The average Spanish business man will walk into a cafe and ask for an espresso for less than 2 euros. He will throw back the espresso like a tequila shot and continue on his day. The drink was nothing more than a pick-me-up, just a substance to keep him more alert than he was minutes before.
If I told you there were only five specialty coffee shops in Barcelona would you believe me?
If I told you that the first specialty coffee shop was born just two years ago from a young 20-something-year-old, would you believe me?
If I told you, overall, Europe’s coffee scene is actually quite average - would you believe me?
It’s a bit complicated trying to paint the backdrop coffee scene for Spain without touching base on all of Europe. And of course painting a picture of an entire continent’s coffee scene is actually ludicrous. But here is what I can do, or rather what I did do, for you. I spoke with baristas, roasters, coffee business men and women that are living in Barcelona that are not only from Barcelona but New Zealand, Italy and England. It’s not the whole picture but it’s more than I have ever understood.
The following stories from these fellow coffee aficionados come from a city that rather quickly has become an international settling zone. They took practices from abroad and brought them to their new home. Local Catalans were at some point exposed to high quality coffee while living abroad and fell in love. And like many abroad love stories, they wanted to continue the relationship back home.
But there was a struggle. There was a struggle between traditional roasting Spanish families and their sons who wanted to break barriers and begin something new. There was a struggle to find the proper barista training as most old school Catalans couldn’t tell even you what a “barista” was. There was and is a constant effort to educate those about the process behind coffee and to find the value in specialty coffee and to ultimately accept the value in the price.
From a local young man who connected a roaster to his chimney, to another who began serving his coffee from a window in the back of a clothing store, to a British woman who saw the opportunity and chased it, Barcelona’s coffee shop story is young but nothing short of creative, passionate, rebellious and a story that will make you fall in love with coffee all over again.