11 February 2017

The Barcelona Caffeine Chronicles: Nomad Coffee

The first few months of 2017 were always going to be a busy travel period for me, with two short European trips and a longer US work trip scheduled, and then two additional brief European work trips materialised, to Cologne at the end of January and then to Barcelona earlier this week for a hectic one-night stay. I hadn't been to Barcelona for a good 15 years and I was long overdue a return visit. Sadly, because I was only in the city for 28 hours and had almost no free time, I didn't get the chance to see much of the city or to enjoy much of its burgeoning speciality coffee scene.

My hotel, the Hilton Diagonal Mar, was very nice but a good 2.5 miles both from the city centre and the conference hotel. I thought I could kill two birds with one stone by getting up very early to do a run down to the Sagrada Familia and pick up some coffee on the way back. Although it was still dark, I did see Gaudi's wonderful cathedral, but as in Cologne, I had to admire it from the outside. Meanwhile the closest speciality coffee places I'd found didn't open until 9 am. Fail!

After the conference finished that afternoon, however, I did manage to go on a quick walk into the city centre in the glorious sunshine on the way to the airport, and stop by one of the speciality coffee shops I had identified, NOMAD Coffee. Like many of the best places, NOMAD is tucked away down a quiet alley ― in this case, in a pleasant warren of streets in the old town, a few blocks east of Plaça Catalunya.

Inside, the cafe is small and with minimalist decor: a monochrome colour scheme with wooden accents and shelves filled with bags of retail beans and assorted coffee kit, old and new. There are several benches along the side of the cafe and a handful of stools at the counter, where each place is marked by a square of sage green marble, which looked very nice with a cup of coffee on top. NOMAD roast their own coffee at another site near to the cafe.

I started with a pourover and the barista recommended one of the two Rwandan coffees on offer, and I opted for the more citrusy Muyongwe (€5), brewed through the Kalita Wave (they also offer Aeropress-brewed coffee and cold brew), which I really enjoyed. If I were travelling less over the next month, I would have bought a bag of the beans to take home.

As the filter coffee had been so good and as I was trying to atone for 24 hours of mediocre coffee, I also ordered a piccolo (€2.50), which was made with their current favourite espresso, a Guatemalan coffee called La Bomba. The coffee tasted great and the latte art was beautiful, enduring all the way to the bottom.

One of the other baristas was having some latte art training while we were there and as my colleague and I were sitting at the bar, I shared stories from my own home latte art learning curve; they were impressed with the picture of my 'budding tulip' flat white, though. All of the staff were really friendly and it was a lovely place to sit and relax with a good cup of coffee (or two).

In case you were wondering about the name, as I did, Nømad was founded by Jordi Mestre, who earned his chops working at Nude Espresso in London before launching his own coffee cart, which moved nomadically among the city's markets. And this is how happy I was to make it out into the sunshine and to a great coffee shop (albeit briefly):

NOMAD Coffee. Passatge Sert 12, 08003 Barcelona. Website. Twitter. Instagram. This location (the coffee lab and shop) is only open on weekdays, as is the roastery at Carrer de Pujades 95, but they also have a cafe at Carrer Joaquín Costa 26, which is also open at weekends.

If you have more time in the city than I did, Perfect Daily Grind has a good list of speciality coffee shops (the intriguingly named Satan's Coffee Corner would have been my next stop) and Right Side Roast also list some of the cafes throughout Spain where you can find their coffee.

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