Spanish coffee


When the Spanish order a coffee in the morning, 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 'cafeteria.

Café Solo – espresso

Café Doble – double espresso

Café con Leche – coffee with milk, usually half and half proportionally, but it depends on the region

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

Café con Hielo – espresso with ice

Carajillo – espresso with a drop of brandy, whiskey or rum

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.

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.

Personalising 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
Corto de Café – Just over a half measure of coffee.
En vaso (de cristal) – served in a glass
En taza -  served in a cup

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.

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