Portugal is famous for its coffee culture; drinking coffee is an important part of every day life across the country. Cafes are present everywhere you can think of, right down to the most remote villages. However, the specialty coffee industry has recently begun to emerge in Portugal with a handful of specialty coffee roasters and places serving specialty coffee; the industry is clearly growing.
As I mentioned in a previous post about coffee culture in Portugal, there are a number of specialty coffee businesses concentrated in the big cities for example: in Lisbon (e.g. Fabrica Coffee Roasters, Copenhagen Coffee Lab); and in Porto (e.g. Vernazza, Luso Coffee Roasters, Combi, Mesa 325, BOP, and the Coffee Room). On a recent trip to Porto I had the chance to explore some of these places, and coffee culture more generally in Portugal.
I’m interested how the specialty coffee industry is developing in Portugal given it is a country where coffee culture is so embedded in the lifestyle, and the particular style of coffee (espresso with sugar) is so popular. While in Portugal I had the chance to meet up with Diogo Amorim, founder of Luso Coffee Roasters to talk about specialty coffee culture in Portugal, and about running a specialty coffee roaster business.
Luso Coffee Roasters is a micro-roaster based outside Porto. There are a variety of coffees on offer including a blend that is designed to appeal somewhat to Portuguese tastes for coffee (the Viriato blend). Importing the beans from a range of countries they are then roasted on demand. Luso has a coffee cart which is used at some events, and there are ambitions for a site in Porto to sell Luso Coffee in the future, but for now it is available and from a variety of places in Porto. I had actually tried some coffee from Luso the previous day in Mesa325; a lovely smooth coffee via V60. While talking to Diogo we tried some of the Viriato blend, and unlike with standard espresso from Portugal, you really don’t need sugar with this one (although Luso does have sugar available – with a helpful hint on the back).
Demand from tourists, and those who have travelled abroad, seem to be key drivers of specialty coffee growth in Portugal. When you consider the locations of where specialty coffee is on offer in Portugal this makes sense, either in the centre of cities, or relatively close to hotels where tourists might stay (I found specialty coffee on offer outside of Porto, which I will explore in another blog post soon). A potential barrier for a broader consumer base for specialty coffee in Portugal (as in many other markets) is price. A typical espresso in Portugal can cost as little as 0.50. But as Diogo, and many other people who work in the specialty coffee industry have pointed out you are paying for high quality coffee with specialty coffee. Will specialty coffee ever become mainstream in Portugal? Only time will tell, but for now, there are an emerging number of coffee businesses that are worth exploring.