25 November 2021

Ten Speciality Coffee Shops To Visit in Porto

With a few days of annual leave left to use this year and the desire to spend my birthday somewhere sunny for once, I found myself in beautiful Porto earlier this month. I'd been wanting to visit the city nicknamed Invicta ever since my trip to Lisbon in 2015. My city guide is now live, and here is my guide to Porto's excellent speciality coffee scene — well, the ten coffee shops I was able to visit during my four-and-a-half-day stay, one of which is in Vila Nova de Gaia, technically a separate city.

Porto's city centre is relatively compact, making it easy to explore its coffee shops. Do check Google Maps or the coffee shops' social media for the latest opening hours, and note that some places close on some combination of Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. And I was able to sample coffee from five local roasteries, as well as from several international roasters. It was also great to see hand-brewed filter coffee featuring on so many menus. Although I'm partial to a piccolo, I am just as fond of a filter brew, so it's nice to be able to enjoy both when on holiday. There's a map of the places I visited below, but scroll on down for all the details.

7g Roaster (Vila Nova de Gaia)

Naturally, the first coffee shop in my Porto coffee guide isn't actually in Porto. 7g Roaster is, in fact, in Vila Nova de Gaia (or just Gaia), a separate city on the south side of the River Douro, where many of the port cellars are located. After crossing the Ponte Luís I, I carefully followed the directions on my phone down a steep and winding route to Rua da França, near the river. The café–roastery is tucked away down a small street but it's a huge space, with plenty of seating indoors and out. The roaster is off to one side and depending on where you sit, you might be able to watch the roasting in action.

It is, of course, 7g's own coffee that is served here. There were several single origins on offer, some of which I tried in other Porto coffee shops, but I had a piccolo with the house espresso, a blend of coffees from Peru and Honduras. Sweet and smooth, the coffee went nicely with my first pastel de nata of the trip (spoiler alert: it wasn't the last). More substantial food is available too and you can also stay in their apartments. Sadly, I left the day before the first stage of the Porto Latte Art Grand Prix.

7g is located at Rua de França 5, Vila Nova de Gaia. Website. Instagram.

BOP (Baixa)

It took me several attempts to visit BOP, which is located a short walk north-east of the historic city centre, close to Trinidade metro station. The cafe, which turns into a bar of an evening, is currently closed on Mondays but I'd failed to notice it didn't open until the evening on Tuesdays. Happily, I returned on Wednesday for a very fine macchiato brewed with a Mexican single origin from 7g. The décor is very cool too, with the back wall filled with records. You can make requests, but I've never been very good at the ol' jukebox selection or its equivalent, so I just enjoyed the barista's choice while we chatted over coffee. I also picked up a delicious peanut cookie, which kept me going hours later at the airport, in the absence of a BA lounge.

BOP is located at Rua do Bolhão. Website. Instagram.

C'alma (Baixa)

Located a few blocks south of BOP, C'alma was one of those chance encounters that make coffee-shop tourism so great. Instead of passing up the grand staircase, turn right into the café, which has beautiful interiors, from the high ceilings and curving wooden counter, to the tiling and vintage accessories. They take coffee seriously too, with a brew bar featuring three single-origin coffees (from 7g and from Bucharest-based Slone Coffee), each of which can be brewed four ways. 

I've been on a run of great naturally processed Colombian coffees recently, so I went for 7g's, which was brewed through the V60. They do tasting flights too, but I only realised after I'd made my order. My coffee — pictured in the top image of this post — was wonderful, with juicy berry and cherry notes.  Intentionality is a term that can get thrown around a lot, but it is very fitting here.

C'alma is located at Rua de Passos Manuel 44. FacebookInstagram.

Combi Coffee Roasters (Cedofeita)

Although Combi Coffee Roaster's Cedofeita outpost — inside the florist Agrafo — was just around the corner from my hotel, its opening hours and my schedule meant I was only able to visit mere minutes before I left for the airport. Worse still, the customer before me bought the last bag of Ethiopian coffee beans I'd been planning to buy (worse for me; great for the other customer, of course). All was not lost, however, and I had a lovely macchiato to take away. There are a few spots to perch at the window, and they also sell reusable cups and coffee kit, as well as beans. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to visit their main location, further east in Bonfim, this trip.

Combi Coffee Roasters is located at Rua de Miguel Bombarda 519 (their main location is at Rua do Morgado de Mateus 29). WebsiteInstagram.

Época (Cedofeita)

Popular Cedofeita neighbourhood café only opens Tuesday afternoons and Wednesdays through Saturdays, and it was already pretty busy when I arrived soon after opening on Wednesday morning. I took a seat at the communal table in the minimalist space and perused the breakfast menu. While I decided, I ordered the pourover do día, which was an El Salvador single origin roasted by Danish roaster La Cabra.

