City of Light, Ocean and Cafés

Lisboa - City of Light, Ocean and Cafés


by Dirk Teckenburg

Café. bica. pingoor. café pingado. café meia de leite. galão. galão clarinho. carioca. café cheio com agua. café cheio. café duplo. abatanado. abatanado com um pouco de leite…

So, it is obvious! If a language has so many words for coffee – the Portuguese MUST love coffee! The Portuguese seem to have a never-ending treasury of words for one of the most delicious drinks in the world. You’d like a standard black espresso? no milk? with a dash of milk? half milk? even more milk? stronger? weaker? I’m sure there is a Portuguese expression for exactly the coffee milk mixture you’re graving for! In Portuguese the expression for a coffee can tell a whole story. Just to mention "Garoto". Meaning “little boy”. So called because this is the coffee given to the boys to introduce them to the taste.
Coffee and the Portuguese ... a love story!

The love between Portuguese and coffee goes back to the Portuguese seafaring past when Brazil, Angola and Mozambique still were Portuguese colonies. All of them well-known coffee producers and ever since active trading partners for the coffee addicted Portugal. So, Lisbon has become something like the capital of coffee.

Loving coffee as much as the Portuguese, I am off on a café discovery tour now – sharing some of my favourite Lisbon coffee spots with you! With me my new Pssbl x Tonlé Sap HipBag with everything for the day packed and stowed in it!

Everywhere in the city you will find small and large cafés - from simple to stylish / trendy. You can still find small traditional coffee roasting houses, where you can be put your own coffee together by yourself, but at the same time big bustling modern places.

For the quick coffee in the morning I like to stop by the old-established locals, like 'Nando'. Hidden in an alley, the Rua Cordoeiros, the café is dunk in the alleys as a part of the social life. Like most of these small cafés, Nando is connected with a small supermarkets selling the everyday basics. These cafés are places to meet and socialize. Young, old, manager, young mum, granny or student – everybody comes together to exchange a few words or the latest news. No Portuguese comes up with the stupid idea of drinking his coffee at home – all alone! It seems these cafés have always been there and will last forever. When the café hype in the trendy city quarters around the world is over, the good old sieve carrier machine will still be preparing amazing hot, black drinks.

One of my favourite places to enjoy the morning sun is the Café 'Janis' at Jardim Dom Luis. In the style of a French street café, you can enjoy here an excellent coffee with a relaxing view over the park and the morning bustle, having a Croissant or Pain au Chocolate. Of course, the menu offers a lot more, but this combination is just right for me. You can sit here in the morning sun until noon before the sun disappears behind the block of houses. Time to move on ..

A few meters further the North did arrive with the 'Copenhagen Coffee Lab'. As the name already promises, they offer many different choices of coffee here. But what is certainly special in this place is the dark bread or the rye bread - which speaks for Scandinavia. On Saturdays and Tuesdays, the 'Feira da Ladra' takes place directly in front of the 'Copenhagen Coffee Lab' - the big Lisbon flea market. So, enjoy your Scandinavian-style breakfast and of course your coffee, and watch the hustle and bustle of the market!

The last coffee we take in the new trendy area around the Cais do Sodre. My tip: the 'Comoba'. Stylish furnishings, very good health food, delicious cakes, even a delicious burger if one is graving real food after all the coffee. The 'Comoba' offers rooms with beautiful old vaults and is a perfect place to open the computer and check some mails over a Galhao, Flat White or turmeric latte.

We finish our tour in one of the many old kiosks - Quiosque in Portuguese – that have been converted into small cafés or bars in the recent time. Some of them attracting the outdoor crowd with live music. Many of Quiosque are green oasis in the hustle and bustle of the city with amazing views over the city and the river.

My favorite Quiosque is near the Pantheon in the Santa Clara Park, hidden away between some trees with a stunning view over the Tejo river. I love to sit there under the trees with a coffee, enjoying a good book, relaxing and watching the people.

And it’s the perfect spot to wait for the “Blue Hour”. With the view to the west, where the sun has just set behind the Atlantic Ocean, everything is drenched in a unique blue light. Bright, strong and intense. Sometimes still with a red, purple, pink, orange edge. Add a few clouds to the sunset and the mood becomes almost dramatic.

And this unique light contributes to the fascination of the city like nothing else for me. It’s a light that I haven’t discovered anywhere else in the world so far. Time, to let the cafés rest for a while, and move on to a cold re-freshing beer! Watching the beautiful play of colours in the sky. Cheers! - or better - Saúde!