Specialty Cafés to Check Out in Lisbon

The coffee scene in Lisbon has blossomed, with shops offering brunch, coffees from exceptional roasters throughout Europe, and unique experiences to impress the drinker.

BY MICHAELA TOMCHEK
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

Photos by Michaela Tomchek

The cobbled, colorful streets of Lisbon are teeming with life, filled with tourists, street cars, locals, fado music, plenty of spots for tapas and wine, and of course, coffee.

Hop on a trolley, navigate through Alfama, gaze out at the Tagus River and the 25 de Abril Bridge, and immerse yourself in the bustling metropolis on the Atlantic. Once ravaged by the earthquake in 1755 that caused a tsunami, wiping out a significant portion of the city except for the beautiful neighborhood of Alfama, Lisbon offers so much to the tourist. You can find something new every day, climb numerous hills, eat plenty of pastéis (small custard tarts—the original is found in Belém), and lots of coffee.

The outside of Liberty, with a tile roof and pink painted outside with a mural of people drinking together.
Liberty Coffee and Books features coffees from roasters all around Europe.

Liberty Coffee and Books

With two beautiful locations, Liberty Coffee and Books was started by a Russian trio after they moved to Portugal: husband and wife Anna Aleshkovskaia and Yuriy Gushchin, and their friend Nikita Pirogov. The Russian community in Portugal is friendly and welcoming, which is how this trio met and found success in opening up their own café.

Their first location opened in the Santos neighborhood in December of 2022, on a quaint and lively street with tiled homes and narrow sidewalks. The second location is situated right on the water in Cascais, a stunning white space with huge windows, giving you a direct view of the sea no matter where you are seated. Russian classics adorn the food menu, with lovely beverages to sip on including lattes, drip coffee, and matcha drinks. They feature roasters from all over Europe such as Kawa from Paris.

This is a wonderful spot to enjoy the sea, browse their books, and get lost for a while.

Inside the spacious Hello Kristof, a sleep walnut-colored bar with shelving behind and lots of indoor plants.
Hello, Kristof offers homemade pastries and toasts along with stellar coffee.

Hello, Kristof

When walking down the lively street of Rua Poço dos Negros, you will stumble upon Hello, Kristof. This café is dedicated to providing locals with a place of solace to read magazines, sip coffee, and eat some exceptional food. Opened by a freelance graphic designer tired of working from home, this space is decorated with beautiful Scandinavian furniture and art. Co-founder Chef Malaylack has refined and perfected the food menu at Hello, Kristof. Magazines and books line the walls of the cozy space.

The toasts here are works of art with bright colours and delicious flavours. Homemade pastries call your name from the counter, plants dangle from above, and happy baristas wander around delivering cups and plates of joy. Busy during the weekends, but worth the wait, this is a must-visit in Lisbon.

The street corner with The Folks in the foreground, a white building with large windows and logo in gold, and flowers inside the window.
With five locations around Lisbon, you’re sure to find a tasty cup at The Folks, which also serves Ukrainian-inspired dishes.

The Folks

When wandering the city, you will surely see the white circular sign adorned with black outlines of coffee beans hugging each other—which is a sign for The Folks, exceptional spots for coffee and food. Founded back in 2022, The Folks now operate at five locations throughout Lisbon in Santos, Chiado, Alfama, Sé, and Blue Street.

The food menu is filled with an array of options from tasty egg dishes to colourful pancakes drenched in fruit syrup. Some menu items are Ukrainian-inspired recipes since the founders are immigrants from Ukraine—a great opportunity to try some new food! The coffee here is brewed to perfection, with rotating roasters from all over Europe including Dak Coffee Roasters (Amsterdam), Nomad Coffee (Barcelona), and Ineffable Coffee (Seville, Spain), amongst many others. Each location has a different vibe and atmosphere, but all provide a wonderful coffee experience.

A curtain hangs behind the tiny counter at Calmo, with flowers and pastries on the counter, and cups on top of an espresso machine above the reflective bar.
Calmô is a hidden gem café-roastery run by Brazilian transplants.

Calmô Café

Hidden on a quiet street in Lisbon, as you walk past light blue and pale green tiled buildings, you will stumble upon Calmô Café. Opened in 2022, the café also has a small roaster in the corner. You are immediately greeted by a kind barista as you place your order. This space is tiny, but they have a kitchen in the back that creates exquisite dishes ranging from homemade pastries and cakes to lovely toasts and granola bowls.

Calmô is run by a group of Brazilian transplants—so you will see plenty of Brazilian coffee on the menu and some Brazilian inspired food, including pão de queijo, delicious balls of dough and cheese typically served with a sweet jam. The café itself is decorated with hanging lights, tiled floors, and minimalist furniture. It is a hidden gem in Lisbon!

The white interior of ELE ELA with black pendant lights and fixtures, merchandise on the walls and a glass pasrty case.
ELE ELA has home-baked pastries and coffee roasted by Denmark’s famed La Cabra.

ELE ELA

In the trendy Santos neighborhood you’ll find the elegant ELE ELA, founded by Diego from Brazil and Alyona from Russia, back in May of 2020. They seriously know how to rock it. The coffee, brewed either via batch brew or espresso, is served in handmade ceramic cups with bright yellow smiling faces. The delicious vegan pastries are baked right there: almond croissants, banana bread, cookies, and cinnamon rolls. You can smell wafts of heaven baking as you sit reading, sipping coffee from La Cabra (Denmark).

Diego and Alyona note that the specialty-coffee scene in Lisbon is still developing: “We see big progress in the last one to two years, but still, comparing to other cities, there are few coffee shops with focus on coffee. Most of the places focus on brunch and add specialty coffee, but it’s not their main priority to make a special cup of coffee. In the last one or two years new places with coffee as their main priority (have) opened in Lisbon, and we are happy to see it, and hope this will continue.“

With espresso being a prominent beverage in Portugal, they also mention that “Portuguese clients usually drink double espresso, or lattes. Rarely filter coffee like V60 or batch brew. It’s definitely not easy to appeal to locals with specialty coffee, especially with non-espresso-based coffee.” Regardless, ELE ELA has unlocked the secret to brewing excellent coffee and creating an amazing place to drink it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Michaela Tomchek finds coffee an important part of life and the world. She is an appreciator of the crop, the producer, and the many cafés throughout the world serving beautiful beverages. Currently, she writes about coffee, hoping to spread her joy across the globe. 

Cover image of the April + May 2024 19th Anniversary Issue

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