Dot Cafe Bar: Madrid's community coffee shop

A pandemic pivot led the owners of a neighborhood cafe in Madrid to open a permanent store, supplying locals with gourmet delicacies for all occasions.
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In 2019, María Formoso and Ros Cifuentes opened Dot Cafe Bar in the La Chopera neighborhood of Madrid, after moving from Ros' hometown, Barcelona. Ros, a lighting designer, and María, with years of experience working in hospitality, pooled their talents to create an immaculately designed cafe. They diversified during the pandemic and began selling fresh produce and groceries. Spurred on by the success of this enterprise, when lockdowns were lifted and their landlady offered them the premises next door, they decided to launch a permanent store called Super. It stocks delicacies from small-scale producers across Europe, including kombucha from Berlin's Bouche and local jam from Brutal. This is what their day looks like.

Morning

‘We open the cafe at 8am, which means we have to wake up early. Ros is a morning person, so it's easier for him. Luckily, we only live one street away so we don't have a long commute. I usually take on the barista duties in the morning and Ros prepares the food. Ours is really a neighborhood-centric cafe, so there are a lot of familiar faces. There's one group of older ladies who always get a coffee together after their aqua aerobics class at the nearby pool, and various freelancers come in to work on their laptops. Super opens at 10:30am and we have a shop assistant called Patricia who comes in to work behind the counter.’

Noon

‘Ros and I usually alternate taking the late afternoons off. One of us will finish at 4:30pm and the other will stay to close the cafe at 8pm. We're currently looking into hiring a couple more members of waiting staff because we're working a lot right now, and on the weekends, too. We're very busy, but we're happy. When we have time off, it's nice to just disconnect entirely because at work we're constantly chatting with people all day. I made all the plates for the cafe and I would like to focus more on making my own ceramics. Ros normally uses his afternoons off to play sport and do some work on his design projects.’

Evening

‘On Thursdays, we stay open late to do a dinner service. We call these our “pulled pork evenings”, because that's the dish that we serve on those nights. When Ros and I both have the night off together, we sometimes like to go to this natural wine bar in the neighborhood, called La Cruda. They share the same ethos as us when it comes to being focused on provenance, working with small producers. But most evenings we're pretty shattered, so we'll just go home and try to get an early night. I'm a bit of a night owl, though, so I'll often stay up late searching Instagram for interesting new producers of things we can stock at our store.’

This article was first published in 100 Ways to Make a Living 2022. To become a subscriber or purchase our newest guide, head to our webshop.

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