Café Leather: let's jump into the world of leather crafting

By Bombinate

Artisan at work in Café Leather's workshop in Ubrique, Spain

Mindful crafting that respects and follows traditional techniques is something we get easily excited about at Bombinate, so when we first heard of Café Leather and their collection of timeless leather pieces, we couldn't wait to share this amazing find.

Founded by Miguel Sánchez Ibáñez and fuelled by a passion for purposeful design, this brand is proudly based in Ubrique, a scenic town in Spain.
Since day one, Miguel has insisted on using exclusively environmentally-friendly materials and responsible practices – adopting a zero waste and zero plastic policy, sourcing vegetable-tanned Spanish leather, and employing local skilled artisans with decades of expertise. His purpose? To prove that there is still an audience appreciative of beautiful, sustainably made pieces of the highest quality, crafted slowly like our grandparents used to.

How did you come up with the name Café Leather?

I get this question a lot actually. There're many similarities between our fine leather products and fine coffee — they're both tremendously sensorial experiences. At Café Leather we are meticulously focused on detail and handcraft each of our products, from bags to driving gloves, from luggage tags to smartphone cases. The same goes for producing specialty coffee: each phase deserves full attention and passion.

What is the difference between your approach and conventional processes?

At Café Leather we apply ecological and sustainable processes to our leathers throughout the whole manufacturing process, from tanning with natural extracts to employing the best artisan hands of Ubrique, in Spain. All the leathers we use are traceable and undergo strict quality control before we process them further.

Tell us a bit more about the vegetal tanning process

The way we tan our leathers is a secret that has been passed down from generation to generation... but I can tell you that we use natural tannins that are extracted from trees such as the Acacia or the Quebracho. 95% of conventional leather manufacturers tan their leathers in just one day, using an environmentally harmful chemical called chromium. Our tanning process can take up to six weeks and includes around 50 different procedures to reach the desired condition.

Firstly, we put the skins into a giant barrel and mix them with vegetal tannins and water for up to five weeks. Once they are tanned, we dry them in the fresh breeze that travels from the northern mountains of Spain, this normally takes another week. Finally, we apply olive oil and beeswax by hand to nourish and protect the material.

Miguel Sánchez Ibáñez, founder of Café Leather

How long does it take to create a Café Leather product from design to final stitch?

It really depends on the product, but it's a long process. It can take up to two months to find the perfect design and add the final touches to our smallest products, while some of our more complex designs can take up to eight months.

What has been your best trip?

The most exciting trip without a doubt was the first time we presented our products at trade shows Pitti Uomo in Florence and Selvedge Run in Berlin, we stayed for 20 days on the road and drove more than 7000km in a caravan. And on the second day, we got everything stolen. Cameras, computers, clothing, everything — the only thing they left behind were the product samples, which was actually such a relief because it meant we could at least still present out collection.

Also, the first trip to scout the finest leather and the skilled artisans was pretty cool. Everything was new and I knew almost nothing about the leather world. It was so exciting to find out about all the processes. This is how we discovered Ubrique, located under the overwhelming Sierra de Grazalema, one of the most beautiful so-called white villages from Cadiz, Spain. It holds a really special place in my heart.

The city of Cadiz, Spain

What's the one Café Leather product that you can’t live without?

Mmm, probably some of the new releases that we are launching this year — get ready! From the current collections, I'd have to say our gloves, either the Triton or ****the Rascal. I am a passionate biker and spent time researching the best design, materials and craftsmanship to make the finest driving gloves on the market.

What are your 5 backpack essentials?

It really depends on the place I'm going to. What I'm sure of is that the backpack will be our Libérica Roll-Top, just perfect for adventures and the day-to-day. I'd carry with me:

Our Café Leather Roasted Guatemala iPad Case to organise all my to-do’s and draw new designs

The Rascal Elkskin gloves for riding my bike
Leica M-10R
Rayban Clubmaster sunglasses
Macbook Pro 15” with our Colombia Leather Portfolio