Here I am at last! Madrid. My European love, my second home. There are so many things to adore about Madrid and Spain in general - be it the plethora of tapas places, the beautiful cobbled streets or just the fact that it's so marvellously affordable, there is definitely something about this city that makes you fall head over heels. However, it's not as easy as arrive, fall in love and live happily ever after, because as a born and bred Sydneysider, there is one thing that I have noticed Spain is missing and it's rather hard for us to live without - excellent coffee.
It seems that among certain circles we have been saddled with a bit of a bad reputation as bona fide coffee snobs and actually, I cannot help but agree. We have become accustomed to an incredibly high standard of coffee and anything that doesn't live up to that (namely most other countries in our opinion), just doesn't cut the mustard. Spain is one such offender for many. You can scour the streets in search of a skim cap and they'll look at you as though you're from another planet (and maybe we are). For many spaniards, coffee is either with milk or black, that's where they cap it. Even if (miracle of miracles) you manage to find a place that does know what a flat white is, it's just not the same. It's never the same.
Luckily, all hope is not lost, for I have found the answer to the prayers of the ever so precious Aussies like me and its name is Federal. Tucked away in some back streets in the centre of Madrid, there is a café run by Australians and it's a little slice of much needed home. It seems you can't force the Aussie café culture into Spain, but you can import it. Complete with modern charm, wooden chairs and big open windows to let the afternoon breeze waft inside, it's a perfect spot to set up camp for the afternoon (as do many a uni student in need of a good caffeine hit). Best of all, did I mention that the coffee is fantastic?
I have absolutely no doubt that people travel here for the coffee alone, but that isn't the only draw card at Federal. You can enjoy a whole bunch of Aussie staples such as brioche french toast for brunch or even a kangaroo burger for lunch. Today, however, I came in and sat down, ordering a flat white with a smile and a salad to accompany. Needless to say, both were delicious and to top it all off, the service is done with a smile and that's the real Australian touch.
So consider this a PSA to all of the coffee snobs in Madrid - whatever part of the world you're from, Federal is the place for you. Try it and thank me later.