Lisbon is known for many things. It is a city known for its scenery, historical landmarks, music, food, and yellow tram. Its coffee scene is beginning to become a part of everyone’s itinerary when visiting Lisbon.
Portugal’s love for coffee dates way back to the 18th century when coffee was brought back from the ex-colonies of Portugal. Now, Portugal is home to a lot of specialty coffee shops, especially in Lisbon.
Tourists will usually go to monuments and restaurants but if you are a coffee-lover and want to visit Portugal soon, you do not want to miss out on the coffee scene in Lisbon. These coffee shops are some of the third-wave coffee shop pioneers in Lisbon where you will find specialty coffee shops and freshly baked goods to go along with your coffee.
In this article are some of Lisbon’s best coffee shops that you will want to visit when you go to Portugal.
History Of The Lisbon Coffee Scene
It was during D. João’s reign that coffee was introduced in Brazil by Francisco de Melo Palheta. Coffee was then introduced to Portugal as Brazil was part of the Portuguese colonies at that time. Coffee was also introduced to Africa back in the 1800s, namely, Angola, Cabo Verde, and São Tomé – which also were colonies of Portugal back then.
Since coffee came from a faraway place, it was first considered a luxury because of its steep price. Public cafés opened in Lisbon in the 19th century and coffee became an integral part of the local’s daily habits.
Some of the very first cafés established in Lisbon in the 10th century are still open to this day and are still operating, namely, Martinho da Arcada and A Brasileira.
For a country that has a love for coffee, Portugal actually imports coffee beans from South American and African countries. Apart from a village on São Jorge Island in the Azores, Portugal does not grow coffee beans.
Portuguese usually roasts a mix of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans which they drink as an Espresso, which is a robust black coffee.
Traditional Portuguese Coffee vs Specialty Coffee
Portugal’s coffee scene can be categorized into traditional and Specialty coffee. Traditional coffee is everywhere in Lisbon and is all part of Portugal’s culture. You can have it in bakeries, snack bars, or pastelarias.
Bica, or Portuguese Espresso, is often served in these pastelarias. When coffee first arrived in Portugal, locals thought it to be very bitter and so the café A Brasileira put up a sign that said “Bebe Isto Com Açúcar” which translates to “Drink this with sugar”. Bica is a cup of strong coffee that’s why it needs sugar to sweeten it up a little bit. Over time, the locals just call it by the phrase’s acronyms, hence the word bica.
Meia de elite, another Portuguese coffee, is an espresso that is served with half milk. Meia de elite is served in a large cup, unlike bica which is served in the usual small espresso cup.
Specialty coffees on the other hand had just recently entered Portugal’s coffee scene. These coffees are evaluated using a 100-point Coffee Scale Review. Specialty coffees are Long Black, Flat White, Cappuccinos, Macchiato, Lattes, etc.
You will find that specialty coffees are more expensive than Portuguese coffees like bica and meia de leite.
Coffee Scene In Lisbon Today
We have established that coffee culture has been a part of Portugal’s history and lifestyle. Going out for coffee is very common in Lisbon and locals often go during the mid-morning and after lunch for their coffee breaks. Portuguese get together for coffee not just to savor the taste of it but as a way to socialize with family and friends.
Portuguese coffee is still a big part of Lisbon but, there has been a boom of specialty coffee shops all around Lisbon.
The Emergence Of Third-Wave Coffee Shops
Currently, there are three waves of coffee in the coffee industry. The term “Wave of coffee” was coined by Trish Rothgeb in 2002.
According to Rothgeb, the first wave is when coffee became a commodity during the 1800s. The second wave was when mainstream coffee shops like Starbucks transformed the coffee culture. The third wave started when coffee shops focused on the quality of their beans and focusing on making high-quality coffee.
As we mentioned earlier, there is a 100-point Coffee Review Scale that coffee sommeliers also called Q Graders, use to evaluate coffee. These are coffees that scored 80 or above on the scale. It is not only the grade but how the beans are grown, roasted, and brewed are also that makes the coffee a part of the third-wave movement. The third wave movement is associated with specialty coffee shops all around the world.
The third wave coffee movement began in Lisbon when Copenhagen Coffee Lab opened its doors in 2015.
Lisbon Coffee Shops
Let us take a look at some of the specialty coffee shops in Lisbon.
Copenhagen Coffee Lab
Copenhagen Coffee Lab first started its operation in Demark in 2013 and it was founded by Steen Skallebæk, Ole Kristoffersen, Jacob Karlsen, and Allan Nielsen.
They started as a small roastery before expanding as their business became larger and larger.
Copenhagen Coffee Lab opened its first location in Principé Real, Lisbon in 2015 and has been one of the cafés that stands out in the city. Now, you will find that this coffee shop has multiple locations in Lisbon.
They roast their coffee beans in Denmark and they have a wide selection of coffees to choose from, aside from an espresso. Aside from coffee, Copenhagen Coffee Lab also has salads, sandwiches, bread, and pastries.
