After decades of café con leche and churros or the classic carajillo, coffee with brandy, for breakfast, Madrid has finally started to win the fight against torrefacto, a process where coffee beans are roasted with sugar. We are moving on from the myth that coffee must be enjoyed dark, intense, and burning hot, and welcoming specialty coffees with open arms. This list includes some of the cafes on the vanguard of bringing Madrid coffee into the specialty era.
Toma Café can boast being the pioneers of good coffee in the capital city. Argentine natives Santi Rigoni and Patricia Alda came to Spain with a crazy idea in their heads after a trip to the United States. Their small coffee space was born in 2011, in the modern neighborhood of Malasaña. The couple served their Blend Santo, probably the coffee that brought most of the Madrid locals into this scene. Later, pour-over coffee, toasted sourdough bread, single-origin, piccolo, and cold brew would follow.
Rigoni and Alda currently roast their own specialty coffees and have a new store, Toma Café 2, next to an iconic square in the Chamberí neighborhood. It is a good place to try their seasonal toasts (such as ricotta and apricot), their brunch dishes, or enjoy a snack and natural wines at the evening sessions that are organized every so often. Also, they give coffee classes and have their own radio studio and organic distribution system within Madrid.
Nicho Han always says that he was able to succeed with his specialty coffee thanks to the cakes baked by his wife, Eva. Together, they ran a bakery that was successful in Usera, Madrid’s Chinatown. The coffee was secondary until they moved to Malasaña. At HanSo, you can have an outstanding espresso and a pour-over coffee that are among the best in Madrid. Their grinders often have Right Side Coffee and Nømad (Barcelona), as well as coffee from notable European roasters (Gardelli, Bonanza, April).
The food menu is astonishing and, as well as the toast made with Obrador San Francisco bread, you have to try the rice flour waffles and the “thousand layer” cakes of Chinese inspiration. On weekends, long queues form at the door, so if you want to enjoy your coffee in peace, it’s best to go in the afternoon.
Welcome to the dream of Pablo Cabellero, best barista in Spanish Barista Champion 2016, and Nola Botana, one of the best coffee roasters on the national panorama. Together, they designed this coffee shop where the wabi-sabi mixes with the plants and good music. This is craftsmanship in its purest form, from the handmade cups by Laon Pottery to the homemade kombucha and a menu where only seasonal produce can be found. On its wooden benches we can find local gallerists, actors, pensioners, and fans of specialty coffee.
At Hola Coffee, they make sure to select and roast (in their own independent space) exceptional coffees that they sell all around the world. Also, they give advice to other coffee businesses, serve coffee at events, organize tastings, and are SCA-certified trainers. Their merchandise is created by the designer Miriam Persand and it’s not difficult to fall for one of their t-shirts or tote bags.
A step away from the Reina Sofía Contemporary Art Museum, we find this small coffee shop designed as a take-away, where they serve and distribute coffee from Dabov, the most well-known roaster in Bulgaria and active participants in the Cup of Excellence program.
With its beautiful Mirage by Kees van der Westen espresso machine and Kalita as preferred pour-over method, they prepare everything from house blends to exceptional coffees from multiple origins. The owners, Rumen Stoykov and Kristiyana Ancheva, have placed all of the focus on the coffee, which you can enjoy with a homemade cake.
Dropping in to Acid is like traveling to Nordic countries without leaving the Letras neighborhood of Madrid. Among traditional taverns and verses by Cervantes and Quevedo, we find this space with an industrial design, brewing coffee from Danish roaster La Cabra. They serve an exotic seasonal menu that ranges from Turkish eggs to toast with miso and Chantilly cream, even French toast with meringue ice cream and hibiscus syrup.
Acid’s lightly roasted coffee is well enjoyed as a pour-over, but also in drinks with milk using the Kees van der Westen espresso machine and prepared with water in exactly the same way as their Danish colleagues. It’s a minimalist place where nothing takes away from the sole protagonist: coffee.
Misión is probably the most Instagram-worthy coffee shop in Madrid. Thanks to its careful design, from the benches by the only Modbar coffee machine in the capital city to the selection of coffees roasted by Hola Coffee. This classic specialty coffeehouse creates another twist by adding a unique dish of the day, daring baking, and natural wines.
Everything is prepared fresh each day in an open kitchen and bakery, and they have loyal devotees who visit them for their vegan cookies, porridge, or praline brioche. The coffee recipes also vary depending on the season, from cold brew to dirty horchata in the summer or pumpkin spice latte in autumn. A place to enjoy and to be seen.
Ana Rubio is a freelance journalist based in Madrid. This is Ana Rubio’s first feature for Sprudge.