Where the old meets the new and artists meets inspiration, Skye Maunsell decided that El Poblenou needed a wind of change. It was in the heart of this old industrial neighborhood that the future of Barcelona’s coffee scene has been created: Skye Coffee. The idea, still fresh in the mind of the owner when she first launched it, ended up being a success.
Let’s be honest: Barcelona has everything anyone would ever want. Friendly people to live with, the soothing sound of waves crashing to shore and a lifestyle that combines creativity and inspiration together. There was only one thing missing: coffee. Good coffee.
Working in the neighborhood and already being an entrepreneur with her own company of interior designing, Skye decided to seize another challenge and see where it would leads her. Two years later, she is with us, happier than ever, talking about how it all started.
Originally from England, Skye has been living in Barcelona for nearly 14 years. “I was very happy in London, but it’s a really big city—it’s fabulous, but it’s very expensive and very hectic. Barcelona is more like a small city, people are friendly and you can be extremely spontaneous,” Skye mentioned while talking about this town she learned to love like her own. El Poblenou, the neighborhood she’s in, is an industrial part of the city that she easily compares to Williamsburg in New York or Shoreditch in London. Companies moved to the outskirts awhile back already and there was nothing around for almost 5 years. Now, you can see a bunch of small entrepreneurs and artists coming in.
“Nearly three years ago, I realized that there was nowhere in Barcelona to enjoy a good coffee within a cool space, so I thought it could be a good business to do. Places around here are still not that good, but it’s getting better,” Skye added. The realization that there were no coffee shops to feel comfortable at was the turning point and that’s when Skye decided to buy a Citroën HY Truck from 1972. Respecting the history of the truck and its classic style, Skye turned the truck into a coffee shop with a new colour inspired by the well-known silver Porsche. Now located in a modern industrial warehouse, the truck is parked almost year-round to let you enjoy high-quality roasted coffee in a unique way. “My husband and his business partner, who are architects, actually moved in that space 12 years ago as their office. I joined them maybe 8 or 9 years ago and we’ve been working together ever since.” “I thought it was a shame to have this space without anyone being able to see it,” she continued. As Barcelona isn’t like other places in America and doesn’t allow food trucks, the idea to open their space to the public while bringing something new was unavoidable.
Of course, this career path wasn’t something Skye would have expected, but it was with a laid-back attitude that she went into this project and decided that no matter if it works or not, things are going to be alright. “I really didn’t think it would take off as much as it did. I thought that if it doesn’t work, I will just use the van to drive up the coast and get to the beach with a surfboard on top,” she laughed about. Totally hooked on the van, there was no way Skye would have let go of it, with or without the coffee shop. As she said it so well, “you need to take the risk and go with it. If you’re stressing the whole time, you’re not even enjoying it.”
Not only a coffee shop, Skye Coffee hosts events occasionally as well as pop up brunches. With a chef coming to cook on weekends and an open studio filled of mix and match chairs and tables, there’s no cooler place to be at. Also, if you’re in town during the good moment, there are some exhibitions that can be going on and other creative events that you could want to join.
“That was the other reason we opened—we wanted a great community space for everyone and other creative friends. People can use us as a meeting point to grab a coffee and chat. The ambiance we have here is super interesting, especially with the locals and tourists mixing up,” she then added. This passion for people has been driven her since the start and she loves seeing new customers coming in, especially to create new connection with them. Living with the mentality that knowing the owner makes the space feel different, you can always see Skye running up and down to say hi to people while trying to work on her other business.
Growing up, Skye originally wanted to be a designer for TV shows and films. Even though she tried and didn’t like creating things that wouldn’t last, she managed to find her place in the designing world. It is only during the last three years that the idea of starting something else was on her mind, without having the idea of a coffee shop yet.
Skye always travelled a lot and this is exactly where her inspiration comes from: “The more you travel and the more culture you see, the more inspired you become,” she explained. Fascinated by New York City, she could move to America for a few months in a heartbeat, as much as she could disappear on a Greek Island instead. With two businesses though, the chance for it to happens are quite low, but still in her mind for a near future.
Until then, the idea to expand Skye Coffee and open another space is around the corner. Currently working with her husband towards a new building in the same area to integrate a second Skye Coffee, we will see what’s next for them as well as the future of this unique coffee shop. One thing we can say, though, is that we’re totally obsessed with the aesthetic of the place and would be willing to make a detour during our next surf trip just to check it out.
Visit Skye if you’re around Barcelona. She’s amazing!