In Old San Juan’s hidden and enchanting Callle Tetuán lies a little tiny coffee shop called Spiga Café. It measures no more than 10 by 50 feet and is crammed between a high end boutique and a prestigious law office. But, as Han Solo would say, “she doesn’t look like much but she’s got it where it counts.” Open the doors of the little tiny café and you’ll enter a clean and rustic space featuring industrial concrete walls, wooden tables, and a mural of the Italian comedic legend Totò.
While Spiga may have spectacular food and coffee, the shop’s magic lies exactly in the middle where the bread display counter is located. Spiga Café produces some of Puerto Rico’s finest breads.The island, has a rich tradition in bakery and Spiga pushes this tradition. In fact, the word spiga is Italian for ear, the grain-bearing tip part of the stem of a cereal plant.
The story behind Spiga’s bread is an inspiring story of chance. The shop’s owner, Iván del Toro, had a vision of having a coffee shop that served high end pasta’s and paninis. He had contacted, Levain, the island’s leading specialty bakeries about supplying bread to them, but was never called back. Growing impatient, he decided to find a way to make the bread himself. After a couple of YouTube videos and a couple of batches of breads, Ivan made a batch that he felt comfortable with and took it to Spiga. The breads became a hit and the rest is history.
Little Shop, but Huge Flavor
Today, people come from all over the island just to try Spiga’s breads and if you are not convinced about the bread’s reputation just ask Ernst Huechelhofen, founder of Old San Juan’s legendary bakery, Café Berlin and Peter Schintler, chef owner of Marmalade, one of Old San Juan’s finest restaurants. Both men frequent the restaurant and consider the bread to be of the finest quality. Most of the bread that Spiga produces is used in their paninis and although Spiga is not a full blown bakery (at least not yet) they do occasionally sell their bread to customers who reserve a loaf in advance.