No doubt a holiday can leave you with many cherished memories. But, the best memories you can ever hope to have will be those where food, great food was involved. You no doubt remember knocking back that fiery ginger shot in wherever, or those frogs legs in Timbuktu, for example.
I remember having eaten some fabulous food in Seattle and having gone on a road trip to Oregon. I ate some chicken and biscuits (not biscuits the way us British folk know them), some glazed donuts with bacon and some Parmesan and pear ice cream. Wow! A food lover like me, the thought of going back home and living all this food behind left me melancholic.
Then, on the last day, I was taken to The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie – a great coffee shop on Vashon Island off Seattle. I had a coffee with lavender. So smooth was the coffee and so velvety was the milk. I drank it slowly and saw a sign in the distance behind the bar that read “Coffee doesn’t ask silly questions, Coffee understands.” I thought, “how true” and…. “I want it now.” “Where did you buy it,” I asked. Sadly, the owners did not know where it was from as it had been given to them as a present. And thus began the witch hunt to find my own. Long story short, man found jack!
I came back to Madrid and so began quotidian life and some time later, also MuchBites. I love coffee (surprise) but I’m not a connoisseur. All I know is this: poor quality coffee served without extra hot milk makes me nauseous, but good quality coffee with normal temperature milk is manna from heaven.
Madrid thankfully has a burgeoning collection of fantastic coffee shops serving this wonderful manna from heaven. Let me tell you about them….
I’ll start with Toma Cafe. I call this place the cafe of small organised chaos. No tables, a bicycle hanging from the ceiling and some benches doubling up as tables! This is madness! When you walk in at first you can’t help but feel intimidated. It’s too hipster. Not wanting to make yourself look uncool, it can be hard to maintain your “I got this” façade. Let me tell you, just walk in and go straight to the bar and order what you’d like. While waiting for the La Marzocco coffee machine and the well-trained barista to make your coffee, you can start to look for a bench, I mean a table, aarrgh, whatever you want. Then just sit back and enjoy. Pick up a postcard and begin deciphering the riddle it poses. (For this task, I’d brush up on my Spanish if I were you). Located on Calle De La Palma, 49 in Malasaña, you wouldn’t otherwise find this place but its not too far off the beaten track.
From chaos (organised chaos) to urban oasis. So far off the beaten track, you’ll need MuchBites to lead you there. Exposed ceilings with steel tubing on show, white steel pillars supporting the structure, mildly glossy grey concrete floor, long wooden table smack bang in the middle and a monkey on the window (a picture of) – welcome to Monkee Koffee. Such a great escape to wind down, disconnect and maybe find yourself. From breakfast, lunch and late lunches, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Of course, we love the coffee, but also on offer are salads and some yum-my cakes. Brownies, carrot cake, cheesecake, need I go on? Sitting wise, you can choose the sofa at the far end of the cafe with its accompanying wooden stools and yellow side tables, the red table with the rusty deck chairs on the side parallel to the sofa, that long wooden table or the long padded wall seat. As you walk to the bar, the huge chalkboard will inform you of what’s on offer. After ordering, everything is then served on a beautiful chopping board that you’ll then struggle not to steal (I know I’ve contemplated it before). Hey reader, don’t judge me. That’s Monkee Koffee, located on Calle Vallehermoso, 112 – worth a visit.
Then now I’ll tell you about Cafelito where the coffee is not Normalito. Oh I mean, what choices they have!!! I’ll start of with the water. Everyone knows that good coffee is always served with a glass of water. So, how can one possibly make that exciting? At Cafelito, they give you cardamom infused water. (I guess at this point I can stop writing, because you want to go already?) Wait for the coffee. Have you seen how hot it gets in Madrid? Hot weather and hot coffee “no baby no,” hot weather and a coffee with ice cubes “yeah, coz that’s revolutionary.” So Cafelito make their iced coffee with actual ice cubes of coffee, then add a dash of crushed coffee beans and a squeeze of lemon and some zest too, all then served in a small, vintage, steel teapot. I won’t tell you about the dirty chai and the fact that they serve different imported coffees each week – Ethiopian, Brazilian, Mexican, etc, etc. Just go now and try this great place located in Lavapies on Calle Sombrerete, 20.
Of course, we could continue talking for ages about La Bicicleta, Coffee and Kicks, Federal Cafe and so on and so forth. But why not check out the Coffees and Cakes page of this blog for a constantly updated list of must check out places.
One last thing. I’ll tell you about the coffee understands sign. I didn’t find the sign and I’d lost all hope. At losing hope, I added my friend on Instagram as she had taken up her hobby full time on her sabbatical in Italy – cross-stitching. I saw the work she produced and the quality was just exquisite. I thought to myself that maybe I could ask her to make this sign for me – a tall order for sure. I mustered up boldness and asked her. She kindly agreed. A few design choices later and hours upon hours of painstaking attention to detail stitching, I received my sign in a package from Italy. It now proudly hangs on my kitchen wall.