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La Fábrica Girona: Could this be Spain’s Best Cycle Cafe?

Written by Kirstie Pelling

La Fábrica Girona: Could this be Spain’s Best Cycle Cafe?

Kirstie Profile SmallCyclists are regularly seen on the streets of Girona. The proximity of The Pyrenees and a warm climate make it a magnet for athletes and recreational bikers alike. Now a new cycle cafe in this Catalonian city is offering them something special. Run by pro-cyclist Christian Meier and his wife Amber, La Fábrica Girona is a sophisticated fusion of bike cafe and specialist coffee house. And word is getting around. Towards the end of our recent Transpyrenees biking adventure we headed to La Fábrica Girona for coffee, cake and cycling chat…  

Around the planning table at La Fabrica Coffee Works and Cycle Cafe Girona

Inside La Fábrica Coffee Works and Cycle Cafe Girona

A fusion of coffee and cycling

It’s not often you are lovingly served a latte in a bike cafe by a Tour de France cyclist. But then, to be honest it’s not often in Spain that you are lovingly served a latte. Coffees here tend to be uncomplicated, cheap, fast and unadorned by pretty pictures of coffee beans and butterflies. La Fábrica cycle cafe is veering from the norm. Co-owner Amber Meier explains their philosophy.

“We’re the only coffee shop in Girona that roasts our own coffee. We do pour-overs and filter coffees. We source the beans from different countries. We use double shots in all our beverages.”

While all this may sound normal in the UK, Amber says it’s a new concept for many Catalonian locals.

“Normally the cafes here have a contract with one coffee provider. They provide the machine and the cups for free and then the cafes buy their product. It was very scary because we didn’t know if people were going to like us.”

Amber Meier preparing coffee at La Fabrica Coffee Works and Cycle Cafe Girona

Amber Meier is breaking the mould (for Spain) in the way she sources and serves coffee at La Fábrica Girona bike cafe

A coffee revolution

Today’s visitors like it well enough. The communal table in the centre of this cycle cafe (counter-cultural in itself) is populated at different times during our visit by German and American tourists, a couple animatedly discussing a triathlon and someone who looks like he’s snuck out of the office for a brew. The huge honey cake that presides over the counter at the start of our visit is demolished by the end. And cyclists continually wheel up to the terrace tables in the alley outside as they finish their morning’s training. One of these is cyclist Christian Meier, who fits in visits around his day’s training regime. He doesn’t come because he loves cake (although apparently he does). The café is his brainchild and he works here after a practice spin each day if he can.

It's all about the bike in La Fabrica Coffee Works and Cycle Cafe Girona

It’s partly about the bike in La Fábrica Girona. But just as much about the coffee and cake, served in a stylish environment.

A career spin off

Amber and Christian moved to Girona from Vancouver, Canada eight years ago. But they didn’t come to open a bike café. Christian was about to start his first professional cycling contract, with Garmin Slipstream.

“They required their cyclists to be based in Europe for logistical reasons,” says Amber. “And a lot of them are based in Girona. So we moved over here and eight years kind of flew by. And last year he did his first Tour de France. And after that we kind of thought now what?”

They had always talked of opening a café when Christian retired. But Amber nudged her husband to bring it forward.

“I basically hit a wall and said ‘You did your dream but I’m not studying or learning. I need something for me.’ And he said ‘Ok, let’s do the retirement plan now.’”

It's all about the coffee in La Fabrica Coffee Works and Cycle Cafe Girona

La Fábrica is a fusion, of Christian and Amber, of their passions, cycling and coffee. And dogs are welcome too.

A word of mouth success

The couple have relied on locals and tourists spreading the word, and it has worked.

“Christian said he didn’t want to pay a dime in advertising. We want people to love our product so much that they tell other people,” explains Amber, who says people come for many reasons. “Some come because they think the architecture is really cool. Some come for the coffee. Some come because they are new to Girona and starting cycling here and they want to know some routes. On the table we have books and maps, and you can chat to other cyclists about good rides. We are extremely bike friendly – we have parking outside, you can bring your bikes in here; the floor is concrete for your cleats.”

But this bike cafe isn’t he kind of place that smells of bike grease and sweaty shorts. This is a boutique style cycle cafe. Set in a meticulously renovated, century-old carpenters shop.

