Although we’ve been traveling to Lisbon, Portugal, for years, it’s only recently that we’ve been focused on hunting down the best coffee in Lisbon. In this post, we share our tips on how to order Portuguese coffee and where to find some great Lisbon cafes for specialty coffee.
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Hunting For Lisbon Coffee Shops
We’ve traveled to Portugal about a half dozen times in recent years. It’s a city that we love, and one we sometimes think about moving to. During past trips, I think we visited like tourists.
Now that we are living in Europe I think we tend to visit a city a little differently. We like to explore while keeping our regular routine. On this trip that meant hunting down the best coffee in Lisbon.
In a city that is known equally for its cuisine and its architecture, it’s no surprise that these specialty cafes are a feast for all the senses. They make great coffee but also feel like they are part of this artistic city – even when the cafes are relatively new.
In this post, we will share advice on how to order coffee in Portugal, particularly when visiting traditional Portugal coffee bars. We also will share tips on what are some of the Lisbon coffee shops you must visit if you love coffee as much as we do.
Why Search For Great Portuguese Cafes?
There are a lot of reasons why we try to track down great coffee shops when we travel. In the past, we tended to focus only on local coffee bars when traveling in Portugal, Spain, or Italy.
I love popping into an Italian cafe and knocking back an espresso or a macchiato. Now that we live in Europe, though, I crave more contemporary cafes, where the focus is on quality beans and quality coffee making.
Second, because we travel for food, and we tend to not spend a lot of time at museums or visiting cathedrals, we need to have something to do in between meals. This often means popping into a local cafe to kill an hour or two.
Sometimes it is because we want to get some work done outside of the hotel room. More recently, it means stocking up on great coffee beans to grind at home, as we did recently when visiting Dusseldorf.
In Lisbon, the trend of opening real coffee shops is relatively new as well. When we first visited Lisbon, coffee options were limited to bars and pastry shops, or a handful of chains (Yes, there are Starbucks locations in Lisbon). It was refreshing to see the number of quality cafes in Lisbon this time.
We actually visited a few more than the recommendations I included below. I either read about the cafes in other Lisbon blog posts or had some recommended by locals. We didn’t like the other cafes we visited, so I am not including them below.
How To Order Coffee in Portugal
Let’s start with some basics about the local Portuguese coffee culture. With all of the specialty coffee shops listed below, it’s pretty easy to order. The menus are littered with lattes, flat whites, and pour-overs.
But, when ordering Portuguese coffee drinks at more traditional bars, or at the many bakeries in town, it’s important to know how to order coffee like a local. This is particularly important if you want a little coffee to go with all of the pasteis de nata you should be eating during a trip to Lisbon.
What’s a Bica Portugal and Other Ways To Order Coffee in Portuguese?
Here are some phrases to look for on a Lisbon cafe menu.
Um café or uma bica: a standard black espresso, a bica coffee is only really used in Lisbon, not elsewhere in Portugal
Um pinga or café pingado: espresso with a bit of milk, what would be called a cortado in Spain or a tallat in Catalonia (like in the photo above, in the espresso glasses)
Meia de leite: coffee with milk, normally half coffee and half milk, or a galão is more like a latte, a very milky espresso shot served in a large glass (like in the coffee photo above)
Um café duplo: a double shot of espresso
Drinking Coffee Like A Local
There are other Portuguese coffee types, but these are probably the most commonly used by coffee drinkers visiting Lisbon. The cost of coffee in Lisbon is very reasonable. Typically an espresso or pingado is between €.60-1.20. A galão is between €1.20-1.60.
One of the best places to drink coffee in Lisbon like a local is at one of the many kiosks, or Quiosque in Portuguese. These are the outdoor cafes in many of the squares around the city.
The Best Lisbon Coffee Shops
Although we’ve traveled to Lisbon about a half dozen times before, during this last trip we really focused on visiting some of the fun and hip Lisbon coffee houses.
Included in this list are what we feel is a good start for travelers or expats looking for the best cafes in Lisbon. We focused on the atmosphere as well as the quality of the coffee poured.
