This post is dedicated to the endless amounts of wonderful cafés in Madrid. While I obviously haven’t had enough time to visit all of the places that I want to, I have been able to make a sizable dent considering that my friends and I are always eager to grab a coffee. (Hence the title of this post – ¿Tomamos otro café?) Actually, there is a Spanish love song from the 90s’ by an Italian singer Piero that I think accurately describes my relationship with coffee in Madrid…
“Tomamos un café,
después otro café”
First off, I’ll just preface by explaining that coffee in Spain is quite different than in America. You don’t just go to a Starbucks or Wawa to pick up a giant cup of coffee. The locals like to have their café con leche out of a small clear glass while standing at the bar. Some places actually charge more if you have your coffee sitting at a table. Its as much of a social event, or an excuse to not be productive, as it is a practical energy boost. While Starbucks does exist in Spain (or should I say… “Estarbucks”?) I try to avoid it because there are so many better options. Here are a couple of places that I’ve tried so far and would most definitely recommend to anyone who visits Madrid.
1. Cafélito: Calle Sombrerete, 20, 28012 Madrid – Metro Lavapiés
Behind the massive wooden doors of Cafélito hides a cozy, dimly-lit nook of friendly coffee-drinkers chatting, working and reading. There is cute, little Take-Away window if you need to grab a coffee to go. While the food is quite limited (just muffins, tostadas, and cake) Cafélito has plenty of delicious coffee and tea options. They always have a list of specialty infusions and drinks, like the Barraquita for example… A unique coffee with condensed milk, “orujo” (a sweet brandy from Northern Spain) and lemon zest. I’d definitely say that Cafélito is a great addition to the up and coming Lavapies neighborhood.
2. Pum Pum Café: Calle Tribulete, 6, 28012 Madrid – Metro Lavapies
Pum Pum has a very hip, “European” vibe… if I do say so myself. The distressed brick walls and hanging plants makes for a very artsy feel – which I love! The service is relaxingly slow-paced, the staff is super friendly and the tables extend out into the street. They serve lunch: salads, sandwiches, tostadas and burgers all day. However the brunch is super popular. There are also always these delicious looking vegan breads on display: mandarin, banana, and zucchini. So tempting…!
3. La Duquesita: Calle Fernando VI, 2, 28004 Madrid – Metro Alonso Martínez
Even though La Duquesita isn’t technically a café, it is one of the most famous patisseries in Madrid. La Duquesita’s claim to fame is their croissants, which are said to be the best in Madrid (or technically “el mejor croissant artesano”). Nely and I agree! The croissants were fabulous, as well as the café americano. Plus, the inside is completely renovated, clean and elegantly decorated. Forewarning, La Duquesita is pretty small; there isn’t much space to linger. However, many Spaniards seemed to be coming and going, grabbing their croissants or pastries to go.
4. Federal Café: Plaza de las Comendadoras, 9, 28015 Madrid – Metro Noviciado
Now if you’re looking for a place to relax for an hour while chatting and having a great meal, Federal Café is the place for you. Federal is a modern chain started by two young entrepreneurs from the small town of Federal, Australia. There are now multiple Federal Café locations all around Spain, including Barcelona and Valencia. Hidden in the small streets of Malasaña, Federal has a super casual atmosphere. There are giant open windows that allow guests to sit half outside. And even more, they are open all day and serve food and drink all day. During weekdays its a popular coffee spot for brunch and a quiet work-space, but on weekends people also get dinner and drinks. Speaking for myself, I already cannot wait to go back!
5. La Bicicleta: Plaza de San Ildefonso, 9, 28004 Madrid – Metro Chueca, Gran Vía, Tribunal
La Bicicleta is yet another hip coffee shop/bar – there are endless options! Like Federal Café, La Bicicleta is open all day from 10 AM to 2 AM. They define the space as a “Workplace, Gallery, and Cycling Café”. Upon entering it seems crowded and noisy, but there is a large room in the back with plenty of small tables and giant leather sofas. There is also a designated working area with wooden tables with outlets and easily accessible wifi. La Bicicleta has a decent-sized menu with salads, sandwiches, bagels (God knows every American needs to satisfy their bagel fix!) and cakes and cookies, all made with artisanal and ecological ingredients.
I’m sure by now you’re all probably starving from reading this (as am I !) Hopefully now you have more of an idea about the café lifestyle of Madrid, because it is such an important part of the city experience. Before I studied abroad in Sevilla my mom told me that I would come home from Europe a coffee addict. Now I have finally excepted it… I think she was right! There are so many cafés, it is almost overwhelming. But what better place to embrace my new coffee addiction than Madrid!
In case you’re curious about that song…