When visiting some of our favourite spaces in Porto, we were hit with the realisation that there is a new trend in town: to actually stop for a while, forget busy schedules and leisurely enjoy a full-flavored coffee – while reading a good magazine, on a lazy shopping afternoon, or just over a pleasurable conversation with our closest friends.
We don’t, however, mean just any coffee, but an irresistible specialty coffee. For the benefit of those who have yet to try it – spoiler alert! – the name is not the only special thing about it. To start with, unlike commercial coffee, this one is artisanally grown and picked, and its aroma and flavour will be different according to the soils and microclimates of the areas where they are produced. And this is why, when asking for your coffee, you will be met with different stages of a process devised to help you find the coffee you are meant to be drinking.
Generally speaking, spaces with specialty coffee will provide you with the choice between different grain origins, different roastings (from the least to the most roasted, that is to say, from the least to the most bitter) and different production methods (V6, Chemex e Aeropress). At the end of the day, however, regardless of your preference, this type of coffee is not for everybody, only those who are slow living fans. Not only because each coffee takes between 5 to 10 minutes to brew, but also because it is, by definition, a high quality beverage, unique in taste, one which invites us to forfeit hastiness and simply enjoy the moment.
The concept has been imported from brands like Urban Outfitters and Burberry and from cities such as New York, Tokyo, Berlin and London, where, very commonly, clothes shops, bookshops, florists and even art galleries share its space with grains and coffee machines. Despite being a relatively new ritual in Porto, it has rapidly grown in the heart of the local consumers.
© Intelligentsia's Herald Square Cafe at Urban Outfiters
While Manifesto, based at Mercado de Matosinhos, shares the space with the Wanderlust Coffee Lab so that customers can catch up on their reading while enjoying an artisanal coffee, at Mesa 325 there are several options ‘on the menu’, you can enjoy them over work or study sessions. In a relaxed atmosphere and with ‘vinyl music’ in the mix, Bop Café has a wide selection of grains on offer – to be enjoyed as a leisure activity.
Leonor Sá, from Mesa 325, believes that ‘drinking coffee is a deeply rooted habit in our culture, but we are not used to having good coffee, one brewed right.’ The espresso ‘we are used to is generally bitter, astringent, dense and strong. In contrast, specialty coffee is ‘produced from grains grown in specific, unblemished areas; you know the plant they came from and the cultivation practices involved in obtaining them. It differs from ‘regular’ coffee in the fact that it is more acidic, fruity, floral and delicate’ she states.
At Mesa 325, drinks prepared from espresso feature a blend of different origins. Filter (brewed in a V60 or Chemex) and french press coffee use single origins grains, from countries such as Ethiopia, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Ruanda and Honduras. ‘Coffee brewed from these grains is meant to be savoured and therefore, drank slowly, as those with a keener palate and sense of smell might even be able to distinguish the characteristics from each origin.’
© Mesa 325
At Bop ‘a lot of attention to detail goes into handling and serving our coffee, which means the quality of what you will be drinking will speak for itself’, states Filipe Ribeiro. ‘Specialty Coffee is a coffee rating category, one which only makes sense to apply if it is sustained by a chain of people devoted to working with a higher quality product, from the moment a tree is planted, to picking the grains, selecting, roasting and grinding them, basically every step right up to extraction’ he explains. ‘A flaw at any stage of the process will jeopardise it.’
Because of its unique characteristics, this coffee ‘should be drank as soon as possible once it has been roasted’, states Filipe, who also explains that at Bop, coffee is roasted under a week previous to its concoction. Among the options on the menu, we can find the specialty coffee for the Espresso and coffee-derivative drinks service, as well as the one for the Pour Over in the Hario V60. For the first, Bop works with an arabic blend from six different origins; for the pour over they use Single Origin Specialties, i.e., coffee that comes from a specific farm or cooperative, ideal for an informed consumer who already knows what he looking for.
© Bop Café
Daily Day is the most recent space to feature a specialty coffee shop: Bruto Café. And at the hands of a specialist. Michaël is a newcomer in the city, having worked, for several years, as a barista in London-based coffee shops such as Fernandez Wells and Flat White, and in coffee roasting at Caravan Coffee Roasters. Great news for the shoppers at Daily Day, who can now pop in for a shopping fix fuelled by great coffee.
At a time when consumers increasingly value experiences and activities that relate to their lifestyle, featuring this complementary service is a great investment for sales points, regardless of their activity area. If they feel thought of and comfortable, consumers will want to extend their visit to the shop, which means they will have more time to identify with the products on offer, fact which, in turn, will increase the likelihood of a purchase.
Because no commercial pressure is exacted, visitors will identify with the experience and create positive associations with the space. And, naturally, they will want to return – who wouldn’t rather shop while sipping a heavenly cup of coffee?