Perhaps no city has been affected by overtourism more than Barcelona. Between the tour groups of clueless Americans, gap year backpackers, and poorly-chaperoned packs of students, it’s impossible to escape the hoards of tourists in Barcelona. I, of course, am part of the problem. When I visited Barcelona, I was one more foreigner with a camera gawking at the Gaudi architecture. That is, until I stepped inside of Dalston Coffee.
The East London borough of Hackney is something of a cultural center for independent businesses, including specialty coffee shops. It’s fitting that one of my favorite Barcelona cafés takes its name from the Hackney neighborhood Dalston.
The seating in the small, shoebox-shaped space is limited to one bench under shelves of retail coffee, but make no mistake, Dalston Coffee is not just a place to get a quick caffeine fix. It is a refuge from the crowds. An oasis of hospitality. An embassy of global coffee culture. A temporary indulgence offering absolution from that most unforgivable sin of being a tourist.
Dalston Coffee serves coffee from local roaster Nomad Coffee and London’s own Square Mile Coffee. Occasionally, other guest roasters join the line up. During my visits to Dalston Coffee, Square Mile’s Red Brick blend was singing on espresso, tasting great both as a straight espresso and in a cappuccino. Of course, I couldn’t resist picking up a few retail bags to brew at home as well.
Normally, baristas in high traffic, touristic areas develop a certain jaded exterior. This is not the case at Dalston. At each of our visits we experienced attentive, friendly service from skilled baristas. It’s sadly all too rare to find both kindness and competence behind bar, but Dalston Coffee is the complete package.
Although the Barcelonés might prefer you skip your next visit to their lovely city, if you go anyway, you’ll find a welcome respite from the crowds — and a good cup of coffee — at Dalston Coffee.