Fábrica Coffee Roasters

An espresso in a classic black cup, with white interior, on a black saucer. The words "Fábrica Coffee Roasters Lisboa" are written in white on the side of the cup.Like Lisbon’s branch of the Copenhagen Coffee Lab, which I’d visited previously in the day, Fábrica Coffee Roasters is not a home-grown affair, but it feels more Portuguese. Long, thin and very basement-like, it has a lot in common with a Portuguese café bar, although with its comfortable sofas, upcycled furniture, hand-made counter and lights encased in cages, it wouldn’t look out of place in Shoreditch!

At the heart of Fábrica is the coffee roasting operation, which is tucked away beyond the counter at the very back of the store in a space that doubles as a retail area. Here the very shiny 5kg Probatone roasts all of Fábrica’s coffee, which you can also buy to take home. Like the Copenhagen Coffee Lab, Fábrica has an impressive output, with three options on espresso and another three on filter, which can be had as an Aeropress or Kalita for one, while the V60 and Chemex options come either for one or two.

There’s a decent menu, all the food prepared on-site in the kitchen to the left of the counter, plus lots of cake. This being Portugal, it’s not just coffee, of course, with beer and wine also making an appearance.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Fabrica Coffee Roasters on Lisbon's Rua das Portas de Santo Antão.
  • Not that this is anything to do with Fabrica, except that it's just up the street and shows just how steep/hilly Lisbon actually is.
  • Right, back to Fabrica, where I was tempted to sit on the substantial outdoor patio...
  • ... with its shady canopy and neat list of what's on offer.
  • However, even better things await inside, where Fabrica is long, thin and basement-like.
  • Looking back through the door on the left-hand side at the patio. It's still very tempting.
  • What looks like another door on the right isn't, by the way. Instead it houses this table.
  • There's an eclectic mix of seating inside. After the tables on the right comes these chairs...
  • ... and beyond that some more tables. However, we're getting ahead of ourselves.
  • On the other (left-hand) side, just inside the door, is this table...
  • ... followed in quick succession by a pair of lovely sofas, this one first...
  • ... and then this one tucked in by the counter.
  • The whole ensemble of seating on the left-hand side.
  • Opposite the counter on the right are these two tables which look somewhat homemade...
  • ... and finally, right at the back, is this neat little booth.
  • The view along the right-hand side of Fabrica, looking back towards the door...
  • ... and here looking right down the centre, where there's a clear path to the front.
  • The counter, a beautiful wooden affair, is on the left, brew-bar to the fore.
  • It consists of two parts, cakes and brew-bar at the front, espresso machine at the back.
  • However, that's not all. Beyond the counter is...
  • ... the beating heart of Fabrica, the roastery.
  • Pride of place goes to this 5 kg Probatone roaster, looking very shiny and new.
  • The obligatory sacks of green beans live at the back, along with various boxes. And beer.
  • Some of the finished product, bagged up and ready to go.
  • The area also doubles as a retail section, with racks of coffee making kit.
  • More kit!
  • Back in the main body of Fabrica, it's not afraid to nail its colours to the mast. Guess who felt a bit silly, sitting there, making notes on his laptop?
  • The wall's not just for notices, by the way. There are also pictures. Big ones, like this...
  • ... and little ones like these on the opposite wall.
  • I particularly liked this row of hooks. I don't know why...
  • There are plenty of lights, particularly at the back, where there's no natural light.
  • The lights here are particularly fierce though and need to be kept in cages.
  • To business, I think. But what's that behind the counter?
  • Why, it's Fabrica's impressive kitchen, where all the food is prepared.
  • Okay. Focus. Back to the coffee. There are three choices on espresso...
  • ... and plenty more on filter...
  • ... where the trusty EK-43 takes care of the grinding.
  • The brew-bar, front & centre. As well as V60s, there's the Kalita Wave, Aeropress & Chemex.
  • However, I wanted something from the espresso machine.
  • I went with the barista's recommendation of the house blend as an espresso...
  • ... which I was intrigued by, so I had it in milk as well.
  • Nice latte art.
  • I also came away with a bag or two of coffee, strictly as gifts for friends, you understand.
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Fábrica Coffee Roasters is on Rua das Portas de Santo Antão, one of the streets running northwest away from Praca do Rossio at the northern end of the Baixa in the heart of Lisbon. On the right-hand side of the street, you’re immediately struck by the raised, fenced-off patio jutting out across the pavement. This offers six two-person tables, ideal if you want to sit outside. Alternatively, head on into the shady and cool basement-like interior (although whether it’s cool when the roaster is going full blast is another matter). In keeping with the basement feel, there’s the door, plus a window on the other side of a central brick pillar, but that’s it as far as natural light goes. The subdued lighting, particularly at the back of the store, combines with the exposed brick walls, bare wooden floorboards and low ceilings to enhance the subterranean feel.

The layout is fairly simple, with the door on the left, and Fábrica stretching out ahead of you, seating lining either wall. The counter is about three-quarters of the way back on the left, with more seating opposite it and, beyond it at the back, the roastery/retail area. As well as being able to buy Fábrica’s output by the bag here, there’s a good selection of coffee making equipment that you can take home with you.

The seating is an eclectic mix, with something for everyone, from the small, round table in the window to the pair of comfortable sofas up by the counter. Along the way, there are armchairs, communal tables, and, right at the back, opposite the counter, a neat little booth. If you can’t find somewhere you like, it’s probably because someone else has got there before you! Wherever you sit, you don’t have to worry: Fábrica offers a full table service. This is Portugal after all!

As I mentioned in the introduction, Fábrica isn’t a home-grown affair, set up in 2015 by a pair of brothers from Russia. It’s also the first specialty coffee shop/roaster I’ve come across in Portugal (Copenhagen Coffee Lab doesn’t count since the roastery is back in Copenhagen). What’s more, of the five coffee shops I visited, it’s the only one which has what I’d call a modern espresso machine/grinder set up.

Fábrica roasts mostly single-origins, either for espresso or filter, although there is also a house-blend on espresso. This is joined by a pair of single-origins (Ethiopian and Colombian while I was there). There are several options on filter too (Brazilian, Colombian and Ethiopian single origins during my visit). I asked the barista for a recommendation and it was suggested that I tried the house-blend, which I had as an espresso.

This was a quite bright, acidic coffee, a little sharper and a little less well-rounded than I’d prefer, but very pleasant nonetheless. Intrigued, I decided to try it in milk, ordering a flat white. Often a coffee can taste strikingly different in milk, but here it was more of an evolution in taste, the brightness of the coffee cutting clearly through the milk, while the acidity provided an interesting counter-point to the milk’s sweetness. What’s more, it became increasingly balanced and rounded as it cooled, which is something that I rarely get in flat whites, associating that sort of behaviour with filter coffee.

RUA DAS PORTAS DE SANTO ANTÃO 136 • 1150-265 • LISBON • PORTUGAL
www.fabricacoffeeroasters.com +351 21 139 9261
Monday 09:00 – 21:00 Roaster Roaster (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 21:00 Seating Tables, Sofas, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 09:00 – 21:00 Food Cakes, Sandwiches, Lunch
Thursday 09:00 – 21:00 Service Table
Friday 09:00 – 21:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa (€20 minimum)
Saturday 09:00 – 21:00 Wifi No
Sunday 09:00 – 21:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 18th May 2016

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