Barcelona’s specialty coffee scene is widely regarded as one of Europe’s finest. For years, the Cataolonian capital has been setting the bar high for others in the Mediterranean to follow and many of its roasters are regular guests in some of the world’s best coffee bars.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the city and as it so happens, Barcelona roasters have been well represented in my most recent boxes with SlowMov in December 2021 and Three Marks in February. The next roaster from this favourite city of mine to make the cut is Hidden Coffee Roasters.
The first time I visited their café in 2019, I ended up meeting its co-founder Carlos Moral and we got to talking. What I didn’t realise at the time is that Carlos hails from a local coffee dynasty that has been in the business since 1979 when Carlos’ father Rafa founded local coffee import business Mare Terra.
Since the early days, the aim was to build long term relationships with farmers although specialty coffee was practically non-existent back then and the understanding of the subject amongst consumers was also very poor. Thus, in 2008, they launched the so-called ‘Instituto Español del Café’ with the aim to provide education.
“Hidden Coffee was actually kind of born out of the necessity to provide the end-consumer with a a cup of coffee, a presentation and an explanation that was a bit different to what was available at the time,” Carlos said of the early days of this roasting business.
He and his brothers Jonathan and Joaquin all decided to start their own coffee roasting companies in the Barcelona area and were able to tap into their family’s rich heritage. The Coffeevine has actually had personal relationships with all three brothers for some time. Joaquin has been featured in two of our boxes before with his company Right Side, Jonathan and his company Café de Finca have been long-term subscribers and Carlos and I have been planning our first collaboration since I first met him in 2019.
“…we are all here to create awareness of what specialty coffee should be and can be.”
It’s been incredibly interesting to observe how each brother’s own take on specialty coffee differs from the other and where they might have some similiarities.
I asked Carlos if there was no danger of cannibalisation of each other’s business since they were all based in or near Barcelona. “No. We are all completely different and each one has his own style. Our packaging, our values and suppliers are different. We might have had the same coffees before but the beauty of this world is that it all depends on how you roast it and that’s what gives you your edge,” Carlos explained. “Ultimately, like my father’s business, we are all here to create awareness of what specialty coffee should be and can be.”
The name Hidden actually came from Carlos’ desire to bring specialty coffee out of its obscurity and into the light. That’s also the reason why the company logo is the Iberian lynx, a critically endangered species of wild cat that is endemic to the Iberian peninsula.
What’s really important to Carlos is that the entire value chain benefits the producers and that they get the right tools to produce consistenly delicious coffees that he can then roast and serve in his cafés or provide to customers like us. Indeed, making specialty coffee sustainable for the long term is something that is close to his whole family’s heart. “Without a sustainable future, we won’t be around for very long,” Carlos lamented.
Hidden Coffee Roasters also went as far as to design their own coffee roasting machine, which was built with the aim of generating the best possible convection heat because the coffees come out cleaner and more delicious. They used an Italian roaster that they previously bought as a model and then added the elements they were missing to create their own roasting machine.
It’s quite a cool feat and really shows their dedication and perfectionism.
“Did you ever compare your roaster with any other comparable machines to see if your coffee really comes out tasting better,” I asked Carlos, to which he replied: “Ha ha. Well, yes. I know it’s a very personal thing but I think our coffees taste cleaner and better and now that we’re thinking about scaling up, we’re not going to get rid of this highly personalised machine.”
Ultimately, you our dear subscribers, will be the judge of this.
And to do that, you will be able to enjoy the gorgoeus washed Ethiopian coffee from Mandeyo in Sidama that Hidden Coffee Roasters calls ‘Tikur Anbessa’, the Amharic name for black lion.
All of their coffees have animal names, actually, which is another nod of theirs towards nature and its importance to our every day lives. Aboutt his coffee, Carlos said that it’s a ‘totally exotic coffee with a very fruity and floral cup profile.’ It was also important to them when choosing this coffee that they could trace it back to the producer, something that is not always given considering Ethiopia’s tradition of co-operatives and collectives.
This coffee has a gorgeous cup profile with notes of hibiscus, apricot and honey. Our espresso drinkers will receive a different coffee from Hidden Coffee Roasters, a natural-processed Colombia from producer Luis Antonio at Finca El Encanto.
If you’d like to get your hands on this gorgeous coffee that will be joined by outstanding single origins from 19 Grams and Kalve Coffee Roasters in the upcoming April 2022 box, make sure you head over to our shop to pick your ideal box now.