Coffee, or café, is a beloved part of the Spanish culture. When paying your first visit to Café Spain, you will notice that most Spaniards start the day with a coffee, end each meal with coffee, and meet at a café for coffee around 5:30 pm, to prepare for their habitually late evening activities. Here’s your guide to getting the most out of your Spanish coffee experience!
Types of Spanish Coffee
The endless coffee concoctions we have brewed up in the United States are starting to rise in popularity across the globe. Spaniards, however, still prefer to stick to their six traditional favorites:
- Café Solo is straight espresso, served in an adorable (not sure the Spaniards would use that word, though) little cup.
- Café con Leche, the most popular item in every café, is espresso with steamed milk.
- Cortado, or sometimes Café Manchado, espresso with just a drop of milk.
- Leche Manchada is essentially the reverse of the Cortado or Café Manchado- milk with a little bit of espresso.
- Café con Hielo is a glass of ice with espresso for you to pour over yourself. This is most popular in the summer.
- Café Bonbon is espresso with sweetened condensed milk.
It is one thing to memorize those six coffees, but an entirely different experience to order them once you’re standing in a Spanish café! Here is a guide to the translations and paying for your drinks.
- “Café” roughly translated means “coffee,” but in Spain, it almost always means espresso. They rarely drink drip coffee, and espresso is very strong. If you really cannot manage the strength, ask for it “con agua caliente,” meaning “with hot water.” They might judge you just a little, but at least you will still get to enjoy your café!
- When you see the words “Manchado” or “Manchada,” that means “stained.” Whatever your drink is “manchado” with, there will only be a touch of it. So if you would like more milk than coffee, Leche Manchada (literally meaning “Milk with Coffee”) is a good choice. You can also always say, “con más leche,” or “with more milk,” when you order any drink.
- “Hielo” means “Ice,” so when you want cold coffee, say, “con hielo.”
Now comes the time to pay. Know that 1 Euro is currently equal to $1.22, so your coffee will cost approximately a quarter more to every dollar. When ordering coffee, it is common to round up to the nearest Euro and not take the change. If you stick with the six standard orders, your coffee will rarely cost more than 2 Euros (or $2.44).
In the US, we grab coffee on the go and drink it quickly to recharge. In Spain, people might linger for hours over a Café Corto. When you order coffee Spain style, you set out on a gustatory journey. Sit back and savor the flavor!