Fábrica Coffee Roasters
Fábrica Coffee Roasters opened in 2015 and is one of Lisbon’s third-wave movements. They select high-quality coffee beans from all over the world and roast them carefully on-site. This made Fábrica a resource for craft coffees in Portugal.
For people who love espressos and pour-overs, Fábrica is a great coffee shop to go to. If you can’t get enough of their coffee, they also sell freshly roasted coffee. They also have pastries that you can enjoy along with your cup of coffee.
Fábrica Coffee Roasters has five locations in Lisbon as well as several locations in different cities in Portugal.
Olisipo Coffee Roasters
Olisipo was established in 2018 by two people with a passion for coffee, Anthony Watson and Sofia Gonçalves. Specialty coffee shops were still a new thing in Portugal back then and the community of specialty coffee lovers was still growing.
Anthony Watson started his journey of exploring the coffee culture in Ethiopia before settling in Lisbon. He brought his experiences with him as he opened Olisipo with Sofia Gonçalves.
Olisipo roasts its coffees in small batches to ensure quality, preserve the coffee’s freshness, and maximize its flavor. As of the moment, Olisipo is only open once a week on a Saturday so you’d have to plan accordingly if you want to visit this coffee shop.
Aside from serving single-origin coffee coming from South American countries, Olisipo also serves tea and beer.
Address: Rua do Cruzeiro 84 1300 – 167 Lisbon, Portugal
Buna Specialty Coffee Shop
Buna is one of the recent specialty coffee shops that have emerged in Lisbon’s coffee scene. This specialty coffee shop opened in 2020 and Buna made it its mission to serve its customers the best coffee drinks in Portugal.
Buna has high-level coffee beans that are cultivated in Africa and The Americas and these beans are roasted in roasteries in Europe. This coffee shop also has a wide selection of coffees to choose from. You can choose from espressos, V60, or even chilled coffees. They also have delicious food and dessert that goes well with coffee.
Buna Specialty Coffee Shop has two locations in Lisbon and they are also pet friendly in case you bring your pet with you on your travels.
SO Coffee Roasters
Another specialty coffee shop in Lisbon that opened in 2019 is SO Coffee Roasters.
SO Coffee Roasters gets their beans from Brazil, Guatemala, Kenya, and Ethiopia. These beans are then roasted in-house in Lisbon. SO Coffee Roasters have a selection of drip coffees, espressos, and iced coffees depending on your preference. If you prefer other beverages aside from coffee, they also serve artisanal beer and wine by the cup.
Their main shop is in Porto and they have an espresso and brew bar in the area of Chiado.
The Coffee Corner
Another one of Lisbon’s specialty coffee shops is The Coffee Corner. This coffee shop just recently opened last December 2022 and it is located in Ocampo de Ourique in Lisbon.
The Coffee Corner serves specialty coffee, tea, sandwiches, and freshly baked goods.
Campo de Ourique is a calm neighborhood so you can sit in The Coffee Corner and enjoy your cup of coffee before you start your day.
The Coffee Corner is open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 16:30 and on Saturdays from 10:00 to 15:00.
The Coffee is a specialty coffee shop that combines the best of two worlds, Brazil and Japan, to create a whole new coffee experience for the people of Portugal.
This coffee shop uses beans from Brazil and Columbia, and The Coffee takes on a simple and minimalist look in their café. The Coffee also makes its coffee with precision. Simple, minimalist, and precise is what Japan is known for.
The Coffee offers hot and cold beverages along with several sweets that you can grab along the way. The Coffee has several locations in Portugal but you can also find them in Brazil, Spain, Columbia, France, and Peru.
Additional Lisbon Cafes
If you want to explore one of Lisbon’s first-ever coffee shops, you can go to Martinho da Arcada. This historic coffee shop opened in 1782 and is still operating today.
Martinho da Arcada serves Portuguese espresso, or Bica, and other traditional Portuguese food like the Balcahau.
This Lisbon coffee shop is a good one to visit if you want to get a feel of a traditional Portuguese café. The Martinho da Aracda is also said to be the favorite restaurant of Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese Poet.
This café is located in Praço do Comércio near the Tagus Revier.
Another specialty Lisbon café is Bloom Coffee Room. This café roasts their beans locally and have also have cookies and cakes fir you to enjoy.
Lisbon is becoming a hotspot for third-wave coffees. Aside from Portugal’s favorite Bica and Meia de Leite, you can expect high-quality coffee from specialty coffee shops all around Lisbon. These coffee shops take pride in where they get their coffee beans and how the beans are roasted in order to produce high-quality coffee.
If you are wanting to visit Lisbon in the future and like to drink coffee, make sure to go to one of the coffee shops in this article to know why Portugal loves coffee so much.
Hopefully, this article got you interested in Lisbon’s coffee scene. Whether you go to a local pastelarias for a cup of Bica or go to a specialty coffee shop, you will remember Portugal as a country that has a strong coffee culture.