“It was like a wedding dress. We saw the space and thought this is it. I could see my husband going bing! bing!”

Photos by Kristof Ramon at La Fabrica Coffee Works and Cycle Cafe Girona

La Fábrica Girona stylish in every detail. Cycling photos by Kristof Ramon feature on the walls.

Stylish in every detail

Christian and Amber thought long and hard about design. Everything is branded, from the La Fábrica range of cycling clothes to the coffee cups to the phone protectors you can also buy online. There are racing cyclists looking down from on high, snapped in their prime by Christian’s favourite photographer. There are some beautiful bike frames floating around.  In the toilets the door handles are Dali moustaches and lights are mounted into handlebars. And there’s a minimalist drinking fountain with free water. But Amber says it’s not intended to feel like a gallery – more like a hangout for like minded people.

“We wanted it to be a really homely place. I don’t cycle. I don’t ride a bike at all and I wanted it to be a place you can come whether or not you like cycling. We wanted to cater to everyone, but everyone who has something in common.”

Branded La Fabrica Cycle Gear for sale

La Fábrica Girona cycle cafe is well branded… from the coffee cups to the La Fábrica cycle gear. And all available to buy too.

A healthy choice and no Pepsi

Food wise, there is a healthy glow to the place. Popular staples are bowls of muesli, sandwiches on delicious granary bread and cake crammed with undiluted nature.

“There’s no hydrogenated vegetable oil or things you can’t pronounce. It’s all really good wholesome ingredients,” says Amber. Fitting for cyclists.

I find myself wondering if it’s the only café in Spain that doesn’t sell Coca Cola. The downside is that for a family it isn’t cheap.

“Honestly? It’s expensive but people are saving their pennies to come as they feel it is worth saving for,” say Amber.

It may be all about coffee at La Fabrica, Girona but the cakes are exceptional too

It’s not just the coffee which is especially good at La Fábrica. The cakes are exceptional too. And very nutritious too apparently.

Tastes as good as it looks

The coffee is indeed good, beautifully presented in bowls on wooden blocks with powder hearts and leaves in the froth. I agree it is worth the price and tip the euros out of my purse to order another round.

“We want people to know we roast the coffee. We use fresh milk that we bring in every day. You’re getting so much more for the price. People will go to Plaza Independencia and get an espresso for a euro, but it’s not because our profit margin is bigger; we are just using better ingredients to get a better coffee.” says Amber.

The cake is on another level from the picnics we’ve been having for the last six weeks. It is some of the best I have tasted anywhere. And I find myself reflecting on how different it is when a cafe is born out of passion. In this case passion for coffee and for cycling.

La Fábrica is on Carrer de la Llebre, in Girona’s Old Town. You can probably find it by following a cyclist.

It's all about the bike in La Fabrica Coffee Works and Cycle Cafe Girona

La Fábrica Coffee Works and Cycle Cafe, on Carrer de la Llebre, Girona

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

9 Comments

  • Hey Kirstie,

    thanks for sharing, I love cafes that are dedicated to a certain topic. There are too many “same same” cafes in this world, we need more of those!

  • I have visited Barcelona three times and still have not made it to Girona. You have provided yet another incentive to remedy that the next time I’m in Catalunya which I hope will be in the near future. La Fabrica sounds like a special place.

    • Hi Chamisa. Don’t worry, you won’t have to take out a loan! It’s pretty similar to UK prices. It’s just more expensive compared to coffee elsewhere in Spain.

  • I’ve just returned from an organised press trip, cycling around Girona and we never got to visit this place. I was so disappointed! Girona is stunning and there are so many opportunities for cycling for all abilities and levels of fitness. I’ll definitely be heading back and next time, I am there!!

  • We stayed above the cafe .
    Beautiful apartment and wonderful cafe.
    Family friendly and wonderful food.
    A must for all visitors to Girona

  • Christian & Amber also have a high end bike shop – The Service Course. We rented some high end bikes and Christian took us on a tour through the hills near Girona. Some of our group of “grey haired” cyclists were reluctant to ride with a Tour de France cyclist, but it was alot of fun and everyone felt it was a highlight of our week of cycling. He and Amber are down-to-earth and thoroughly delightful folks. It’s great to see them offering a unique cafe and bike shop in Girona. Hats off to them. Thanks for the great article.

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