Skye Coffee was, and will be, one of the most impressive coffee spaces I have ever walked into.
Imagine a hangar, you know - the kind for airplanes (are there any other kinds?) just tucked in between other buildings in a quiet neighborhood. A perked-up chalk board displays a sketch of ice cubes and an “Iced coffee” at the entrance. Even though it’s just lines of chalk, the drawn ice cubes look enticing in this Barca heat wave.
You step inside and immediately realize this coffee shop is different, this coffee shop has a story. But also important, you are relieved at the sight of giant ceilings fans as you remove the sweat from your brow. Air conditioning has been scarce.
Glimmering back at you is a sleek, antique metallic van. I hold my inner child back as I avoid sprinting towards the van. I keep cool and walk slowly. But then I remember, there is some damn good coffee being served in that van, and it's been a while since I've had good coffee here - and I quicken my pace.
I order my coffee from an Australian barista, who is easy-on-the-eyes, and I begin to prod him. How did you get to Barcelona? Why here? What should I order? Can I go inside the van? (Which he finally did allow me to do - and it was like a little oven in there) And I asked pretty much any question to continue to listen to his Aussie accent.
The interior is gleaming white with natural sunlight pouring in from different angles. Long, light wooden tables sit alongside each other. Little green plants leave dashes of green among the various shades of white and grey in the space. Deep blue, soft couches are positioned in a way that feels very much like a living room. Everything inside is bare but in the minimalistic, elegant kind of way. The tall white walls are topped off with dark steel rafters and beams, revealing the structure of the roof and your eye is lead to the back of the building.
A second floor is raised, much like a loft, with glass walls. One man is walking back and forth, and even from a distance I can spot his thickly framed eye glasses as he repositions his phone against his ear. Others are standing, hunched over a table, pointing to what one can only assume are impressive designs. This space, after all, is more than just a coffee stop - it’s also a design firm.
There are stairs that zig zag back down to the first floor, back to me and my gawking face as I mentally ask myself, “What is life."
I navigate myself to the wooden table to sit down with Skye Maunserr.
“Principally, I’m an interior designer. The coffee is my second business,” she says as a matter-of-factly in her charming Brittish accent. She sits across from me and begins to tell me her coffee journey which all really began with the van as I sip on my cortado, a warm hug to my lips. It's been a while since I've had good coffee and it tastes like home.
“The van came before the coffee,” she explains. She first purchased the van hoping to get some adventure out of it and take it to the beach. But parking became problematic and expensive. She knew she wanted to begin selling coffee from the van but in Barcelona, it is illegal to operate businesses out of vehicles in public spaces, like our food trucks. Although tapas on wheels would be magnificent.
"Everyone is pushing for that [law] to change, but it will take a long time. So, because we have such a big space I realized we can park it here." And that's how Skye Coffee was born.
There are industrial touches here and there that are subtle reminders to what the place once was; another industrial hub left empty as businesses sought for real estate outside of the city.
"I think creative people, in the fashion photography, designer, architectural world strive to find places like these. We want places like this to make it our own."
The neighborhood is slowly becoming more attractive to those creative type. The sepcialty coffee drink is also slowly becoming more appreciated. But just ask any local, it's definitely new and has a long way to go.
"The beginning was slow because the specialty coffee scene is very new here - there is maybe five of us doing it now, but when I started there was one guy who really started it all."
That one guy is a young owner of Satan's Coffee - fanastic space and coffee - which we will get to later.
Skye purchases her coffee generally from Spain, from Right Roasters to be exact. I ended up outside of the city to visit Right Roaster one day, but we will also get to that another time. She has had Cafe Grumpy from New York, Parlor Coffee in Brooklyn and Counter Culture.
"The more you open yourself up to coffee, the more you get intrigued and the more passionate and obsessed you become with it and you surprise yourself with it. And that is what is so interesting and fun."
I think we all have that moment where we realize there will never be an end to learning coffee - and that's exactly what keeps us coming back.
Mugs up to Skye Manseurr for following her passion and making her dream a reality - a beautiful warehouse-with-a-coffee-van reality. :)