Visiting the northern Portuguese city of Porto in the middle of summer is quite the treat. The magnificent central train station is bursting with colour and tourists, delicious port wine is served direct from the barrels, and shopkeepers spring to life — waving their hands wildly, ushering you into their stores.
No longer Lisbon’s ugly sibling, Portugal’s second city has become a special haven in its own right. Built across two sides of the picturesque Douro River, the city offers some of the country’s best port wine, the most delicious bacalhau (cod fish) on earth, and a heavily-influenced cuisine from neighbouring Northern Spain.
But between those bottles of fine Portuguese wine, you’re going to want to keep your energy levels up. And boy, Porto delivers on its coffee scene in spades.
My personal favourite was Fabrica Coffee Roasters Porto, a could-have-walked-right-past-it establishment in the downtown residential district. A subtle shopfront gives way to an unexpectedly elongated, sprawling venue, complete with a grab-and-go space up-front, dining tables and La Marzocco coffee station in the middle and — keep going — a fits-right-in Probat Coffee Roaster down the back. There’s a sunny courtyard with plenty of early-afternoon sun, too.
Travelling with another mate from Australia, this became our morning pit-stop for the four nights we stayed in Porto. Wherever we were going, we’d make sure to swing past Fabrica in the morning for coffee. With a single-dosed Mahlkönig EK43, we were always confident that we’d be served something outstanding.
Bonus points for their healthy avocado on toast and yoghurt bowls — a pleasant change-up from another Portuguese breakfast item we tried downtown, the francesinha.
You can find Fabrica Coffee Roasters at Rua de José Falcão 122, 4050–315 Porto, Portugal
Another wonderful spot — this one a little further from the centre but still walkable — was Combi Coffee, a local coffee roaster focused on high-quality specialty coffee.
With a Fiamma Astrolab on the counter, and an attention-grabbing drum roaster visible from the shopfront, the cafe oozes old-school charm. The owners, Gonzalo and Francisco designed the shop after a visit to Melbourne, Australia, where they were blown-away by the specialty coffee scene.
We tried a Columbian espresso and a cold drip and sat outside on a sun-drenched day. A memorable afternoon in a gorgeous setting.
Combi Coffee is located at R. do Morgado de Mateus nº29, 4000–334 Porto, Portugal.
As Portugal’s second city, Porto is well networked across Europe, with regular flights from most countries on the continent. We flew direct from Bordeaux, France, and then later on took the train to Lisbon, Portugal for the second part of our Portuguese trip.