Spaniards love coffee, and in Spain you’re rarely far from a café or bar serving a good cup. Forget lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites, though, because they’re only on the coffee menu at international coffee chains. Here you are guided through the Spanish coffee varieties.
In Spain, it’s always coffee time. From early morning to late evening, Spaniards enjoy coffee in everything from primitive bars to modern cafés. Coffee bars are hip in Spain, and new specialised coffee bars are popping up all the time, especially in the bigger cities, with trained baristas behind the coffee machines.
Coffee in Spain is most often brewed using the espresso method. The hard pressure on the water, combined with the small amount of perfectly ground beans, gives the coffee a stronger taste than if it were brewed on a regular machine or in a stamping pot. The espresso coffee is then added to water, milk or spirits, depending on the type of coffee you want.
The guide gives you the names and descriptions of the different Spanish coffee varieties, so you know how to order your coffee in Spain.
Café solo is the Spanish version of espresso, but in a stronger version. It is the most popular coffee in Spain and is often drunk after dinner.
A cortado is a café solo with a dash of milk, in some cases milk foam, and the closest thing to a cappuccino. In some regions it is called a café manchado.
Café Americano is a regular black cup of coffee, the closest thing to the kind we used to drink in buckets in Denmark before it became fashionable to enjoy other coffee varieties. In Spain, however, they do not serve filter coffee, but espresso with boiling water. If you just order un café in Spain, you will also get a black cup of coffee.
If you’re not a big coffee drinker but just want a little taste of coffee, order a leche manchada. Translated, it means “milk with coffee” and you get a cup of hot milk with a small dash of coffee.
Café con hielo
On a hot summer’s day, an iced coffee is great. You get one of these when you order a café con hielo. You’ll get a cup of hot coffee and a glass of ice cream on the side. Pour the coffee into the glass with ice, and just a moment later you have an iced coffee. If you want milk in your iced coffee, order a café con leche con hielo.
If you want decaffeinated coffee, order a café descafeinado. Spaniards don’t drink much decaf, so it’s usually only available as instant coffee. You get a cup of hot water and a cup of decaffeinated coffee. However, several modern coffee bars and cafés increasingly have decaffeinated coffee on the machine. If you find it on the map, order an americano descafeinado. If you want your decaf with milk, be sure to order it con leche.
If you have a sweet tooth, try a café bombón, which is rich and sweet condensed milk topped with a shot of espresso.
This coffee variant is perfect for a chilly day. Carajillo is a shot of espresso, with rum, whisky or cognac. You choose your favourite alcohol.
How to order coffee in Spain – infographic
Save the infographic to your phone or iPad and you’ll have the guide to hand when you’re ordering coffee on holiday in Spain.
Do you know the Spanish sherry types?
If not, you can get to know them here