Casually walking down Carrer de Villarroel en Barcelona’s trendy Sant Antoni neighborhood one day, I spotted across the street a sign that read, “Books and Coffee.” Instantly intrigued, given that those are two of my favorite things in life, I jaywalked across the street, too impatient to see what this “books and coffee” thing was about to walk all the way to the crosswalk. As I neared the entrance- its outdoor space consisting of a cute cushioned bench, a wood table, and chalkboard walls filled with Catalan words that I didn’t know at the time such as “llibres,” “tallers,” and “infusions,”-, I discovered that its name was Babèlia.
I entered and discovered that the “books” portion of the sign refers to the entirety of one wall that has become a bookshelf. There are books in numerous languages– Catalan, Spanish, English, French, and German, amongst others-, as well as various categories, such as poetry, theater, children’s books, and philosophy. The books are for sale and range in price from 2-8€; they can also be borrowed for the duration of your stay in the café (as long as you put it back before you leave).
The opposing wall is a cool exposed brick that features a rotating lineup of photography and art, cutely clipped onto a piece of string that traverses the entirety of the wall. Although the café is not particularly huge, there is plenty of seating available and even a small sofa near the entrance. Furthermore, Babèlia Café offers wifi and a plethora of outlets to charge your laptop, making it an ideal space to get some work done.
The fun doesn’t stop there. The menu itself is glorious and contains a variety of beverages as well as food options. I love the selection of teas and “infusions” (herbal/caffeine-free teas) that they offer- I usually order the cinnamon and vanilla mix or the green jasmine tea. The food is tasty as well; highlights include the several different types of sandwiches they sell, all named after famous authors such as Dickens and Baudelaire. For a lighter snack, I like to indulge in the Babelia Toast, which is a comfortingly delicious toast consisting of butter, cinnamon, and powdered sugar.
Book Club & More
To deepen your involvement, you can even attend their English book club on Mondays at 7:30 P.M. Selected books have included Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro.
Babèlia is located on Carrer Villarroel 27, near Urgell Metro (red line 1) or Sant Antoni (purple line 2). Monday-Friday they are open 9:00 A.M.-9:00 P.M., and on Saturdays they are open 10:00 A.M.-2:00 P.M. and then 5:00 P.M.-9:00 P.M. They are closed Sundays.