Marcos Bartolomé – Satan’s Coffee Corner

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Marcos is the owner, CEO and sporadic barista of Satan’s Coffee Corner, a third-wave coffee place located in the heart of Barcelona’s beautiful Gothic quarter. Opened in July 2014, in only one year he has managed to make SCC one of the favourite places of any coffee lover living in or visiting Barcelona. We stopped by to chat with him about his project.

Satans

Hi Marcos! Let’s start with the origins. How did you get to where you are?

It all began really, really small. I started by owning a coffee corner within a clothing store in downtown Barcelona. It was so small that people had to leave right after being served!

After a while we moved to a bigger place, but also within an already established business space –this time it was a bike store.  Things were going well so I decided to open Satan’s Coffee Corner in July 2014.

I know good coffee is extremely important for you. How do you manage to find the best one?

We work together with a roaster company called Right Side, which is based in Castelldefells, a little town near Barcelona. We try to avoid importers and go to directly to coffee farmers instead. By remaining faithful to them we do not only enjoy a more agile flow of communication, but also the quality of the coffee gets better season after season. The reason behind this is that they are capable of investing in their farms and thus of creating a better coffee. 

What’s the secret behind a good coffee?

Besides the quality of the coffee, you need to be very clean; have great water and use fresh milk.

Every time we make a new coffee we follow a 7-step routine. 5 of those 7 steps have to do with the cleaning of the machine. Regarding the water we actually ‘designed’ our own through a re-mineralization process, which makes it almost sweet. And then there is the milk. In Spain it is very common to use UHT milk, but we only use fresh milk. Otherwise we would be ruining the flavour of our coffee.

How do you see the coffee culture in Barcelona?

Spain has its own coffee culture, and Barcelona is getting to touch a new side of it. But truth is most people are used to Torrefacto and to a bitter, more punch-in-the-face like flavour.  We, on the other hand, offer a coffee that is light, fragrant, subtle… It is actually more like having tea than having coffee. Not a punch in the face but a gentle touch.

But the culture of coffee is changing fast in the city, and I’m quite optimistic about it. Just a few months ago there were only three or four places like ours but now a lot of new businesses are opening. I think this will push this type of culture in the city.

What’s the most important thing in a coffee place?

Good water. I came to the point where I have realized that is the most important thing. It is both for the clients and for the coffee. I believe it is like your business card. If the water tastes funny then forget about your success. Don’t forget that 90% of the coffee is made out of it.

A nice welcome is also very important. Actually we designed the space so that the barista will always greet the clients, look them in the eye and establish a connection with them.

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How would you describe SCC to someone who’s never been there before?

Loud music, weird place, really good coffee and extremely good food –but people don’t know about it yet. I would also say it is the most efficient coffee place ever. I also work as a consultant for interior design spaces and with that experience I tried to make the best out of the space we have.

How important is the space for you?

For me in this case it has to be efficient. Other than that, elements such as the magazines, the plants or the artwork in SCC are curated by professionals specialised in different fields.

What’s your clientele like? Is there a big difference between the local and the foreigner customer?

80% of our customers are either foreigners or people who have lived abroad for several years. The big difference with locals is that they are usually more familiar with some coffee terms that might sound a bit funny for a Spaniard.

What’s been the most critical point of this project so far?

Wake up every morning at 8! (laughs). No, really, I believe the challenge lies in how well we communicate CSS. We serve the same product, in the same cup, using the same plate and the same spoon. Then, why does an espresso cost double as much as other cafés?

We do not want our customers to think that the price is higher because the place is ‘cute’. Our mission is to communicate the concept itself so that people will understand that the coffee they are drinking has been taken care of from the very beginning to the roasting to the moment of actually serving it. Something that you might not see when you have the cup of coffee before you, but that you can certainly taste once you drink it.

How do you see SCC evolving within the next few years?

In fall we will open a new Satan’s in Barcelona, located this time in Tetuán area. Also we have two international projects in mind to be developed in Denmark and Montreal. They will be called ‘Satan’ – removing ‘Coffee Corner’ – as we believe there are endless restoration possibilities beyond coffee.

Come what may, we are in a good position. Three years ago I made a five-year business plan. The great thing is that we have already reached the goals planned for the fifth year.

Personally I would love to go back to school to study Industrial Design. Yet to be honest it seems like I’m digging my hole to be busier and busier everyday.

– Vicente Ferrer