What better way to get into a subject like coffee than having one. Cue the Nespresso machine as it grunts and pours me a no.10 strength cup.
So many ways you can have it, we went in search of a decent cup of Joe. Locals seem to have their favourite cafe for their morning break or lunch. In a rush? then have a tallat/cortado (espresso).
The usual cafe scene here is ordinarily unspectacular. The majority serve up a decent beverage. Count yourself lucky if you find one with outdoor tables that catch the sun. Or, go inside for bland decor and a noisy TV blaring out the latest celebrity scandal. The rapid fire chat just adds further irritation.
My normal safe choice is a cafe amb llet / cafe con leche (coffee with milk). If you’re from the UK/USA cup sizes are smaller here, but then again you’re only paying less than 2€. Recently because of Covid more have been offering takeaways. Here again, cup sizes are small. Don’t expect anything the same size as in Starbucks. I really think someones missing a trick here.
Another recurring gripe is whenever I get served a coffee it’s always lukewarm, which makes me drink it quicker before it gets cold. I’m well aware you can ask for hot milk when you order, but I’m human and I forget.
Over the last few years the coffee scene has woken from its long slumber with some fresh new places-mostly in Girona’s old town. Hard to tell if it’s local owners with new ideas, but some are run by former foreign cyclists. The whole coffee and cycling thing is becoming almost symbiotic, frequented by a cadre of professional foreign riders who call Girona home. Handy meeting places too, and get your caffeine fix for that next hill climb.
Here’s what the two of us found, all these are in pedestrianised areas so no noisy traffic to ruin your experience.
Buttercup, Nou del Teatre, 2 (now closed-has become a restaurant)
I pass here a lot and often think it might be hard to notice this place down a narrow alley. Thoughtfully they’ve positioned a sign in the main square (Placa del Vi). Split into two seating areas the large minimalistic theme is on point, with murky blue walls and high ceilings. Extra large windows with a long bar set rather low, with small wood stools that wouldn’t look out of place in a kids nursery. The additional utilitarian table and chair sets fill the floor space politely. All complemented by a buttercup yellow (I presume) padded wall feature. A single, long wooden table dominates the second space which also features a small shop area. Nice but not overloaded front window display of homemade cakes and cookies to tempt you in. Remember to order at the front counter first. Food and drinks menus have an English translation, the brunch menu (18€) would have got my vote if I’d been hungrier.
Charging points? Limited spread of electric sockets and no clear indication if you can use them freely. Slightly tinny music emanated from the open kitchen-a nice smooth jazz via well positioned speakers (none) would’ve been ideal for our Sunday morning visit.
Judge the beans. We had a regular coffee/milk and a cappuccino, both 2.20€ ea. Small mug sizes served on a clay plate, no visible option for larger sizes. Perfectly fine but again, lukewarm.
Piece of cake? Oh yes, loosen that belt notch. We had a peanut butter and jelly muffin (2.80€), and a vanilla and cinnamon croissant pudding served with berry compote and creme fraiche (7.50€). Final bill 14,70€
Verdict. A heavenly escape for work from home millennials.
Coffee and Greens, Rambla de la Libertad, 25
Friends who’d been here moaned about it being too draughty when the entrance door slides open. On my last visit we sat at the rear which looks out onto the river Onyar. That visit was spoiled by a workman inside drilling. This time we went with a clean slate. The not too wide frontage probably explains their in-your-face window full of what they offer. Dog friendly too so we took our two mutts.
Urban dwellers will like the honest, stark interior, lots of wood, steel and bare brick. Nice touch is an indoor parking spot for your precious bike.
Not enough customers for outdoor tables at the time of our visit.
Charging points? Good number of them are spaced about.
Judge the beans. We had an iced caramel latte (4€) and a Large latte (3.20€). Nice large cup for my latte, but yes, you’ve guessed it, lukewarm. Good news, someone’s listening, they offer a small and large option on many drinks.
Piece of cake? Cakes and pastries on display were largely absent, so not this time. We were more tempted by the eclectic selection of toasties, bagels, sandwiches and ‘energy bowls’. We shared the Eggs benedict (10€) and a Caprese sandwich (7€). Final bill 24,20€
Verdict. Coffee and Greens could become a new noun phrase like bread and butter.
La Fabrica (The Factory) Carrer de la Llebre, 3
Popular amongst the cycling fraternity, hidden away down a side street off C/Ciutadans. We felt out of place as a constant stream of lycra clad cyclists parked their bikes in the cycle rack they provide. Plentiful outdoor tables in a quiet spot surrounded by old town historic charm. Inside it’s well decorated, a cosy interior space I liked spending time looking over. One side has a series of recessed alcoves, each differently and thoughtfully decorated. An honourably sufficient spread of pastries on the counter, and an enticing selection of snacks that would leave your local hipster scratching his beard trying to decide.
Charging points? Not really, maybe it doesn’t encourage laptop lingering.
Judge the beans. Flat white and my usual, a latte both 2.50€ ea. Small cups and I’m getting predictably repetitive, yes lukewarm.
Piece of cake? Go on then, just a tiny piece. We had a generous slice of the Hummingbird cake (banana, walnut, pineapple, 5€) and an avocado on toast, with red pepper, sweetcorn, feta, green sprouts topped with an egg, (8.50€). Total bill 18.50€
Verdict. Lean mean cycle hangout for beautiful bikes.