Whether you’re stepping inside the Guggenheim, sampling pintxos (Northern Spain’s delicious answer to tapas), or exploring the idyllic La Concha Beach, there’s plenty worth experiencing in the Basque Country.
Equally worth exploring are the area’s specialty coffee shops, which have popped up to meet the growing demand from tourists and locals for quality coffee delivered in a social setting.
In this tour, I’ll highlight five specialty coffee shops worth visiting across the three major Basque Country cities of Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz, and San Sebastián.
Lee este artículo en español Un Recorrido Por Las Tiendas de Café Del País Vasco, España
Streets of Vitoria-Gasteiz. Credit: Alberto Cabello
Why These Five?
Choosing a region’s best coffee shops, especially when it is a region as big as the Basque Country, is impossible. Instead, I’m sharing my personal favourites. It’s a list of five I’ve personally visited and enjoyed. I’ve found them to consistently have an excellent variety of coffee, friendly and knowledgeable baristas, and an inviting atmosphere. All of them, in my opinion, are must-visit cafés when exploring this corner of Spain.
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Espresso being extracted into a cup. Credit: Gabi Miranda
With its welcoming atmosphere, extensive specialty coffee selection, and modern decor, this coffee shop has been serving Vitoria-Gasteiz residents for ten years now. Having started up at a time when specialty coffee wasn’t that popular in the region, they’ve grown demand to the point where they were required to open their own roastery, Trike Koffee Roasters, in 2017.
Honorio Garcia is the founder of both Cafetaza and Trike Coffee Roasters, and is also a trained barista, Q-Grader, and AST. Together with his SCA barista team, he regularly visits Colombia, Panama, El Salvador, and Brazil to source beans directly from farmers.
At Trike Koffee Roasters, Garcia uses a 6 kg Giesen Roaster and attracts local coffee enthusiasts through tasting sessions, as well as the chance to enrol in SCA-certified courses.
|Where||Union Square 2, Vitoria-Gasteiz|
|Espresso Machine||Gaggia G6+|
|Grinder||Mahlkönig EK 43 and Victoria Arduino Mythos One|
|Coffee Offerings||Coffee-based cocktails, filter coffees, cold brews, and nitro cold brews|
|Must-Try Drink||Aguapanela, a Colombian drink combining lime juice, cold brew, and ice|
|Retail Offerings||Coffee beans and brewing equipment are available in store and online|
|Food & Other Drinks||Juice, fruit, biscuits, cookies, and snacks|
|Nearby Sights||It’s near Salburua Park, a wetlands sanctuary with plant and animal life, as well as ample space for running, walking, and exploring|
Milk and espresso drink. Credit: Matt Hoffman
2. Café Batzarre
Craving good coffee, good food, and good beer in Vitoria-Gasteiz? Café Batzarre can offer you all three. Run by husband and wife Rafael and Claudia Veitía since 2015, it’s a place where visitors can enjoy single origin coffee, draft beer, or local wine – depending on what they feel like at the moment.
Have any questions about coffee? The baristas are happy to share their passion for coffee with you, and will answer any questions you have regarding coffee origins, profiles, processes, aromas, and flavours – so don’t hesitate to visit!
|Where||Valladolid Street 12, Vitoria-Gasteiz|
|Espresso Machine||Gaggia G6|
|Grinder||Markibar ASPE S3|
|Coffee Offerings||The café stocks a range of Trike Koffee beans|
|Must-Try Drink||A classic flat white|
|Retail Offerings||You can purchase Trike Koffee beans for home use|
|Food & Other Drinks||Pintxos, omelettes, and sweets, as well as baked goods such as muffins and cookies|
|Nearby Sights||It’s near the Artium Museum, which houses a range of modern art from influential Spanish artists such as Salvador Dali|
Baristas at work at Café Batzarre. Credit: Café Batzarre
3. The Tap
This brew pub in Vitoria-Gasteiz attracts a wide range of eclectic customers looking for their morning coffee or afternoon beer. Once you step foot inside The Tap, don’t be surprised if you find yourself challenged to a board game with someone you’ve just met, or improving your French skills with a stranger who happens to sit near your table.
