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Alejandro Camacho, behind the Arabic cake counter. Marilú Báez
La Tetería, the Malaga venue for first dates, turns 30
Food and drink

La Tetería, the Malaga venue for first dates, turns 30

A pioneer in the city, the establishment now serves more than 150 types of tea and fifteen different homemade cakes, while maintaining the essence of its origins in 1993, when three friends joined forces to try their luck in what was then a lifeless street

Marina Martínez

Malaga

Friday, 31 May 2024, 12:09

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La Tetería was launched on 22nd December 1993 and with it, a new concept in Malaga. Alejandro Camacho imported it from Granada where he often met up with his friends Fernando and Marta, who were studying in the Nasrid city, a breeding ground for tea shops. Then the idea came up: "What if we set up a tea shop in Malaga? We thought that maybe it wouldn't work here because of the climate, which is less suited to bohemian and more intimate places like these, but we took the plunge anyway", recalls Camacho, admitting that the plan was simply to try it out, temporarily. They were wrong. It took off from the start.

More than 30 years have passed and La Tetería is still there, now known as 'de San Agustín' because of its location. This was not intentional: "We were looking for a hidden alley, a place with nooks and crannies where we could have different spaces, but this opportunity came up, it was accessible and we couldn't miss it". "In any case, at that time, this street was not what it is today, hardly any people passed through here, so in a way it was not so far from what we had in mind", says Camacho about a place that used to be a restaurant and which they converted into the first tea shop in Malaga.

Alejandro, Marta and Fernando, the day they opened La Tetería.
Alejandro, Marta and Fernando, the day they opened La Tetería.

They never imagined that they would be pioneers of a phenomenon that would eventually become established. A few months later, others began to sprout up around them, but La Tetería has always wanted to maintain its style, with its informal wooden furniture, its bohemian air, its cosy atmosphere and its homemade food. That's the key, to offer character. This is where the philosophy of making "everything from scratch" comes in. They present themselves as "artisans of tea, cakes and good times". And they aspire to stay on this path... with its nuances: "We have been making changes and reforms from time to time, a tea shop can't stay old, it wouldn't work without reinventing itself. We have been renewing ourselves, but we have never wanted to stop listening to the customer or to lose our unique style".

In addition to a physical expansion of the premises, they have been adding new options. Starting with a firm commitment to breakfasts, and ending with a selection of teas and infusions that now exceeds 150 varieties and fifteen types of homemade cakes. In all this time, the only thing that hasn't changed has been Alejandro Camacho, who has the hotel and catering bug in his genes - his parents ran the bar La Roca.

Change of partners

Of the founders, he is the only one still in business. He is no longer together with Marta and Fernando, but since 2016, he has a new partner of German origin, Dirk, dedicated to the distribution of teas.

"We are a European café specialising in tea", Alejandro Camacho defines himself, emphasising the homemade side of the menu. From crepes and cakes to milkshakes, natural fruit sorbets and smoothies. They also have a select variety of coffees, craft beers, Indian yoghurt milkshakes, and drinks with macha tea based on the green tea powder used ancestrally in the Japanese tea ceremony. In addition to herbal teas, different types of hot chocolate, croissants, waffles and Arabic cakes are on offer.

The breakfasts deserve a separate article. There is no shortage of fresh juice, muffins, ciabatta and baguettes. There are bowls of fruit, the house granola, cereals, different omelettes and savoury pancakes, and even sautéed vegetables. Little by little they have been incorporating new ideas. Such as the online shop, the take-away or the made-to-order cakes. However, they remain faithful to their concept: no soft drinks or alcoholic beverages. Their public is looking for something else: "We just want people to be happy, even if it's just that they come to eat a piece of cake or enjoy a cup of tea, shared or not. It is very gratifying to see that we have been (and are) a meeting point, but also that place where you go to disconnect and come back to because you feel at ease".

In fact, there are many who have returned... and those who have found love there. "A lot of people tell me that they have had their first date here or that they have met their partner here, and then they have kept coming back. This is very gratifying because for me this is my livelihood, but at the same time it has a lot of life". Alejandro Camacho could not quantify the number of people who have passed through the door of La Tetería over the years. Or who stay outside, on that small terrace usually with the 'full house' sign. There are more than a few who prefer to sit outside, in the middle of the street, one of the few that remain in the Jewish quarter of Malaga.

Outside La Tetería, with its small terrace.
Outside La Tetería, with its small terrace. Marilú Báez

This natural charm and the arrival of the Picasso Museum have left them in a privileged position, despite those lonely beginnings. Today, with a team of 15 people (some of whom have been there for more than twenty years) and with hardly any tables free at rush hour, La Tetería keeps up the good work. So much so that it is open every day of the year. And so it has been for nearly 31.

Bob Geldof and John Malkovich, among its illustrious visitors

Over the years many stories and anecdotes have accumalated. Like when they suddenly realised that the singer Bob Geldof was sitting at one of their tables, or when the actor John Malkovich visited them. Because of their location, they have been involved in more than one filming. There is no shortage of people who come here from abroad who have been recommended this restaurant. La Tetería is clear about one thing: "A lot of international customers come here, because of the situation we are in and because of recommendations they see on the Internet, but we have never focused on tourists, our priority has always been the locals".

Not surprisingly, Spanish is the accent of 70% of those who usually go there in the afternoon. Those who continue to share good times with friends, those who continue to take refuge from the world or those who continue to relive their first date there.

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