My parents created the Cafés El Magnífico brand in 1962, on the foundations of the colonial store that my grandfather had opened in 1919. They worked hard and the quality of their coffee brought them great appraisal in the neighbourhood of La Ribera (El Borne) and throughout the city of Barcelona.
1987 was a key year in the evolution of the business. I had been working for several years in the roaster and had already grown to love coffee and the trade when the opportunity arose to meet Mr. Philippe Jobin in Le Havre. Mr. Philippe Jobin was a famous importer of fine coffees, a tireless traveller and author of a reference book in the coffee sector. That meeting led to an initial first purchase of fine coffees of various origins that we began to sell with traceability. Two years later we opened the store on Calle Argenteria in La Ribera where since then we have roasted a careful selection of great coffees.
In 2018 Cafés El Magnífico acquired the historic La Portorriqueña roaster in Barcelona, a company founded in 1906. We are extremely proud to continue this historic business that represents a piece of the history of coffee in Barcelona and in particular of the emblematic trade of the Raval neighbourhood.
In recent decades, the world of coffee has evolved exponentially. One of the most relevant milestones was the creation of the prestigious Cup of Excellence competition, born with the aim of drawing attention to the finest coffee growers and their coffees, awarding them recognition with prices much higher than those on the market and splitting with economic systems that impeded their growth.
In 2002 I took part in various competitions as an International Tasting Judge, convinced of the value, opportunity and significance that the Cup of Excellence represents, and I have been returning regularly ever since. I have been similarly involved in the Best of Panama, a competition where the famous Geishacoffee became known to the world.
Coffee has granted me these and many other marvellous opportunities, allowing me to travel to incredible places and meet wonderful people all over the world.
In the year 1996, Cafés El Magnífico took a further step in its commitment to the dissemination of the history and culture of coffee, co-founding a non-profit association called The Forum Cultural del Café alongside five other coffee roasters. I have been President of this association on two occasions, and have participated in multiple Boards of Directors. Today this association is a benchmark for all professionals in the coffee business, bringing together a major part of the Specialty Coffee sector.
I never lose sight of the values my parents instilled in me, values of hard work and service that I strive to transmit to the next generation who are already taking up the reins at Cafés El Magnífico. I trust in these standards and in the importance of always keeping an open mind to the shifts and innovations that continuously present themselves, to keep our family business at the cutting-edge of the coffee trade.
Salvador Sans Velasco
In order to prepare a cup of coffee, we need to roast the raw grain that we receive from the countries of origin. Only by roasting it can we develop all the aromas hidden within, derived from the varietal or cultivar, the terroir, the agricultural practices, the processing and drying methods and above all, the training and impetus of the coffee grower to achieve an extraordinary bean. During roasting, the humidity of the grain is reduced and infinite chemical and physical reactions take place. The grain becomes more fragile, which allows it to be ground and finally prepared to drink. The key is in the amount of heat applied at all times.
Clearly, then, roasting is not an easy task. Although it may seem similar to an artesanal craft, the roasting process is also highly scientific. Roasting is governed by the laws of thermodynamics, chemistry, and machine mechanics, and the roaster begins by analysing the physical parameters of the bean, such as its size, density or water activity.
The tasting notes that lead to the selection of a certain batch of coffee are defined at the cupping table. It is the task of the master roaster to deliver the roast profile that brings those aromas and flavours to the consumer’s cup.
At Cafés El Magnífico we have two Vittoria roasters, a 15 kilo per roast and a 30 kilo. These are classic Italian-built machines and are based on a system of air recirculation. In this system, energy is transferred predominately by convection, avoiding excessive roasting of the grain surface (scorching) and therefore assuring homogeneous development. The roasters have a modular burner that allows millimetric control of the heat potency applied at all times. This heat is generated in a combustion chamber separated from the drum with a recirculation system and therefore energy saving. All of our roasts are registered and subsequently analysed in Cropster, leading software in roast quality control.
Conscious of the urgent need to care for the environment, and with a view to anticipating future-focused regulations, we have taken a step forward and in 2021 installed a Reicat smoke catalyst which eliminates as many of the odours and particles released through the chimney as possible.
We are inspired by our trade: WE ARE COFFEE ROASTERS
One of the most important tasks in our work is tasting — what we call “cupping”. Only through this discipline can we evaluate the quality of a coffee sample. Becoming an experienced cupper requires years of constant practice, learning with good teachers, cupping alongside other people, possession of a good taste memory and a curiosity about the palette of aromas and flavours of any product.
Coffee is one of the most complex aromatic and gustatory products in existence, so its evaluation poses a great challenge. A cupping, which at a professional level can only be comparative, requires time, effort and dedication. At Cafés El Magnífico, cupping is one of the pillars of our activity. We have a network of suppliers that we have been building over the years and they send us samples on a recurring basis as soon as the seasonal coffees arrive. Three or four people from the Cafés El Magnífico team taste and contrast opinions on each of these samples to decide whether to incorporate them into the coffee menu for our clients.
Claudia Sans Witty, fourth generation of Cafés El Magnífico, is responsible for Quality Control. Claudia is in charge of recording and roasting each of the samples with the Roest roaster and she prepares the cupping table, making notes on every sensory detail perceived by the panel of cuppers. Claudia has been training in this practice for years and has already participated in various tasting competitions as an International Sensory Judge, at the Best of Cauca and at seminars organised by the SCA. She has also travelled to origin countries to develop a deeper understanding of the links between taste and coffee production practices.
From generation to generation we will continue to cup and to discover extraordinary coffees for our customers.
Our reason for existing is, quite simply, to bring you great coffee. Our mission is the supply and dissemination of the finest quality coffee and the culture surrounding it.
Our trade supply to the retail and hospitality industries guarantees satisfaction for those customers who want the most superior coffee. We taste hundreds of samples a year, selecting only the ones that we hold in highest consideration and roasting with the utmost care. We never stop questioning how to improve our craft.
The coffees that we present to you are the result of our vast collective knowledge and experience, accumulated over decades of travel, trade fairs, research, studies and conversations with inspiring professionals in the coffee sector from all over the world. Our trips to origin countries have allowed us to create an extensive network of friendships and contacts with excellent coffee growers whom we deeply admire and with whom we share our love for the coffee bean.