HOW SOME BARCELONA HISTORY AND RECYCLED COFFEE COMBINED TO INSPIRE THE CREATION OF CANFANGA PANOTS
Canfanga Panots is a side project that was started after a conversation with a close friend of ours while visiting her in Milan. She was working on the final project for her university, which was dedicated to improving a popular Italian coffee brand. Now, at the time of the conversation, we had recently launched the Carrers BCN website and were starting to explore ways to use our passion for the city and its history to evolve our brand. So, when this friend, who is also an artist, was showing us the different ways you could use recycled coffee, we had an idea, an idea that had its basis on a story we had recently written on the history of the panot de Barcelona. We love the panot de flor, and we thought that, perhaps, we could create our own version of the tile using recycled coffee. The second the idea was formulated verbally, the mission was on.
The day we returned to Barcelona, we immediately went to buy the supplies needed to create a prototype for a mold: plaster, a tub of glue, buckets, mixing sticks, and thick, plastic sheets. We already had an actual tile from the streets we would use to create the mold. After wrapping it as best we could with plastic wrap, we were ready to get our hands dirty.
To make our first molds, we used plaster. We poured it onto the wrapped panot, which was walled with the plastic sheets, and waited for it to harden. The results weren’t perfect, but it was a start. We did the same thing with smaller versions of the panot; those molds turned out a bit better.
Now that we had some molds that were ready to go, it was time to see if our idea was going to work. Using the leftover coffee grounds we had collected from our own coffee maker and some from a café nearby, we mixed it with glue to form a cement-like paste. Once the paste was ready, we filled the molds the best we could and waited to let them dry.
After poking and prodding our first coffee panots, they were finally ready to come out for inspection. The results were mixed. The ones that didn’t work out well were too runny, even after extra days to allow them to dry and set. The ones that worked were okay, but, after a day or two out in the open, the corners started to curl up. We quickly realized that we needed to find different materials if we were going to get our idea to work.
Some investigation led us to another set of materials, but we still weren’t quite happy. We talked it out and decided that we wanted make our tiles 100% eco-friendly. We did some research and found the perfect mix. When we perfected the new mixture, Canfanga Panots was really on its way!
The name for our product was inspired by the history behind the Barcelona flower. Back before its appearance, Barcelona’s streets used to fill up with mud whenever it rained because of improper street surfacing. It got to be such a problem that people from outside the city gave it the nickname “Can Fanga,” which means “Mud House,” and was used in a derogatory way; it was common to see muddied shoes, trousers and dresses due to people’s inability to avoid stepping in the mud. The local government, very much aware of the city’s poor image, approved a homogeneous paving project that would help avoid the accumulation of water on the sidewalks.
One of the tiles that was designed for the project was the panot de flor. Once the streets were paved, muddy Barcelona was no longer, even though the “Can Fanga” nickname would stick as a way for people outside of Catalonia to refer to not only the Catalan capital, but also the region.
With the history of the panot in mind, we decided to reappropriate Can Fanga, combining the words to make one, and make it the name of our product. We also decided that it was a doubly appropriate name for us since coffee can be referred to as mud.
Our hope is that our eco-friendly coffee tiles will add a piece of Barcelona history to your homes and make “canfanga” a term that becomes associated with positivity.
CANFANGA PANOTS IN THE PAPER
Thanks to our friend, Maite, at B de Barcelona, one of the shops that sells our products, we were asked to do an interview for El Periódico, which was doing a story about the Barcelona flower and wanted to speak with different small, local initiatives that used the symbol as a protagonist. Check out the article if you’re interested!
WHERE TO FIND US
Over the past two years, Canfanga Panots has grown little by little, even after hitting a roadblock due to the pandemic. A few of the shops that carried our products were forced to close— we hope they can make a comeback whenever this crisis is over or has at least died down —but we’ve stuck with it and are lucky to still have a home in a few spots around the city.
You can find our panots at:
B de Barcelona: Av. de Gaudí, 28
B de Barcelona Disseny Sostenible: Carrer Cotoners, 8 bis
Mercilona: Carrer de la Bòria, 22
Tàber Cafè: Carrer de Villarroel, 27
We ship to Europe!