Caffe Cordina is synonymous with coffee in the city. The much-loved cafe, frequented by locals and visitors alike, serves as an excellent spot in the heart of Valletta where one can enjoy coffee with a sweet pastry, or lunch outdoors in the picturesque Pjazza. We sit with Luca Cordina, the 3rd generation of Cordinas now running the much-loved cafe in the heart of Valletta.
The cafe was originally located in Bormla, where it had been since 1837. The original premises suffered a direct hit during the war by a German bomb which completely destroyed it and was what prompted Luca’s grandfather, Cesare Cordina, to make the move to Republic Street in Valletta which was significantly different back then in 1944.
A coffee shop with a rich history
The entire building where the cafe is now housed was the Treasury of the Knights of Saint John, which the Knights used to refer to as ‘Casa del Commun Tesoro’, or the Treasury of the Order. The beautiful premises boasts amazing art, primarily the frescoes created by Malta’s most famous painter Giuseppe Cali, which depicts the history of Malta.
The structure has since been enlarged from its original size with the addition of two adjacent shops, opening an ice-cream counter onto Republic Street and moving seating outdoors in Pjazza Regina. The concept itself also had somewhat of a make-over, evolving from a cafe and confectionary to a restaurant as well.
“Many people do not know this but we have a massive dolceria underground where we produce all of our sweets, hot snacks such as pastizzi etc and cakes. I am very much trying to push that we are also a fully fledged restaurant apart from being a cafeteria. Yes you can come to Caffe Cordina for a coffee, pastizz or sweet (which is what we are known for) but you can also enjoy a plate of fresh seafood pasta, wonderful salad or even a steak.” – Luca Cordina
The cafe, one of the oldest in Valletta, is a member of the European Historic Cafes Association being the 11th oldest Cafeteria in Europe. Locally, it is considered a pioneer and a great icon of the city. They were the first cafe to import an espresso machine from Italy, and to this day continue to produce artisanal and traditional Maltese sweets and pastries. They have had the pleasure of receiving many distinguished visitors: from Presidents to Ambassadors, dignitaries, well-known personalities from around the world and local politicians and celebrities.