Bop

A black-and-white cartoon of a man's head, holding a coffee cup to his ear, as if he is listening to it. This appears above the letters "BOP".Bop is the latest addition to Porto’s small, but growing (and home-grown) speciality coffee scene. Located just north of the city centre, it’s around the corner from the wonderful Mercado do Bolhão, an amazing, but rather run-down old-fashioned food market. From the outside, Bop looks much like any Portuguese café/bar. It’s only when you step inside that you begin to suspect that something’s not quite right.

For starters, there are record players in alcoves on the right-hand wall and hundreds of vinyl LPs stacked up behind the counter to the left. What’s that all about? Go up to the bar (or peruse the menu outside) and you see another clue. Alongside the obligatory espresso machine and an old-style bulk-brew filter machine, Bop offers a V60 option, the brew-bar front and centre on the counter. You’ve definitely come to the right place!

As if that wasn’t enough, Bop is actually the café/bar it looked like from the outside, with draught and bottled beer, wine and spirits, plus opening hours that extend into early morning! There are also separate breakfast/bagel, lunch and bar-snack menus. The coffee is from local roaster, Vernazza, with a blend on espresso, plus two single-origin options on V60.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Bop, on Porto's Rua Da Firmeza, with its tables outside on the wonderful mosaic pavement.
  • One of the two tables in detail. I wish I'd taken a better picture of the pavement though!
  • The menu is in both windows flanking the door, presumably for when you are sitting outside.
  • The helpful sign is the only indication that you've actually reached Bop though.
  • Let's go in, shall we? The entrance is recessed in this airlock system, the door on the right.
  • Stepping inside, this is the view from just to the right of the door...
  • ... and this is the view from the back.
  • The layout's very simple. The massive bar/counter runs the entire length of the left-hand side.
  • You can sit here if you like, on one of the many comfortable bar stools.
  • Alternatively there are neat rows of tables on the right-hand side.
  • One of the three rows of tables, each of which lines up with an alcove in the wall.
  • The only other seating option is this window-bench immediately to the right as you enter.
  • Bop has basement-like qualities and there's not a lot of natural light. These lights help...
  • ... as does this row which hangs over the tabls.
  • Each of the alcoves is also lit from the inside. So, what's the deal with the alcoves then?
  • Well, that's the other side of Bop. Each houses a vinyl record player, plus headphones.
  • Extensive instructions are provided (in English). Summary: borrow a record, listen to it.
  • The extensive record collection is held behind the counter. You can also look them up on-line.
  • The rest of the massive bar/counter. If I'd been on my own, I'd have sat up there.
  • There's cake, with some very non-Portuguese options, to the left...
  • ... and beyond that, beer. Plus, we've already seen the well-stocked bar: beer, wine, spirits.
  • However, we've come for coffee, which is at the other end of the counter.
  • There's espresso, of course, a blend from local roaster, Vernazza...
  • ... while there's also bulk-brew filter. However, if you fancy something more personal...
  • ... there are two single-origins (again from Vernazza) on the V60, which is what we went for.
  • Step one. Rinse the filter paper.
  • Step two, grind the coffee and put it in the V60.
  • Now for the first pour... We ordered a V60 for three by the way.
  • Let the coffee bloom...
  • ... and then top up.
  • This was a classic V60 technique: lots of short, controlled pours.
  • Here comes another one.
  • And wait.
  • One more pour.
  • Our barista checks that everything is going okay.
  • Now we just have to wait.
  • Our coffee for three: me, Dave & Lev. Crossed arms say 'stop taking photos & let us drink!'.
  • We were given glasses for our coffee. Nice beer/coffee mats by the way.
  • My resulting coffee, a delightful single-origin from Honduras.
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When I went to Porto in May, I expected that the only speciality coffee I’d have would be what I’d brought with me. However, my friend Dave tracked down local specialty roaster, Vernazza, which led us to the delightful Mesa 325. Now, whenever you are in a new town and you find a speciality coffee shop, always ask where else to go. This one tip has yet to fail me, and the staff at Mesa were keen to tell me all about Bop, which had opened the previous December.

Located on a quiet street to the north of the city centre, Bop’s narrow street front has two large windows flanking a recessed door. There are a pair of tables outside on the wonderfully, mosaic pavement, one in front of each window. Stepping inside, the layout is fairly simple: there’s a row of three, long tables on the right-hand side and a massive bar/counter, complete with bar stools, on the left. The door actually pitches you up on the right-hand side, by the window, where there’s a padded bench which looks quite comfortable, but suffers from the constant stream of customers coming in and out. The window to the left of the door is actually part of the space behind the counter.

There’s something else, other than speciality coffee, which makes Bop stand out from the crowd. The clue is in the name: Bop has this thing about music, specifically old vinyl LPs. There are three alcoves in the right-hand wall, one per table, each housing a record player and a pair of headphones. Extensive instructions (in English as well as Portuguese) encourage you to borrow a record from behind the counter and to play it, using the attached the headphones to listen to the music. The same instructions also politely ask you not to use the headphones for your own laptop or phone! If the collection, which runs to nearly 2,000 LPs, seems a little daunting, you are welcome to ask the staff for recommendations or you can browse the on-line catalogue.

We’d come for coffee (except for my friend Ian, who went for the locally-brewed craft beer). The espresso and bulk-brew filter are priced at Portuguese levels (€0.80 and €1.30) while the V60 option carries a much more reasonable price-tag of €3.00 for one, or €4.50 for two. Already rather caffeinated after our adventures at Mesa, the three of us (me, Dave & Lev) decided to share a V60 for two. There was a choice of Ethiopian or Honduran single-origins, so I went for the Honduran on the grounds that it’s not something I see very often.

I chatted with the barista as she made our coffee with evident glee (and great care). Apparently, while the good people of Porto have been getting used to speciality coffee, pour-over wasn’t catching on as quickly, the staff making maybe two V60s a day. Hence the glee.

In case you’re worried about the lack of practice, let me put your mind at rest. Our coffee was excellent. It had been beautifully roasted and equally well-made, the resulting cup being very smooth, with light, delicate, floral notes. As good a V60 as I’ve had this year, with the possible exception of Monday’s Coffee Spot, Faculty, it made a fitting finale to our trip.

575 RUA DA FIRMEZA • PORTO • PORTUGAL
www.bop.pt +351 22 200 1732
Monday 12:30 – 01:00 Roaster Vernazza (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 10:00 – 01:00 Seating Tables, Counter, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 10:00 – 01:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake, Snacks
Thursday 10:00 – 01:00 Service Table
Friday 10:00 – 02:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 10:00 – 02:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 01:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 16th May 2016

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