If board games aren’t your thing, the Tap’s ‘80s replica arcade will keep you occupied for hours. And as this brew pub serves coffee, delicious seasonal specialties, and fresh craft beer, you could end up spending hours here.
|Where||Manuel Iradier Kalea 7, Vitoria-Gasteiz|
|Espresso Machine||La Marzocco Linea Classic|
|Grinder||Mythos One and Mahlkönig K30|
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso-based drinks, seasonal cold brew, nitro cold brew, frappés, and filter coffee|
|Must-Try Drink||Try out the bombón – an espresso and condensed milk drink|
|Retail Offerings||250 g bags of espresso or filter coffee|
|Food & Other Drinks||Menu highlights include pintxos, tortilla española (Spanish omelette), and Nutella supercookies|
|Nearby Sights||Situated in the heart of Vitoria-Gasteiz, you can explore nearby medieval architecture or visit the Virgin Blanca statue|
Just one of the colourful characters you could bump into at The Tap. Credit: The Tap
4. Bihotz Café
This small, cosy coffee shop will make you feel right at home. It’s warm and inviting decor will quickly put you at ease as you sip on a specialty coffee. The team that you’ll find running this café has a passion for coffee, something that quickly becomes clear as you sample the menu.
Another specialty you can enjoy at Bihotz Café is artisanal beer: it has six rotating taps and an extensive beer menu to choose from. In addition to this, they also offer treats such as toasted sandwiches and carrot cake.
|Where||Arechaga Kalea 6, 48003 Bilbao, Bizkaia|
|Espresso Machine||Marzocco Linea PB|
|Grinder||Nuova Simonelli Mythos One|
|Coffee Offerings||Espresso, V60, and cold brew in the summer|
|Must-Try Drink||Irish coffee or V60|
|Retail Offerings||Beans from a variety of roasters|
|Food & Other Drinks||Fresh juice, teas, cocktails, handmade cookies, sandwiches, and vegan options|
|Nearby Sights||You can visit the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Casco Viejo in the historical quarter, or the Arriaga Theatre, which was built over 100 years ago in a Neo-Baroque style|
The quirky decor of Bihotz Café. Credit: Bihotz Café
Enter Sakona and you’ll immediately be impressed by the coffee shop’s minimalist architecture, which features natural and industrial elements such as wood, iron, and cement. Owner Javier Garcia founded the coffee shop in 2016, and since then has offered locals and visitors of San Sebastián a taste of specialty coffee.
When you order a cup of coffee from Sakona, you’ll be enjoying beans that have been roasted in the coffee shop’s own roastery in Irun.
Garcia is as passionate about customer service as he is about coffee, and participated in Barista Championships from 2006 to 2014 to test his skills against other expert Spanish baristas.
|Where||Av Ramón Maria Lili 2, Donostia/San Sebastián|
|Espresso Machine||Victoria Arduino Black Eagle|
|Grinder||Mahlkönig EK43 and Victoria Arduino Mythos One|
|Coffee Offerings||Three to four different coffees offered as espresso-based drinks or filter, batch brew, and cooled filter coffee (but no cold brew)|
|Must-Try Drink||Order the Trio, which is the same origin served as an espresso, single shot with milk, and cup of filter|
|Food & Other Drinks||Their breakfast and brunch menu is extensive, with eggs Benedict, avocado toast, salmon, homemade granola, yoghurt, craft beers, kombucha, and fresh juice|
|Nearby Sights||Visit the nearby Zurriola beach, where you can stroll around the promenade, or take part in activities including surfing, volleyball, and beach tennis|
Baristas prepare coffee at Sakona. Credit: Sakona Coffee
The Basque Country has plenty to offer both residents and visitors, which is why it remains a top holiday destination in Spain. With so many new and existing specialty coffee shops in the area, it’s also fast becoming the place to watch for coffee enthusiasts.
The next time you have a chance to visit, make sure you visit at least one of the shops on this list.
Enjoyed this? Read A Specialty Coffee Shop Tour of Malaga, Spain
Article written by Pablo Escalante. Featured photo: Magda Rosell
All views within this opinion piece belong to the guest writer, who is a local of the Basque Country, and do not reflect Perfect Daily Grind’s stance.
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