Confession time, dear children! Before Nora and me went to Berlin summer 2014, coffee for me was never a big deal. Before you take out your pitchforks and torches, “The Barn” in Berlin has since then changed my mind and pallet. The lightly roasted espresso’s impressed me very much – almost tealike in their bitter, tangy complexities with a nice hint of fruit. Of all the hipster-rages, coffee is the only one that makes total sense to me.
Okay, so on first sight, CCL might be packed with tourists and expats who are of the generation that was weened on Instagram, apple tablets and cupcakes (a lot of weird beards, fake lumberjacker shirts and tennis shoes), but don’t let that bring you down or make you suspicious, this place serves (some of) the best coffee in town and here’s why you should pay for it. The beans are handroasted by friends of theirs back in Copenhagen and are all single origin and the service and anything else that they have to offer is nigh on impeccable.
Needless to say, the quality of their coffee is far superior to whatever coffee you might get in a Portuguese pastelaria. They serve fruity, creamy, chocolatey, peachey expressos – which still not enough people take and those that do, often disgrace it with heaps of sugar, to our disgruntlement. For those who like their coffee with a bit of milk, CCL serves everything from espresso macchiato to cappuccino decorated with a beautiful heart or other latte-art like professional barristas do.
They offer several brewing methods – Aeropress, French Press and V60 – of which the most surprising to us was the aeropress. It is a brewing method whereby the coffee is forced through a filter by pressing the plunger with coffee grind and warm water through a tube. The result is a fruity, tea-like extraction of coffee. It is very light, smooth in texture and would be the designated accompaniment to their high quality Danish-inspired breakfast or lunch menu (with lovely ham and roasted red pepper). For dessert, they can serve you gooey cinnamon buns and a chocolate cake with sour cream which knocks most chocolate cakes that we had in Lisbon out of the ballpark. For those who like their coffee with something extra, the lovely vanilla icecream (you can see the black spots of the vanilla seeds, always a good and pretty sign) of the CCL special goes down particularly well on a hot summer’s day and if that doesn’t do the trick, their Rooibos icetea with lime certainly will. Can you tell that we’re regulars?
Word of warning: there is only one, maybe two barrista’s at the same time working there and special brewing methods such as Aeropress or V60 take a bit more time than your average espresso in a traditional Portuguese café would, especially when there are a lot of people (which has been the case in the most recent months). Whatever you might ask for, it’s all handmade, on the spot, fresh as a flapping fish out of water. Good things take their time and in this case, it’s worth it every of your precious second. Coffee is time, and nothing else.
Fantastic, professional barristas such as our friend Isabela (with whom we went to have a memorable Feijoada) and incredibly kind service from Susan and Helle are just the perfectly leafy-formed cream on top. Thanks to their kind service and open atmosphere, CCL has transformed into a meeting place (like all good cafés should, really) for creative expats, tourists looking for roads less traveled, local freelancers and students who are looking for a nice place to work and write other than their room.
On the one hand, CCL has one leg firmly planted in Lisbon (friends as they are with other local businesses, such as one of our favorite wine stores Carinho do Vinho) but is simultaneously catering mostly to tourists and expats. Let’s hope that in time, CCL manages to reach out even more to the local Portuguese community – they have a small Piaggio scooter which they take to local markets, gardens and events – and that “the economic situation” (I hate using the c-word) is dealt with in such a way that wonderful places and initiatives like CCL are no longer considered a luxury but a necessity.
Finally, there is something to be said for the decoration, which is an attempt at exploring the limits of minimalism. White is the predominant color and whereas it might seem a little bit too clean, it does provide a nice, blank canvas for not only the strong-flavoured coffee but also for the exhibitions which every two months or so gives the opportunity to a new artist to promote and showcase their works.
As a matter of total, utter coincidence, from Monday the 14th of September until the 1st of November, Nora is exposing a selection of some of her best work over there in CCL in the exhibition “About looking”. Objectively speaking, her photographs are absolutely beautiful and merit a visit (you can even buy one or meet the artist herself who is a regular costumer there) to CCL. Oh, and the coffee there really is not too bad either.
Opening hours: 8:00 to 18:00 (weekdays), 10:00 to 18:00 (weekends)
Address: R. Nova da Piedade 10, 1200-298 Lisboa
Phone Number: 916604054