By Rachel Graf
In Madrid, coffee is more than a simple morning routine. It’s a part of the culture. The madrileños love their coffee at home, at work, out in the streets, before breakfast, and after dinner. It’s an excuse to meet up with friends, a reason to linger at the table a little longer after a meal, and an essential part of city’s vibrant social life. Coffee and coffee time are meant to be enjoyed in Madrid. The “to-go” coffee concept just doesn’t seem to exist in this city. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. Going out to tomar un café means taking a break from the craziness of life and slowly savoring every last drop. After all, there’s nothing quite so nice as sitting in the sunshine outside a typical Spanish bar, enjoying a café con leche and a good conversation.
As a bit of a coffee addict, it’s no surprise that my search for Madrid’s best cafés has been an ongoing project these past two years. And it’s no easy task. This city seems to have a different café around just about every corner with new ones popping up all the time. But after getting to know this city and all its neighborhoods pretty well over the years, I’ve established a solid list of favorite java joints in the Spanish capital.
Whether you’re looking for a nice place to meet up with friends, a good atmosphere, a cozy workspace, or simply a good cup of coffee, you’re sure to satisfy your caffeine craving at one or more of the places on my own list of Madrid’s best cafés.
Calle de la Palma, 49
Toma Café, is well known and well-loved in Madrid, particularly among expats. But don’t let the international scene here fool you– plenty of locals love this coffee shop too. And for good reason, because they know their stuff when it comes to coffee at Toma. While I’m not a coffee snob, I appreciate a quality coffee when I taste it, and Toma’s might just be the best you can find in Madrid. Roasted to perfection, the coffee at this little Malasaña coffee shop simply can’t be beat in terms of high coffee standards in Madrid.
The coffee isn’t the only thing Toma has to offer, though. It’s got a great atmosphere too. With bicycles hanging from the ceiling, great music playing over the speakers, funky decor, and friendly baristas who love to chat with customers, it’s a cozy place to stay a while. Whether you’re looking for a place to sip espresso with friends or a good workspace, you can find it at Toma Café.
Calle Sombrerete, 20
Tucked away in the colorful streets of Lavapiés, you’ll find Cafelito, a quiet little café with lots of character. I absolutely adore this place. The coffee is delicious and the atmosphere is just as nice. At Cafelito, detail is everything. From the lovely decoration to the teapots and saucers, every detail inside the café contributes to its unique charm. And an added bonus– It’s cheaper than most of the cafés in Malasaña. The menu also offers some good breakfast specials until 1:00 every day.
For the café scene in Lavapiés, my own Madrid barrio, Cafelito makes the top of my favorites list. It also falls high on my list of Madrid’s best cafés. If you find yourself in the neighborhood, be sure to stop in and enjoy a coffee, tea, or a slice of one of the delicious cakes usually on display.
Plaza de San Ildefonso, 9
You’ll find this funky café in the heart of barrio Malasaña, Madrid’s hipster neighborhood. La Bicicleta Café is, without a doubt, one of Madrid’s very best cafés. It’s the perfect place to meet up with friends, enjoy a delicious brunch, or just get some work done in one of its cozy corners. La Bicicleta markets itself as a café and workspace, encouraging customers to come in and stay as long as they want. The kitchen is open all day and the menu is extensive. You can find it written on chalkboards all over the place, offering a spread of healthy and fresh items, natural smoothies and juices, and, of course, top quality coffee.
La Bicicleta’s atmosphere is really one of a kind. With funky artwork and bicycle-themed decor, it’s an inviting place to spend an afternoon. It’s also a bit bigger than many cafés in Madrid, so there’s plenty of room to come in and relax or take advantage of the café’s workspace and free wi-fi.
Calle Argumosa, 39
Metro: Atocha or Lavapiés
La Libre is a combination of a café and bookstore with a particular charm that I love. The friendly staff serve up a good cup of coffee with a smile, and the café has a fun and quirky feel with its bohemian and vintage decor. Situated right behind the Reina Sofía art museum, La Libre is a great place to fuel up after a morning of Picasso and Dalí. With books scattered throughout the café, it’s the perfect spot to get lost in a novel for a while or spend a few hours working. Or just stop in and enjoy a café con leche with a friend in this lovely little corner café.
Calle Pez, 20
HanSo Café is another one of Malasaña’s best. This hip café serves quality coffees and lovely desserts daily. With a minimalist and modern decoration, the spotlight falls on their beautiful coffee and food. The baristas at HanSo Café are always friendly and they know exactly how to pour a perfect cappuccino without fail every time. There’s plenty of seating space at HanSo too, so you probably won’t have to fight the crowds that the Malasaña cafés can often draw.
Calle de los Tres Peces, 22
Metro: Antón Martín
For a more local scene, La Infinito is a neighborhood favorite in barrio Lavapiés. Just around the corner from Mercado Antón Martín, La Infinito offers a relaxing atmosphere and an extensive menu of coffees, teas, infusions, smoothies, and fresh, natural juices. They have some delicious breakfast and brunch options, and also offer salads, tostadas, and snacks to share. This quiet café is another great workspace in the city center with free wi-fi and a cozy ambiance.
About the author
I’m Rachel, an American expat and travel blogger with a passion for new experiences, photography, and good food. I’m currently living in Madrid where I teach English four days a week and spend the rest of my time exploring the world.