The city of Valencia, Spain is no stranger to specialty coffee—and our embrace of this delicious product is no mere trend.
Here in our traditionally wine-producing country, coffee has for many decades been taken in the form of an espresso shot, a style of coffe brewing imported from the Italians. Espresso shots in Spain have long been synonymous with bitter, heavily roasted flavors, served with a lot of sugar and milk. And it’s still how most of the coffee in Spain is served—but this paradigm is changing fast, thanks to pioneering coffee bars in Barcelona like Satan and NOMAD. Today the city of Valencia can stand alongside Barcelona with multiple excellent coffee destinations, part in parcel with the growing interest in specialty coffee throughout Spain.
Here’s five perfect places to celebrate the gastronomy of delicious coffee in Valencia.
Beat Brew Bar
Beat Brew Bar is one of my favorite places to enjoy coffee not just in Valencia, but in all of Spain. Founded by two Peruvian expats (by way of Japan and Australia), this coffee bar is focused on sourcing and quality, and offers some unique products that directly benefit coffee farmers, including coffee husk tea and coffee flower tea. Beat prefers to use the term “brew bar” as opposed to coffee shop, focusing on brewed coffee extraction carried out with great mastery. From the classic V60 to the less common brew methods like the Kalita Wave and the Origami, Beat Brew Bar also offers cold extraction recipes like cold brew by cold drip, halogen siphons, and even a coffee kombucha—it really is a brewing bar.
Beat dedicates Tuesdays and Wednesdays to carry out courses for people who want to learn how to extract a good cup of quality coffee at home, with a focus on filter instead of espresso. They roast their own coffee as part of a collaborative project, and they also make their own chocolates in-house using raw cocoa. As part of a wider shop ethos, Beat does not serve any form of animal milk at the bar, instead offering up eight different milk alternatives from soy to oat to almond, as well as less common varieties such as coconut and tiger nut.
Retrogusto has been known for many years as *the* place for espresso in Valencia. It’s a three-square-meter stand located in Valencia’s popular Central Market, just in front of La Lonja, where they serve an exceptional coffee for take away. If you’re lucky you might find a spot to perch at its tiny bar, before continuing your shopping journey in this charming and historic venue. Being situated inside the main market of the city with more than 300 outlets, it is striking to see how a small coffee shop is one of the very few with large queues.
This little market stall is always one step ahead with regards to espresso coffee, serving one shot after another to busy crowds of market goers. Retrogusto opened in May of 2015, working with different local and international micro-roasters depending on the seasonal coffee they like best, as well as a primary roaster, the well-regarded Right Side Coffee of Barcelona, among the first truly specialty coffee roasters in Spain.
Another cafe in Valencia run by expats (this time from Venezuela by way of Australia and New Zealand), Blackbird opened in 2018, drawing on coffee experiences in some of the most sophisticated cafe markets in the world, as well as the baking and confectionary traditions of Rome. Today Blackbird has become the top local and perhaps even national hotspot for those who enjoy specialty coffee along with homemade pastries and seasonal dishes with the finest ingredients. Everything they serve is handmade in the onsite bakery with just a glass wall separating it from the glare of hungry customers. This clever but simple addition enables any passer-by to have a glimpse into their pastry creation world. I personally recommend Blackbird’s version of the classic Bostock pastry, as well as the excellent granola, and of course a cup of exquisitely brewed coffee, available until 8pm in the evening—much later than most cafes in Valencia.
Bluebell Coffee opened its doors in 2015, and is regarded by many to be the “first” specialty coffee shop in the city of Valencia, helping pave the way for the modern coffee industry here in Spain. This coffee bar is owned and operated by women, and are pioneers in Spain’s predominantly male industry. They’re also a roaster, and have pursued direct relationships with the coffee farmers they purchase from via importers, with a focus on female-led farms and cooperatives.
Today Bluebell continues a tradition of excellent by organizing training seminars, local coffee competitions, and collaborations, including their exclusive partnership with local craft beer brewery Zeta. This isn’t just one of Valencia’s best cafes, or simply the first to do it right—they are a special combination of all of these factors, and a must-visit for coffee lovers in this part of Spain.
Goat Coffee‘s story is a unique family narrative. This place originally as a project called “The Italian Corner,” owned by a well-known an Italian family in Valencia, but with Venezuelan roots by way of Cambridge, United Kingdom. The Italian Corner has now closed, but the family behind it owns multiple takeaway coffee bars in Valencia now, and this one, Goat Coffee, is my favorite.
Goat sticks quite closely to a traditional Italian approach to coffee, and even imports coffee beans from Italy. The shop’s motto is “Il vero espresso italiano”—the proprietor’s dream is for tourists from Italy to discover his cafe, give him a chance, and offer the opportunity to converse in Italian. The goal here is to serve traditional espresso from Italy “come en casa,” which means “like at home.”
Guillermo Alvarado is a freelance journalist based in Valencia, Spain. This is Guillermo Alvarado’s first feature for Sprudge.