San Sebastian is a city whose unique vibe instantly captivated me. I was inspired by its fierce tides, ever-changing light and striking coastal landscape. However, being the Beaniac that I am, no holiday is perfect unless I know where to get my daily dose of excellence. Here are the two places that made my tiny heart beat faster,

Sakona Coffee Roasters

Sakona Coffee Roasters San Sebastian

Sakona Coffee Roasters is a project launched by no other than the magnificent Javier Garcia, five times Barista Champion of Spain. Prior to opening his own shop, he build a consistent fan base in San Sebastian while pulling shots for 9 months at The Loaf Bakery. It was once the only place serving specialty coffee in town but thankfully the third wave has since come in to the rescue of Cafecionados.

Irún is Javier's birthplace and also the location of his fine atelier equipped with a Probat. Once roasted there, the beans are brewed at Sakona's ample and bright coffee shop right by the Urumea river in San Sebastian. So far, Javier is working with importers that provide maximum traceability but is hoping to move into the direction of direct trade in the future. I tried one of the two single origins on the menu, the El Salvador El Campanario, with notes of dark chocolate, red berries and grapefruit. It was delicious!

Sakona Specialty Coffee Roaster
Sakona Specialty Coffee Roasters

When I've spoken to him about his vision for the specialty coffee movement in Spain, Javier stated that now in Spain, as in the rest of the world, is the best moment for coffee. Never have producers and consumers paid more attention to quality, sustainability and transparency as in recent years. Javier calls it the result of a revolution, rather than the third wave, something that started in the early 2000s and has put into the spotlight the single bean with all its characteristics and flavours. Although foreigners are still the main customers, Javier is eager to explain the difference between his coffee and industrial coffee to locals as well. There is a strong coffee culture in Spain and specialty coffee shops such as Sakona seek to create a different context for coffee. One, where you take a seat, take time to stay in the moment and truly enjoy and appreciate the taste of your cup instead of rushing to the bar and drinking a bitter coffee in one go. For that to happen habits need to change, which is something that takes time and patience. To the question whether Javier will participate in another barista championship in the future he replied with a cheeky smile that he promised his followers he will be back to compete again! But for now, all efforts go into the coffee shop and the wholesale of Sakona beans.

Bajo, Ramón María Lili Pasealekua, 2
San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain

MON - FRI 08:00 - 20:00
SAT - SUN 09:00 - 20:00

Old Town Cafes Especiales

Old Town Specialty Coffee San Sebastian

Old Town Cafes Especiales is a project of long-time friends Márcio and Ricardo, two Brazilians with a great passion for their craft. It is located in the Mercado San Martin and has a friendly and welcoming vibe. A few bar stools invite to linger, but to get your coffee to go is a popular option as well. A great draw are the organic baked goods, with gluten free options available.

old town cafe especiales specialty coffee

Apart from espresso based drinks, the guys have several other brewing options to choose from, such as pour over, Aeropress and the Syphon. Single origin coffees are rotated according to seasons and constantly feature Nomad Coffee and Right Side Coffee Roasters from Barcelona. Occasionally, the duo experiments with other roasters from Europe. Márcio and Ricardo create a relationship with their customers and no matter how busy, they will take the time to exchange at least a few words. Sometimes, these might be to explain the difference between commercial and specialty coffee to people who are new to the third wave movement. Are they thinking bigger in the future? Sure, but step by step.

Mercado San Martin
Calle Arrasate, in front of the number 33

MON - WED 08:00 - 20:00
THU 08:00 - 00:00
FRI - SAT 08:00 - 20:00

Check out my other travel and coffee guides featuring Spain!