As pretty as the brown leaves and rainy days might be, autumn has always been a cold, gray season which can sometimes get you down. And this week especially has actually been quite a pickle for us. November in our university is midterm month; and between exams, never-ending weather changes and way too many sleepless nights, we really were in need of a good cup of warm coffee to wrap our hands around.
So last Friday we decided to go to El Cafè de la Mirta (In English, Mirta’s Coffee Shop) to get a sweet treat after a full week of studying for midterms. And it really couldn’t have been a better decision. Because El Cafè de la Mirta is one of those places that somehow manage to uplift you even before you fully walk in.
And it all comes down to two people: Mirta and Jordi, a married couple who opened their little café four and a half years ago. And during these four and a half years, they have never stopped spreading their love of life. As they themselves told us “We come here every day as if we were rosy-cheeked children on their first day of school”.
It took us less than a minute inside their coffee shop to know they were telling the truth. Because in the couple of hours that we were there, people wouldn’t stop coming in and conversing with both of them as if they went there every day. And any time someone new would come in, the first thing they received was the two biggest smiles the Earth has ever seen.
Before we talked to them, while we were relaxing and people-watching for a bit, we couldn’t help but talk about how this couple was meant for hospitality. Little did we know about how different their backgrounds were from what we had expected. But we still had to hear their story. A story which, just like autumn, is very much filled with unexpected change. And as their rainy days got brighter, Mirta and Jordi managed to take their passions and make them fit into a whole new dream.
Funnily enough, Jordi and Mirta told us that they thank the Spanish economic crisis for what they ended up doing. Mirta, who had come to Barcelona all the way from Argentina as a singer/songwriter and musical producer, was working in a real estate office when her husband Jordi lost his job. And she was first tempted with the idea of opening up their own business when a woman came into the office selling a small but charming place in Sant Cugat.
And even though they really wanted to, they never made an offer for the coffee shop. That is, until that same coffee shop was again for sell not even a year afterwards.
This time, neither of them hesitated for a moment; because they wanted to work so badly, they immediately started with this new project. Mirta, who comes from a big family with a love for baking, got the dust off her old family recipes and started baking all of her favorite cakes and pastries. Jordi, a video editor and producer with experience in publicity, decorated the coffee shop with all of their pictures and installed a video screen to show every video he had ever filmed. And some nights they still do open mics and activities, trying to share everything that they enjoy with every single person that comes into the café.
And that is how this amazing coffee shop gets all of its charm. It’s not only because the cakes are amazing, or because the space is nicely decorated. It’s the coffee shop as a whole. The fact that, in Jordi’s own words, “We can’t make everything, but everything we make is good”. The fact that if you observe well enough, you get to see a lifetime of stories documented by Jordi which are cheekily hidden all around the café. The fact that they love sharing and letting people share. And they love each other so much that after more than four years of working together every day they still haven’t got a single complaint.
But what we really admire most about them is how they love each individual customer. Mirta actually told us that likes to think she’s an aunt to every one of the people who come in the shop. And, just like any close aunt, she loves to really go the distance in order to make people as happy as they can be.
And there was something that she said that really stuck to our heads: “I don’t let myself cook if I’m even a little bit sad. Because everything that I cook needs to be done out of love. And if I make cakes when I’m upset about something, I won’t be able to transmit my love to the customers. Every client to me is like a family member. And why wouldn’t you want the absolute best for your family?”
And we really couldn’t cherish more their advice. They are absolutely right.
People say home is a place where your heart is. And this whole place, from every book decorating the walls to every huge smile from Mirta and Jordi, has made so many people consider this café their home already, that we just know they will be able to share their love for as many years as they want to.
Needless to say, we will definitely come back for another one of their smiles.