There also might be some reference to the “Hipster Lisbon” quality of each cafe. We are the farthest thing from hipsters. When we found a coffee shop that didn’t make us feel too square or too old, we made a note. On average, a cappuccino, latte, or flat white at most of these shops range from €2.50-3.50.
Fabrica Coffee Roasters Lisbon
When researching cool places in Lisbon for coffee Fabrica was on the top of every list. I am often hesitant when this happens, but I figured we would give it a shot. Fabrica was one of the early trend-setters in Lisbon when they opened a cafe, as well as a roastery.
Fabrica Cafe Lisboa now has two locations in the city. It’s a comfortable cafe, with a decent amount of seating. It’s got a bit of a hipster vibe, but not overly so. The coffee itself was well done. They also pay attention to the type of coffee bean used depending on the preparation.
Fábrica Coffee Roasters Lisboa is located at R. das Portas de Santo Antão 136, just off Avenida de Liberdade. It’s just north of the Restadores metro stop. Their second location is on Rua das Flores just south of the popular Praça Luís de Camões.
For travelers and digital nomads seeking a coffee shop to work, they very prominently displayed signs that they did not offer wifi. Fabrica is open 8-8 seven days a week. The location near Rossio offers a handful of outdoor tables as well.
Copenhagen Coffee Lab Lisbon
Copenhagen Cafe Lisbon opened just before Fabrica and has a different feel. It’s Danish-owned (surprise surprise given the name) so the cafe feels more light, airy, and minimalistic. They also have a location in Copenhagen too. Their bakery is well-known for its sourdough and rye bread and their sandwiches are popular.
This was one of my favorite coffees in Lisbon, particularly when paired with a fresh cinnamon roll. It was more quiet than the other cafes, in part because most people seemed to be working rather than socializing.
Copenhagen Coffee Lab Lisboa is located at R. Nova da Piedade 10 and happened to be only three blocks from the apartment we rented with Booking.com in Principe Real. A true neighborhood cafe. They have wifi and several tables for working.
Some of their tables presented no computer signs, probably to encourage conversation (we used our phones). They are open 8 am – 6 pm Monday through Friday, but open at 9 am on Saturday and 10 am on Sunday.
The Mill Lisbon
An Australian owned contemporary cafe and breakfast restaurant a little off the main tourist trail, yet filled with tourists on a Monday morning. I found the house blend to be a little more acidic than I like. The atmosphere was very cozy, perhaps a bit too much. It’s a small cafe and I would not feel comfortable working there.
During our stay, the staff consistently managed the waiting customers. It made me feel as though I needed to drink and get out. Others didn’t feel the same.
Couples and groups dined on their famous hot breakfast dishes, as well as pastries, yogurt, granola, and bagels. Overall worth a visit if looking for an Australian or American feeling breakfast scene more than a coffee-filled workspace.
The Mill Lisbon is located at R. do Poço dos Negros 1, just west of Praça Luís de Camões. It’s a few blocks past the famous corner where people pose with the Lisbon tram. They are open seven days a week from 8 am – 4 pm. They have wifi.
More Traditional Cafes in Lisbon
Although you can grab a coffee at any bar across Lisbon, we have a few recommendations for more traditional cafes. These are spots that don’t fall within the trendy Lisbon cafes above but are a little nicer than a typical bar. These are cafes that specialize in pastries but might also offer sandwiches for lunch as well.
Confeitaria Nacional on Praça da Figueira 18B, is one of the oldest Lisbon pastry shops, founded in 1829. I would recommend visiting because of its prime location, and its historic feel.
Chiado Caffe on Rua do Loreto 61, is a good spot to grab a coffee. We visited to do just that and tried one of their pastel de nata because we happened to be there. The coffee shop is light and airy.
Cafe A Brasileira
I often see Cafe A Brasileira on lists for cafes or coffee shops in Lisbon. The building facade is simply stunning. There is outdoor seating with some prime people-watching in one of the more central parts of the city. I’ve walked past dozens of times, but never went in.
When I mentioned it to a Portuguese friend, she sort of rolled her eyes. To me, it does scream tourist. If sitting outside, watch your bags.