Searching For My Perfect Coffee Shop in Madrid

For the better part of my twenty-one months living in Madrid, I visited heaps of coffee shops in the hopes of writing a blog called “Madrid’s Top Five Work-Friendly Coffee Shops” And as I finally write this post from one of Washington DC’s dozens of coffee shops (where everyone is engrossed in either a business meeting or work on their laptops), I’m gonna tell you: I didn’t find what I was looking for in Madrid.

As a student, blogger, and part-time work-from-homer, it’s important for me to leave my house now and then and work among strangers, the presence of whom somehow helps me limit my Facebooking and encourages me to write my book.

What makes a great, productivity-inspiring coffee shop?

  • Good coffee. For this American, drip, filter, pour-over, even French Press is vastly preferable to the acrid (and often weak) espresso drinks that are omnipresent in Madrid.  (The question of why Madrid’s cafe solos and cortados are so bad was answered for me in this blog post by James Blick at Madrid Chow: Most cafes and bars serve torrefacto beans, which means sugar was added to the beans during the roasting process, resulting in a burnt, tooth-enamel stripping brew.
  • Wi-fi. (Sorry, beautiful flower shop/cafe in Madrid).
  • A vibe that is conducive to working, meaning no excessively loud or distracting music or conversations. And, importantly, staff that doesn’t hate me for opening my laptop. I once tested out a fancy cafe near Retiro Park and when my wi-fi pooped out after forty minutes and I told the sales girl, she said “Yes, because you need to keep buying things.” Surely the 12 euros I had spent on a quiche and cafe con leche should have bought me at least an hour of Internet access, and quite possibly a tad less attitude. Others working near me is a major plus because productivity is partially transmitted through osmosis.

Here I am, reflecting on all the coffee shops I visited in Madrid, and I’m coming up short for a list because there aren’t five great cafes in Madrid that have decent coffee and encourage productivity. There is just one and it’s called La Bicicleta.

bici1 Truth be told, their coffee is not all that good. It’s mostly cappuccinos and cafes con leche and espressos, but they do have a cold brew that is not bad, as well as good food and cheap wine. But most importantly, La Bicicleta has the hipster, communal, pull-up-a-chair and get to it vibe that I like so much. It’s a solid coffee shop, located in a fun and vibrant barrio, it’s a great place to meet friends, and it’s an excellent place to in which to buckle down and finish your project/paper/book.

Honorable mentions include 1000 Cups (Glorieta de Quevedo, 5), which has cozy bookshelf wallpaper, some comfy seats, and very good pour-over coffee; Toma Cafe (Calle de Palma, 49) which serves hands-down the best coffee in the city, but lacks any seat in which you’d want to park it for more than twenty minutes; The Toast, which offers a hearty breakfast burrito and has plenty of seats; cheerful but more restaurant-y Wanda Cafe Optomista (Calle María de Molina, 1); Monkee Koffee (Calle Vallehermoso, 112) with its cool industrial-cozy vibe; and Bendita Locura (Calle del Príncipe de Vergara, 7), with its posh-industrial vibe.

I’m more than happy to be proven wrong, so if you discover the perfect coffee shop for getting work done in Madrid, please post in the comments.

To finding the perfect coffee shop,

The Dame in Spain

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