October 25, 2019

A Specialty Coffee Shop Tour of Spain’s Basque Country


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.

You may also like A Specialty Coffee Shop Tour of Madrid, Spain 

Espresso being extracted into a cup. Credit: Gabi Miranda

1. Cafetaza

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. 

WhereUnion Square 2, Vitoria-Gasteiz
Espresso MachineGaggia G6+
GrinderMahlkönig EK 43 and Victoria Arduino Mythos One
Coffee OfferingsCoffee-based cocktails, filter coffees, cold brews, and nitro cold brews
Must-Try DrinkAguapanela, a Colombian drink combining lime juice, cold brew, and ice
Retail OfferingsCoffee beans and brewing equipment are available in store and online
Food & Other DrinksJuice, fruit, biscuits, cookies, and snacks 
Nearby SightsIt’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!

WhereValladolid Street 12, Vitoria-Gasteiz
AtmosphereFriendly, charming
Espresso MachineGaggia G6
GrinderMarkibar ASPE S3
Coffee OfferingsThe café stocks a range of Trike Koffee beans
Must-Try DrinkA classic flat white
Retail OfferingsYou can purchase Trike Koffee beans for home use
Food & Other DrinksPintxos, omelettes, and sweets, as well as baked goods such as muffins and cookies
Nearby SightsIt’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.

WhereManuel Iradier Kalea 7, Vitoria-Gasteiz
AtmosphereVibrant, friendly
Espresso MachineLa Marzocco Linea Classic
GrinderMythos One and Mahlkönig K30
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, seasonal cold brew, nitro cold brew, frappés, and filter coffee
Must-Try DrinkTry out the bombón – an espresso and condensed milk drink
Retail Offerings250 g bags of espresso or filter coffee
Food & Other DrinksMenu highlights include pintxos, tortilla española (Spanish omelette), and Nutella supercookies
Nearby SightsSituated 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. 

WhereArechaga Kalea 6, 48003 Bilbao, Bizkaia
Espresso MachineMarzocco Linea PB
GrinderNuova Simonelli Mythos One
Coffee OfferingsEspresso, V60, and cold brew in the summer
Must-Try DrinkIrish coffee or V60
Retail OfferingsBeans from a variety of roasters 
Food & Other DrinksFresh juice, teas, cocktails, handmade cookies, sandwiches, and vegan options
Nearby SightsYou 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

5. Sakona

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.

WhereAv Ramón Maria Lili 2, Donostia/San Sebastián
Espresso MachineVictoria Arduino Black Eagle
GrinderMahlkönig EK43 and Victoria Arduino Mythos One
Coffee OfferingsThree to four different coffees offered as espresso-based drinks or filter, batch brew, and cooled filter coffee (but no cold brew)
Must-Try DrinkOrder the Trio, which is the same origin served as an espresso, single shot with milk, and cup of filter
Food & Other DrinksTheir breakfast and brunch menu is extensive, with eggs Benedict, avocado toast, salmon, homemade granola, yoghurt, craft beers, kombucha, and fresh juice
Nearby SightsVisit 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

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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