barcelona

The third-wave coffee movement is a relatively recent development, focusing on high-quality, sustainable sourcing, and artisan brewing techniques. Barcelona is at the forefront of this movement in Spain. Baristas treat coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, not a commodity, and direct trade with coffee growers is highly valued.

The city is now home to an increasing number of specialty coffee shops and roasters that value the quality and ethical sourcing of their beans. These coffeehouses work closely with growers, often visiting the plantations to understand the process, from the type of soil and altitude that the beans grow at to the washing and drying process.

Espresso-Based Drinks

While a standard café con leche is still a beloved option, Barcelona’s coffee aficionados also savor a wide variety of espresso-based drinks. For instance, the ‘cortado,’ deriving its name from the Spanish verb ‘cortar’ (to cut), is a popular choice, made with equal parts espresso and steamed milk to ‘cut’ the acidity. The ‘bombón,’ an indulgent espresso concoction combined with condensed milk, also holds its charm, particularly for those with a sweet tooth.

Carajillo – An Interesting Fusion

One unique coffee that Barcelona is known for is the ‘carajillo,’ a combination of coffee and liquor. This is a strong drink typically made by combining espresso with Spanish brandy, rum, or whisky, then adding sugar. Originating from the time of the Spanish occupation in Cuba, the carajillo was initially created by Spanish troops who mixed coffee with rum to give them courage (coraje in Spanish, hence the name). The carajillo remains a popular choice today, especially as an after-dinner digestif.

Café con Hielo – The Iced Delight

As the Mediterranean climate warms up in the summer, Barcelona’s coffee culture adapts. The ‘café con hielo,’ literally translating to “coffee with ice,” becomes the city’s favorite refresher. It’s served as a single or double espresso shot alongside a glass of ice. To enjoy it the Catalan way, add sugar to the hot espresso, stir until dissolved, then pour the sweetened coffee over the ice.

Coffee Roasters and Coffeehouses

Some of Barcelona’s best-known coffee roasters, such as Nomad Coffee and Right Side Coffee, emphasize the farm-to-cup concept, ensuring not just an excellent cup of coffee but also promoting sustainability. These roasters, along with a host of others, supply beans to the city’s specialty coffeehouses.

Places like Satan’s Coffee Corner, Onna Coffee, and Skye Coffee Co. have cultivated reputations as leading specialty coffee shops. These venues are not just known for their outstanding coffee but also their ambiance, service, and often their food menus.

Cupping Sessions and Workshops

Barcelona’s coffee culture goes beyond simply drinking coffee. Many coffeehouses and roasters offer cupping sessions and brewing workshops, demonstrating various brewing methods like the V60, AeroPress, or Chemex. Coffee lovers can learn about the different coffee varietals, how to taste coffee, and how to brew the perfect cup at home.


Barcelona’s coffee culture is vibrant, diverse, and growing. This city is not just famous for its unique architectural marvels and delicious tapas, but it’s also becoming a hub for specialty coffee in Europe. From traditional café con leche to innovative coffee cocktails and specialty brews, Barcelona’s coffee scene has something to please every coffee lover. The increasing emphasis on ethical sourcing and artisanal brewing techniques makes coffee in Barcelona not just a beverage but an immersive cultural experience.