Coffee is infamously bad in most of Spain – at least in Seville and Madrid, that’s where I lived and drank the longest. Galicia has a quite different standard, and you can safely expect a decent cup any where you go. Portugal is even more amazing, but that’s another post.
Coffee in Santiago is sacred: it’s cheap, and buys you at least half an hour inside a bar, which is especially important when it’s raining (that is, 95% of the time in the last two months).
These are my three favourite places to have a cup of café con leche. Please note that here you’ll often be asked “¿grande o pequeño? / Large or small?”. A small café con leche will be slightly bigger than an espresso cup, but full to the brim. A large café con leche can be anything from a cappuccino to a large latte, in size. Prices range from 1,20€ to 1,40€ per cup.
Porta da Pena, 17 – Santiago de Compostela
Coffee here is good, and it usually comes with a little biscuit or chocolate…
…but location is even better! In winter you cross your fingers to get to sit at one of the three tables inside . Cosy and with lots of natural light, you can sip your coffee looking out at the garden.
In spring and summer, if it’s not raining, the garden is one of the highest pleasures you can experience. The wall on the right belongs to the old walls of the city. If it’s hot you can get a cool and shady spot, if it’s cold you can sit in the sun.
Rúa do Horreo 27, Santiago de Compostela
closed on Sundays
Café Venecia is a family-run coffee shop which has been in the Rúa do Horreo for what feels like forever. Óscar de Toro, its owner and barista, is truly passionate about coffee, and if given the chance will tell you everything about his latest discoveries.
The coffee available every day is espresso-style, but if Óscar is in the house you might ask him to prepare you a Chemex, and in summer he might have cold-brewed coffee available, which is a real delicacy.
Freshly-roasted coffee is also available to buy on the premises. More pluses: wifi and power charging stations for those of us who cannot live without our smartphone or laptop.
Rúa da Fonte de Santo Antonio 15, Santiago de Compostela
closed on Sundays
I love m* café because I feel cuddled and pampered every time I go there. Yes, I know María, one of the owners, so maybe the friendly hello I get is even more friendly – but everyone else seems to feel the same. Very good coffee and very good sweets to go with it: all of the cakes are homemade by María herself, as are most other pastries.
Free wifi is available and power charging is admitted if you behave. There’s books to borrow (and leave, in case you’re travelling through this is a very good place to leave your finished books), daily and weekly press as in most cafés in Galicia, and weekly meetups for knitting lovers.
m* café closed in May, its owners are opening a new bar in downtown Santiago, more news soon!