The coffee had rich, sweet, dried fruit flavour notes, which was just right for a sunny, but brisk, morning. As for brekkie, the eggs were pretty epic. From the menu, I'd mistranslated mexida as 'Mexican' when in fact it means 'scrambled' (the problems of knowing too many languages, but some not well enough!). Served with lashings of parmesan and chives on a mighty hunk of sourdough, it was quite the breakfast. And it was nice to be given a knife that was up to the formidable sourdough task ahead of it.

Época is located at Rua do Rosário 22. Instagram.

Fábrica Coffee Roasters (Vitória)

The Fábrica café on Rua dos Portas de Santo Antão was my first coffee stop in Lisbon — while sheltering from the tail-end of a hurricane, no less — and it was nice to visit its more northerly sister. (There are also three other locations in Lisbon now.) From the outside, it reminded me a lot of Rua dos Portas de Santo Antão, particularly with the deck housing pavement seating. Inside, it's a huge, bright and airy space, with the coffee bar and retail section at the front, followed by more seating, the roaster and a leafy outdoor terrace at the back.

They don't serve piccolos or cortados, but my flat white was properly proportioned and excellently brewed. Kudos to the busy barista who was taking orders, including for brunch, while whipping up a latte art storm, all with a smile. I headed out to the quieter section at the back and allowed myself a few minutes to enjoy my coffee before continuing on my very long walk around sunny, hilly Porto.

Fábrica is located at Rua de José Falcão 122. Website. Instagram.

Manna (Vitória)

I took a photo of the colourful building that is home to Manna, a café and yoga studio a block north of Fábrica, just because I liked the tiles. When I returned, following a recommendation from someone I met on a tour, I realised I'd already walked past. There are more breakfasty options on the menu and more lunchy options, but everything is vegetarian. I had scrambled eggs, which, like at Época, came with a very substantial piece of sourdough, setting me up well for my morning walking tour with Porto Walkers.

As it was my first coffee of the day and I wasn't sure when my next coffee would come, I ordered a Bex special: a hand-brewed filter coffee with a piccolo chaser. I had a delightful Ethiopian coffee, roasted by Barcelona-based SlowMov, which had raspberries in every sip brewed through the V60. My piccolo was very good too, brewed using coffee from local roaster Senzu — but more about them later! Manna also has a great selection of homewares and gifts, if you're in the market for a souvenir.

Manna is located at Rua da Conceição 60. Website. TwitterInstagram.

My Coffee Porto (Ribeira)

In the award for the Porto coffee shop with the best view, there's a clear winner: My Coffee Porto, a teeny café perched just above the Ponte Luís I. But despite its small size, it serves espresso-based drinks, V60 and Chemex brews, and various food options from pastries to smoothie bowls. I was a bad blogger and, in my excitement over the view (well, I had just climbed up a lot of steps in the sun), I forgot to note the roaster. But my macchiato was very good, the afternoon sunshine making it taste even better. 

It's cash only and I was almost out of change (I was able to pay by credit card or contactless pretty much everywhere), but an incredibly sweet fellow customer offered to pay for my coffee as she'd been in the same situation before. And that's just the kind of place My Coffee Porto is.

My Coffee Porto is located at Escadas do Codeçal 22. Website. Instagram.

Senzu Coffee Roasters (Cedofeita)

After discovering Senzu's coffee beans at Manna, I looked up them online to see whether they had a coffee shop in Porto. I was in luck as they are based inside the CRU Creative Hub, which happened to be about five doors down from my hotel. CRU has a co-working space and it also runs a shop stocked full of jewellery, accessories, clothes and other great products from local designers. At the front, a small coffee bar is set up with a Niche grinder, a Kalita Wave and a Moccamaster. Yes, it's café de filtro only here, which suited me just fine. Given the choice of three single origins, I picked a washed Ugandan, which had a lovely acidity to it brewed with the Kalita. 

I returned on my last day to buy some beans to take home, including a natural coffee from El Cipres, El Salvador — the Portugal Aeropress Championship coffee — which I've just cracked open, and which is giving me all the chocolate-dipped strawberry flavours brewed in my Kono dripper.

Senzu is located at Rua do Rosário 21. Website. TwitterInstagram.

So Coffee Roasters (Vitória)

Last, but certainly not least, is the beautiful, minimalist space that is So Coffee Roasters' Rua de Sá de Noronha cafe. With espresso-based drinks, V60, Aeropress and batch brew filter coffee, and pasteís de nata and other pastries on offer, it may take you a little while to decide what to order.

For a lighter, sweeter afternoon brew, I opted for a washed Colombian microlot from Finca La Ilusíon, grown by Rosemberg Martínez. The coffee comes served in a cute mini milk bottle, and with a card containing further details about the coffee, the farm and the farmer, which always adds to the experience. As So note on their website, "You are not a banker. You can be a little emotional about coffee." I returned another morning for breakfast, enjoying a piccolo and a pastel de nata. I meant to return again to buy some beans, but sadly ran out of time on my last day. They also have a coffee bar inside The Feeting Room, a clothing store downtown.

So Coffee Roasters is located at Rua de Sá de Noronha 119. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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