There’s something really special about finding that right place.
I suppose it is a bit like finding a good book to read.
In most cases, you have to work through a lot of rubbish to get there. A lot of excited moments of discovery, only to be followed by severe disappointment.
When we got to Lisboa, we were very excited about the coffee. It was black, it was strong, it was everywhere.
Combined with beautiful pastries, Portugal most definitely has developed its own distinct coffee culture. Unlike the Germans, who often insist on 100% Arabica beans, the Portuguese like a fair dash of Robusta in their coffee mix, based on their strong ties to Brasil, I read somewhere. Coming from Australian coffee culture, I believe it can really add depth to a coffee.
Putting the entire Arabica snobness to one side, coffee is all about taste. And tastes always differs. I happen to enjoy a really good blend – coffee or wine.
As much as we liked the classic Portuguese culture with traditionally dressed waiters, pastellarias combined with great weather and happy people, you can imagine, that it’s not really the place to openly confess your lactose intolerance. Everyone drinks espresso anyway. But after a few days of tasting bicas and duplos through all sorts of pastellarias, I must say a serious craving for a good soy latte was starting to creep in.
When we told our friends in Lisboa that we really like coffee, they right away had a few suggestions. One of which was the Kaffeehaus in Bairro Alto. Ironically, a café run by Austrians. The first week we struggled to find it. After we finally did, it turned out that the owners were on holiday and would only open a few days before we were due to leave. Fun fact about Portugal: in summer everyone’s at the Algarve, which makes Lisboa a really relaxed place to visit.
So, full of anticipation we arrived for a late breakfast on the day it reopened. A beautiful sunny morning, and you could tell that the locals had really missed the place. It was buzzing, the ever changing lunch menu looked very appetizing.
The interior is bright, a mix of modern and classic, with enough space to go round and some plastered walls with contemporary Austrian art posters. Most of the staff are Portuguese, but the second day we met one of the owners, who cheerfully noted, that his scrambled eggs on toast must be really good, if I was taking photos of it…
The café had been running for seven years. Having worked in gastronomy for many years, he had come with his partner and opened this café to live and surf in Lisboa. Sounded like a great plan to me, that he obviously didn’t seem to regret in the slightest…
We pretty much tested half the menu over two visits (we HAD to come back the next day): amazing crumbly sour tarty cakes, always with a creative twist to traditional meals such as scrambled eggs and sausages with mash, made to perfection.
After having tasted the delicious items on the menu, the biggest question of course was: what about the coffee?
Sticking with Portuguese tradition, soy was not an option, so I ordered a café duplo (elongated double espresso, in Australia we call it a long black), which hands down was probably the best cup of black coffee I have ever tasted. Well balanced, smooth, not too bitter and with the perfect amount of crema, it left you wanting for more.
Luke’s first order was a café com leite. This turned out to be a big mistake. Coffee and milk do not mix well in Portugal. We rectified it immediately by ordering a second duplo and so we both enjoyed an amazing cup of coffee.
If you are fortunate enough, the book you take along on your trip will be just as good as the food and the café duplo at the Kaffeehaus. If you travel to, or if you live in Lisboa, this place is a MUST visit.