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Coffee in Spain

How to order the many types of coffee in Spain

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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. (If you're more a tea drinker, read about Tea in Spain)

See also: Breakfast in Spain


  • Café solo Espresso, the standard form of coffee in Spain - if you want lots of water in it you could ask for it to be added (con agua caliente) but you might get laughed at.
  • Café con leche Espresso with milk added. The most popular form of coffee in Spain.
  • Cortado Espresso with a drop of milk. Sometimes called 'cafe manchado' (stained coffee), not to be mistaken with the drink below.
    In Barcelona, the difference between a 'cafe con leche' and a 'cortado' has been lost and you will find your 'cortado' to be a lot milkier than elsewhere in the country. I asked a Spanish barman how to order a cortado in Barcelona like in the rest of Spain and he told me to say 'cortado con poca leche' (a coffee with a little milk).

    In Germany, there is an erroneous tendency to sell a drink called a 'café cortado' which is actually a 'café bonbon' (see below).
  • Leche manchada 'Stained milk', a little coffee and a lot of milk. More like coffee flavored milk than a proper coffee. Not very common, though I've seen it in the south (in Seville).
  • Café descafeinado Decaff coffee. You can ask for it from the machine (de maquina) or from a sachet (de sobre).
  • Café con hielo An espresso and a glass of ice. You're supposed to pour the espresso over the ice.
  • Café bonbon Espresso with sweetened condensed milk. Sometimes referred to as a café cortado condensada. A mix of half normal milk and half sweetened condensed milk is called a leche y leche.

     

  • Cafe bonbon con hielo Same as above bout poured over ice. It's the sort of thing Starbucks would call a Super Duper Wacky Frappuccino or something like that (and charge you twice the price).

In some bigger cafes, there will be even greater selection of coffees. Irish coffee or Russian coffee (with vodka) are some examples. Non-alcohol ones include Viennese coffee (coffee with milk and whipped cream) or, my personal favorite,

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