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Ordering a coffee in Spain.  When the Spanish order a coffee, they appear to be speaking in code. It's rarely just 'coffee' (or 'café' in Spanish). These are the terms you're going to have to get to grips with if you want to keep your head above water in a Spanish café.

Types of popular coffees and what to ask for when ordering

Café Solo – A small cup of strong black espresso 

Café Doble – Double espresso - This  contains the same amount of caffeine as a café solo but with more water, resulting in a milder flavour.

Café con Leche – Coffee with milk (you may be asked if you want your milk hot (Caliente) or cold (Fría), usually half and half proportionally, but it depends on the region.

Café Cortado –  A coffee with milk served in a small glass, normally for after meals. 50/50 Coffee and milk

Café con Hielo – espresso with ice.  This summertime favorite is simply coffee with ice. It comes with two glasses: one containing black espresso and another containing ice cubes. To enjoy, add sugar to your liking, stir to dissolve the sugar in the hot coffee, and pour your coffee over the ice—it’s harder than it sounds, but perfectly refreshing on a sweltering summer day!

Carajillo – espresso with a drop of brandy, whiskey or rum, this contains NO milk.

Trifasico – Carajillo with a bit of milk, a Catalan speciality

Café Bonbon – Café Solo with condensed sweet milk - Served in a small glass. Condensed milk is poured into the bottom of the glass and the coffee is added on top. Same glass as a Cortado. You mix it with the spoon.

Ordering coffee in Spain, bonbon

Café Manchada – a glass of milk flavoured with a bit of coffee, good for children as it’s basically a mug of warm milk, with just a hint of coffee running through it.

Café Americano – large black coffee or Café Solo with more water added

Café Suizo – coffee topped with whipped cream

Café Caramel – espresso with condensed milk

Descafeinado - decaffeinated coffee

Café Granizado – Iced coffee with crushed ice in a slush drunk with a straw

As you can imagine, the above list does not include all types of Spanish coffee, but I’m sure it’s a helpful guide for beginners.

Ordering your coffee in Spain - Personalise your coffee.

Del tiempo ó con hielo: served with a glass of ice to pour the coffee into and drink it cold.
Descafeinado de máquina: Coffee machine decaffeinated
Descafeinado de sobre: Nescafé in a sachet.
Tocado de ………… – add any liquor/spirit such as Bailey’s or whisky
Temperatura del leche – leche caliente / leche natural /templada? - milk in most Spanish-speaking countries is warmed before being added to the coffee.
Corto de Café – Just over a half measure of coffee.
En vaso  – A small clear glass with no handle. Most traditional bars in Spain will serve coffee this way
En taza -  served in a cup/mug with a handle

Looking for something to mix into that café? To sweeten, ask for azúcar (sugar), miel (honey) or canela (cinnamon).

Watch out for…

If you’re buying coffee at a Spanish supermarket, be aware that some packets are labelled as mezcla (mixture), which basically means that the coffee is blended with chicory or torrefacto, opt instead for natural if you want unadulterated coffee.

Spanish Restaurant Etiquette

Do I sit? Or should I stand? Shall I wave? Or could I shout? And am I supposed to leave a tip? Find out more here

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