26 October 2015

Lisbon Coffee Guide

Lisbonites love their coffee and it's easy to get a decent bica (a slightly longer version of an espresso) for around €1 all over town. If you're looking for a longer drink, however, third-wave coffee bars are only just starting to arrive in the city and the quality is more variable. Here are a few of my favourites.

Fábrica Coffee Roasters
The first stop on my Lisbon coffee tour was Fábrica Coffee Roasters, a café and roastery on Rua dos Portas de Santo Antão, just north of Praça dos Restauradores. The first time I visited, I was seeking shelter from the torrential rain, and sank gratefully into one of the comfy chairs, but on my last day I returned to soak up the sunshine on the little terrace area next to the pavement. The décor inside is industrial shabby-chic: a quirky mix of wood, brick and metal. There is also free wifi, which is great for a few holiday Instagram uploads.

Fábrica serves a range of cakes, salads, sandwiches and other light meals, but the coffee menu itself was fairly extensive. As well as the usual espresso-based drinks, you can enjoy coffee brewed with a V60, Aeropress, Kalita or Chemex, and they also serve cold brew and iced coffee. On my first visit, I tried their Colombian coffee, roasted in their in-house roaster, brewed with an Aeropress (€3). Because I was in Lisbon, I also ordered a pastel de nata, which was delicious, if messy. The coffee itself was very good: strong, smooth and with a subtle fruity acidity. I wanted to come back to buy a bag of the beans but I had spent all my pennies on pastéis de nata by the end of my trip.

On my return, I tried a single-origin macchiato (€1.70) — I'm not sure which variety they used — which was beautifully made and with an Instagram-worthy, if slightly lopsided latte art heart. I would have liked to order another, but my flight home was calling my name.

Fábrica Coffee Roasters is located at Rua dos Portas de Santo Antão no. 136. WebsiteFacebook.

(Note: There is another — unrelated — café called Fábrica Lisboa, which looked nice enough but which I didn't visit.)

Copenhagen Coffee Lab
On my coffee tour of Copenhagen, one of my favourite discoveries was a tiny, cosy café called Copenhagen Coffee Lab. I noticed on their website that, somewhat randomly, they also had a Lisbon coffee bar, so of course I had to check it out. Located on the picturesque Rua Nova da Piedade in the Bairro Alto neighbourhood, CCL Lisboa has a lot in common with its Scandinavian sister, including the cheery yellow colour of their exteriors.

Inside, the café has a minimalist feel, although the small vases of pretty flowers on each table add nice pops of colour. There was one particularly cosy-looking window nook where you could curl up with a faux fur throw and cushions, but I opted for a seat at the other window — there are plenty of seating options, depending on whether you are MacBooking or socialising. There were several hand-brewed filter coffee choices — V60, Aeropress and French press — and, predictably, I ordered the Aeropress, which was a bargain at €2.50.

You can tell when hand-brewed filter options are just starting to enter a market because the cafés don't quite get the pricing right and end up under-charging for a coffee that takes much longer to prepare. Nonetheless, my coffee arrived promptly and was very well-made. In fact, I wish I had ordered a second to take with me on my train journey.

Copenhgen Coffee Lab Lisboa is located at Rua Nova da Piedade no. 192. Website. Facebook.

It's a good thing that Wish, a 'slow coffee house' located inside the shopping, eating and arts complex known as LX Factory, placed their coffee menu outside their café or I might have walked past, distracted by the varied offerings of LX Factory. I could see that they served French press, V60 and Chemex, and it had just started to rain. It was a no-brainer.

Inside, the décor is whimsical: small, hexagonal tables, origami lamps and quirky wall art. I took a seat at one of the small tables and ordered a V60 for one. As this cost €5.50 (expensive by Lisbon standards), I assume it was a V60 for two for one, but who's counting? As the name suggested, the coffee did take a while to arrive, but I wasn't in a rush and was busy using the wifi to try to work out if the rain was ever going to stop. When my coffee arrived, there was definitely enough for two — two regular people, anyway — and it came with two tiny pastries. The coffee wasn't quite as great as at Fábrica and Copenhagen Coffee Lab, but it still tasted good, and if you need a coffee stop while at LX Factory, this is the place to go.

Better still, there is an accompanying boutique, selling a carefully edited selection of homewares and stationery and accessories. Coffee + shopping; what more does a girl need?

Wish is located at LX Factory, Rua Rodrigues Faria 103, space G.02. Website. Facebook.

I only spent a few days in Lisbon, so please do let me know if there are other great coffee bars that I missed so that I can add them to my list for next time.


  1. Hi Bex,

    Great piece! I have fond memories of Lisbon from a trip there 10 years ago. So many great cake shops :-) It's wonderful to see that speciality coffee is making inroads.

    Hopefully I'll be able to pop back and check it out myself one day soon.

    Many thanks,

    1. Thanks, Brian. Yes, you should definitely try to make it back there at some point. I am still dreaming of the wonderful pastéis de nata!