Stanislav Benderschi — half-Russian, half-Portuguese — opened this coffee destination in June 2015. While far from the first local roaster/café combination within Lisbon’s city limits, it is certainly one of the most modern at doing it.
Off the Avenida da Liberdade, not far from the Restauradores Metro station, the neighborhood is like much of Lisbon these days: in transition between newer businesses, an infiltration of heavy construction equipment, and demolition of the remaining urban decay that’s still very much about. (For example, its neighbor to the south is quite literally a complete teardown.)
In front there are several streetside tables under awnings, advertising their “Best beans. Great coffee.” slogan in unabashed English. There’s a lot of English language suffused about here — such as the sign that instructs its patrons with, “No WiFi. Drink coffee.” And yet despite the International nod that this brings, Fábrica does not completely betray its Lisbon roots; it manages to successfully straddle both the local and the global.
Inside is a bit more of the typical, aging coffeehouse you might find in San Francisco in the 1990s: a mix of rough wooden furniture and chairs, brick walls, scuffed wooden floors, and a chalkboard coffee menu. In back is their Probat roaster, purchased in Germany, where they roast about weekly and accumulate a bit of their roasted coffee and merchandising for sale (T-shirts, coffee accessories, etc.).
The baristas are a friendly, international bunch — from the service-oriented Lisboeta, Claudio, to Alexander from Kiev who speaks absolutely no Portuguese. This local/global mix is also reflected in their clientele, which seems equal parts Portuguese locals and foreign expats or tourists. Mr. Benderschi has decidedly tried to establish a comfortable, albeit international, environment for Lisboetas — raising their coffee standards while banking that more will additionally seek out their roasts for home use.
There’s little to the menu here besides coffee, but who’s complaining? Using a three-group La Marzocco GB5, they pull single (€1,20) or café duplo (€1,70) shots with a thicker, medium-and-lighter-brown striped crema. The duplo is three sips short in a larger logo IPA ceramic cup. It has a full body with a solid mouthfeel and a dynamic flavor range of apple brightness, molasses, and some cloves. It’s truly gorgeous and rather exemplary.
Whereas Copenhagen Coffee Lab feels like an interloper, Fábrica manages to feel steeped enough in the local coffee culture while advancing quality standards and looking outward.
Read the review of Fábrica Coffee Roasters in Lisbon, Portugal.
Danish owners, Ida de Matos and twins Helle and Susan Jacobsen, created an outpost of their Copenhagen coffee laboratory mothership here in the Príncipe Real district of Lisbon. It’s a Scandinavian curiosity dropped in the middle of Portuguese coffee culture, creating something of an alternate of good quality for exploratory locals.
It’s a quiet space despite the soundtrack. Everything inside here is white: service counter, tile floors, metal stools, café tables, employees, and most patrons. The expat factor is unavoidable, with English-speaking foreign students and — sadly yes on my visit — the obligatory man bun. Inside it’s a youthful vibe, heavy on laptop zombies.
There are a few indoor tables and odd seating options, including an isolated room in back. Shelves of coffee merchandising sit at the front and rear of the shop. They offer pastries and salads, a breakfast menu, light lunches, and even Knækbrød (Scandinavian crispbreads).
They have a particularly lengthy coffee and espresso menu, leveraging the coffee they roast at their Copenhagen headquarters and offering it also as V60, Aeropress, or Chemex. The options of the day were primarily Brazil or Kenya single origins. The barista, who will step out for a smoke given even Portugal’s non-smoking laws of the past decade, uses scales for precision weighting.
Espresso can come as a single shot (€1,30) or a café duplo (doppio, at €2). Using a two-group Astoria machine, their default Brazil double espresso came with a medium brown, even crema. The shot was medium-to-thin-bodied with some acidic brightness on the finish: less cherry and more raspberry. It’s a rather classic light roast, with the dynamic range of the flavor profile cut short and weighted more towards brightness with some limited mid-palate.
Served in Acme & Co ceramic gray cups. A good, alternative espresso in the thick of Lisbon, However, as a visiting tourist, the experience might be a little too familiar. But then when I travel, I generally prefer things that express more of the local coffee culture — and less of what seem like cultural imports that you can practically find carbon copies of in various other cities around the world.
Read the review of Copenhagen Coffee Lab in Lisbon, Portugal.