Barcelona offers a lot to a lot of people. You’ve got Gaudi and his colourful, wacky architecture dotted around the city. You’ve got the Gothic quarter which dates back to Medieval and even Roman times with its labyrinth of tiny streets. There’s the beach, the cathedrals, the tapas and the wine. And hopefully one day I’ll get round to writing about some of those things. But today I’m here to talk about coffee.
I’m a tea person. I want tea when I wake up in the morning- milk and one sugar. Everyday for the first 18 years of my life, I woke up to a mug of hot tea next to my bed. I love tea. But in Barcelona I’m getting in touch with my unexplored coffee side- and for good reason. You cannot walk a block without passing a well established cafe that offers good coffee with whatever else they’ve got going on.
More often than not, cafes are synonymous with delicious pastries that take a lot of will power to overlook. I was pleasantly surprised but also confused upon arriving in Barcelona. I’d just come from France- land of the pastries- to find that neighboring Spain offers almost as high a quality and possibly a higher quantity of pastry shops. The main difference being that France own the bragging rights and according to the rest of the world- are the specialists in this area. And while this may be true, Spain comes in a close second, scoring extra points for humility.
Spain possesses a vast vocabulary when it comes to all things coffee, ordering a plain “café” will get you quizzical looks from the server. There are a variety of ways to enjoy your cuppa. The most popular choice is ‘cafe con leche’ (coffee with milk) which is an espresso with hot milk added. ‘Cafe solo’ would be your Espresso, Cafe Cortado is ‘stained coffee’ where just a drop of milk is added to the espresso. If you’re after a milker option the uncommon, latte-like, ‘Leche Manchada’ is a little coffee and a lot of milk. Cafe con Hielo or Coffee with Ice is an espresso poured over a block of ice. Cafe bonbon is sweetened with condensed milk. Cafe bonbon con hielo- sweetened coffee on ice.
*I’m a cafe con leche girl.
Coffee culture thrives so well here that you can make it your mission to visit a cafe daily and not go to the same one twice – they are literally on every block, on every street, in every neighborhood. They come in all shapes and sizes and of course some are better than others! We used to frequent the one featured below because of its close proximity to our house (15 steps away). Its definitely one of the quirkier cafes with a homly seating arrangement- popular for meet up groups and working on your laptop. But there’s definitely better coffee to be found- so we continued our search.
By the time I leave Spain I imagine I would have spent a fair amount of money on the coffee hunt, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Cafe culture is special and brings people together- don’t mind if I do.