Falling in Love With Portugal’s Cafés: Part Two

We feature coffee businesses in three different regions that are offering unique experiences for specialty coffee.

BY TANYA NANETTI
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Photos courtesy of Tanya Nanetti

Moving to Portugal from Italy after the long lockdown of winter 2020 awakened in me the desire to travel, as it hadn’t happened for so long. For me, traveling always meant finding new specialty-coffee spots, from large-scale roasters to small independent cafés. 

Here’s a short list of unique coffee places that I have personally enjoyed around Portugal, from the sunny coastline of Algarve to stormy Porto, passing through the vibrant life of Lisbon.

Being at KOYO feels like you’re at a café, even though it is technically a roastery space.

Aljezur

KOYO Speciality Coffees, BYOM (bring your own milk)

Nowadays, the region of Algarve hosts a big community of expats, and Gyula Illés is one of them. A former barista champion, SCA trainer, coffee judge, and much more, the Hungary native moved to Aljezur in 2016. After a break from the coffee world, he finally fulfilled his dream and, right in the middle of the pandemic, opened his own roastery.

Housed in a rather small industrial space right behind the local fire station, KOYO is for now technically a roastery only, and not a true coffee shop. However, the door is always open, and Gyula is always around. And let’s face it: The place already looks like a coffee shop. It features all the right coffee tools, a big community table, a comfortable couch, and some really good coffee—a perfect gathering space for brews and conversation.

KOYO coffees are usually medium roasted, and Gyula really loves coffee. He is more than happy to share his knowledge (and a cup of coffee, or even more) with whoever simply passes by. One thing to take note is that the coffee here is always black—no milk in the house. But word has spread that if you bring your own milk … maybe you can have an amazing cappuccino after all.

Buna serves light-roasted coffee in an otherwise medium-dark-roasted market.

Lisbon

Buna Specialty Coffee Shop, dare to be “light”

Lisbon is quite a unique town, both decadent and thriving, full of old-school Portuguese culture amidst cosmopolitanism. So it’s no big surprise that in the last several years, the local specialty-coffee scene has exploded. At the same time, the scene caters to all coffee lovers, offering a mix of both dark- and medium-roasted coffees.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that, and some of the local coffee shops and roasters are really nice … but what if you’re looking for something lighter? What if you come from Northern Europe (you’re a light-roast lover coming from Berlin) and you simply want to find that light-citrusy-acidic Kenya on espresso that you miss so much? 

Well, Buna Specialty Coffee Shop is your answer. The tiny, cozy, warm café is tucked in a small alley in Santos—one of the newer “hip“ neighborhoods in town, full of specialty-coffee shops, natural wine bars, and artisan boutiques. In just a couple of years, Buna was able to gather a small community of both expats and locals. The window sign says “Buna Coffee and People,” and these are the key ingredients to the café’s success. Customers visit not just for the great coffee (supplied by Stockholm’s Drop Coffee), but also for a chat with the friendly owners who are often around.

The café is moving to a new location just around the corner that will be opening soon. Here, they promise the same warm hospitality, the same light-roasted coffee, but also more food, a bigger brew bar, and extra space to sit and relax.  

C’alma is one of the few cafés in Portugal to offer tasting flights.

Porto

C’alma Specialty Coffee Room offers coffee flights in a proper coffee tasting room. Porto’s specialty-coffee scene is also quickly growing, with a desire to offer the same standards of renowned specialty cafés around the world—so it felt like a real surprise when we stumbled into C’alma.

Before learning more Portuguese, we wondered the meaning of C’alma’s name. We were pretty sure that it was a mix of “calma” (calm, quiet, peaceful, pretty much the same in my home country of Italy) and “com alma” (soulful). However, we couldn’t come up with a satisfying answer until the moment we arrived. And suddenly, it was perfectly clear—it meant ultimate calm.

Housed in an amazing location with all wood and warm lights, C’alma immediately revealed itself to be a cozy little place that perfectly matched its name. On a rainy afternoon, we decided to spend our afternoon simply like this: with “calma” and “com alma,” enjoying the café’s unique offerings and welcoming atmosphere. 

So what is so unique about the C’alma menu? The business offers a large array of coffee flights, very similar to the ones offered by trendy beer pubs around the world. Here, you can choose amongst espresso, manual brew, and drip coffee flights that offer different combinations of coffee, exactly as you like. We went for the coffee flight (three different coffees with one brewing method of choice) and were completely enchanted.

Portugal’s small but mighty coffee community continues to grow, and its experiences are proving to be diverse, welcoming, and simply delicious. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tanya Nanetti (she/her) is a specialty-coffee barista, a traveler, and a dreamer. When she’s not behind the coffee machine (or visiting some hidden corner of the world), she’s busy writing for Coffee Insurrection, a website about specialty coffee that she’s creating along with her boyfriend. 

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