A review of Federal Cafe in Madrid, which has plenty of seating for digital nomads or anyone doing remote work. They serve espresso-based coffee only with beans roasted in Barcelona. Vegetarian, soy and gluten-free food available on an English menu. The cafe is part of my Madrid Coffee Walk.

espresso coffee cortado madrid

Cortados are the best — Photo by Athena Lam

Cafe Overview:

madrid independent cafes

Federal Cafe is in the fabric of Plaza de las Comendadoras — Photo by Athena Lam

Federal Cafe requires a little more effort to reach in Madrid’s downtown core. Unlike its other illustrious cafe kin, it sits on a turn off an already quiet street with more children playing than cars or shoppers combined.

For that reason, Federal Cafe is also unique in how spacious it is compared with its peers down a few blocks. Two sides have large windows, one set of which opens directly for people to sit on the ledge.

independent coffee house madrid

Open window ledges make you a part of the neighbourhood too — Photo by Athena Lam

This expansive cafe has light flooding the white walls from two sides. Take your pick of window bar seats, communal or small group tables, and of course the window ledges. They have WiFi and one or two plugs, but I would recommend bringing a fully charged laptop so no-one accidentally trips over your cord since the seats are further away from the walls. They kindly ask guests to not use laptops on weekends and holidays — the server who brought me my menu started with a gentle explanation before making her request of me the afternoon I dropped by.

third wave coffee madrid

Federal Cafe has WiFi on weekdays for remote work — Photo by Athena Lam

Since I wasn’t officially working that day, it was a good excuse to close the screen and look out at the families and friends smiling and chatting away in the plaza. I sipped my coffee and noticed how the sparkling between the leaves transitioned from blinding white to a warm golden as the sun slipped down to the rooftops.

remote work cafe madrid

They ask patrons not to work on laptops during weekends and public holidays — Photo by Athena Lam

While I don’t think it’s a loss, Federal Cafe only serves espresso-based coffees roasted by El Magnifico in Barcelona. I think I must have mistakenly ordered a single-shot drink because I remember regretting that it was too milky for my liking. The foam was well frothed, though I personally prefer a slightly thicker mix in the milk (perhaps not their fault given I ordered too large a drink). The coffee flavours I did taste were, as a result, not as strong or complex as I’d have liked — a smooth nutty profile was as much as I could make out. In short, maybe get a proper double-shot cortado. 😉

madrid cafes

Yummy pastries and meals — Photo by Athena Lam

As for the food, Federal Cafe has a tempting menu even though I had a hearty lunch and was going to have an equally belt-bursting dinner. They have everything from filling brunch and lunch dishes to home-baked desserts and salads. The menu has English. But best of all is the number of options for vegetarians and people with other dietary requirements such as gluten and soy-free food.

madrid independent cafes

Federal Cafe has an English menu, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options — Photo by Athena Lam

Their Story / What I like About Them:

third wave coffee madrid

Super friendly staff who speak English at Federal Cafe — Photo by Athena Lam

If I lived in Madrid, I would come to this cafe just for the space and the friendly staff. I personally don’t mind the “typical” Australian-influenced modern design — it’s pleasant, bright, and comfortable to stay in for at least a few hours.

Lots of seating! — Photo by Athena Lam

Federal is actually a franchinese cafe with locations in Valencia and Barcelona as well. The name comes from a small town in Northern New South Wales, Australia. According to the website, “There’s not much to do but dream, and watch the rain fall on quiet streets and the phonebox.” As far as I know, the designs of the cafes generally have the signature window ledge seats that give patrons the pleasure of being a part of the street scene while dining on their latest seasonal menu items (or a glass of wine because, hey, they’ll host you until midnight depending on the day).

madrid independent cafes

Coffee or a glass of wine — Photo by Athena Lam

Good For:

  • Coffee: Espresso-based drinks
  • Food: Brunch, lunch, baked goods and desserts, salads
  • Cafe Space: 30+ people and at least 20 for outdoor tables
  • Friends: Hangouts, meal
  • Workspace: Window bar tables, communal and small-group tables, outdoor tables, and window ledge seating (but you’ll probably be working with the laptop on your lap
  • Remote Work: Wi-Fi available, 1-2 plugs
Address: Plaza de las Comendadoras, 9, 28015 Madrid, Spain
Website: Website
Mon – Thurs: 9:00 – 24:00
Fri – Sat: 9:00 – 01:00
Sun: 9:00 – 17:00

If you liked this post, check out the rest of the cafes in my Madrid Coffee Walk or other cities like Tokyo, London, and Vancouver.

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