Madrid-based specialty coffee chain East Crema Coffee is riding the wave of increased demand for specialty coffee across Spain. The company’s Founder and CEO Alberto Velarde speaks to World Coffee Portal about being inspired by the painstaking approach of Japanese coffee culture and his big plans for Europe
East Crema Coffee shop in Valencia, Spain | Photo credit: East Crema Coffee
Spanish specialty coffee chain East Crema Coffee opened its first store in October 2020 in the trendy Justicia neighbourhood of Madrid, known for its boutique stores and array of food markets, cafés, restaurants and bars.
The company now operates seven outlets across Madrid and Valencia, in both small format and on-the-go stores alongside larger, flagship stores.
What was it about Japanese coffee and coffee shops that gave rise to East Crema Coffee?
East Crema Coffee was born from a trip to Tokyo, Japan, that I made in 2016 (the East in East Crema Coffee derives from our passion for travelling to Asia and Japan). The trigger that inspired our own coffee shop was the blend of specialty coffee and store design, as well as the attention of the baristas and the interaction with customers.
How would you describe the coffee culture in Spain?
Spain has a culture deeply rooted in coffee consumption. Traditionally this has centred on very commercial or roasted coffee but in recent years has changed to higher quality and specialty coffee. Since we launched in 2020, we have seen the number of specialty coffee shops increase across most Spanish cities.
We have just opened our seventh store, a take-away format in the Chamberí neighbourhood of Madrid, and we plan to open another coffee house this year.
The growth of specialty coffee shops has been enormous and, in turn, very positive, highlighting to us that consumers accept and increasingly seek specialty coffee. We expect this trend to increase further in the next five years.
Your company motto is “It's all about specialty coffee”. How do you convey this to your customers?
Our belief that ‘It’s all about specialty coffee’ is communicated by our baristas daily. Whenever we can, we explain the origin of the coffee and convey the story behind the producers who make the harvest possible.
East Crema Coffee's flagship store in Diego de León | Photo credit: East Crema Coffee
How does your flagship store in Diego de León compare to the more compact East Crema Coffee outlets in the capital?
They combine very well. Not only is our coffee offer expanded, but we are also able to provide a ‘slow coffee service’ to those customers who seek to take the East Crema Coffee experience to another level.
Which regions have growth potential for East Crema Coffee, both nationally and internationally?
Our mission is to spread a culture of good specialty coffee to the whole world, so any city or country where we find people who want to enjoy a good coffee becomes an objective to continue growing and spreading our mission. We want to reach 60 outlets across Spain before expanding to other European cities.