Coffee culture

Coffee in Spain: How To Order A Cup Like The Local4 min read

12 July, 2019


Coffee in Spain: How To Order A Cup Like The Local4 min read

The first time of ordering in a Spanish coffee shop will probably confuse you. This country has its specific vernacular for ordering coffee, which might be unfamiliar to foreigners, even those who are coffee-lovers. Below are some special types of coffees you are about to see in Spain, and some advice on how to order a java cup like the locals do it!

General Terms of Coffee Types


Don’t get yourself confused when seeing a Spanish coffee menu. Learn some of the following general terms and you are more than prepped for the first coffee order in Spain!

Café Solo: A small cup of black coffee served in a small glass without anything else. Café Solo is the most common coffee drink ordered in this country, it is also somewhat similar to the famous espresso. Yet the difference comes from the coffee beans used to make the coffee, known as Torrefacto. We will come back and discuss in more details about this coffee bean later in this post.

Café Con Leche: This is the second popular coffee after Café Solo. It is a small glass or a tall thin glass with half café solo and half hot milk. You should try this cup in a Spanish traditional bar, whose baristas have a unique way of making this coffee type. They pour the milk into a metal jug and noisily froth the milk and heat it up by using an espresso machine, and in the end, the result is an extremely hot and tasty Café Con Leche.

Café Americano: Well, it is just a larger cup of Café Solo with more water to make it less strong.

Café Bombon: This Spanish java is a variant on Café Con Leche. The difference here is they use condensed milk instead of hot milk to make this coffee. This method results in sweeter flavor and richer texture.

Café Cortado: Another take on strong black coffee which is similar to Café Solo, but with a drop of milk.

Café Con Hielo: The Spanish will serve you a cup of coffee and a glass of ice if you order Café Con Hielo. This is actually the Spanish version of “cold coffee”.

Café Sombra (Café Manchado): It is basically s cup of milk with a few drops of coffee.

Café Carajillo – the famous Spanish coffee. It is a cup of java with a small measure of alcohol, usually rum or whiskey, and whipped cream on top. 

Torrefacto – The major point that makes different

Let’s talk a bit more about “Torrefacto” – a coffee-roasting method that adds sugar to coffee before roasting. Theoretically, the addition of sugar enables roasters to produce the same amount of coffee with fewer beans, yet leads to changes in its taste. The result is a cup of java that’s very dark and very bitter. The complex aromas and flavors of quality coffee are all, but lost.

Our advice for coffee-lovers is to stay mindful while ordering, because most of coffee products in Spain contain a mix of natural and torrefacto beans.

The Coffee Timetable in Spain


The last question is: Which is the most suitable time to order coffee in Spain? Well, anytime is fine, but let’s take a look at the daily coffee cycle if you want to drink like a local:

  • Desayuno (breakfast): 8 am
  • Almuerzo (brunch): 11 am
  • Comida (lunch): 2 pm
  • Merienda (afternoon snack): 6 pm
  • Cena (dinner, supper): 10 pm

Name and time may change in some areas, but the Spanish usually drink coffee after meals. And you may not have noticed, but the first cup of coffee in Spain is usually Café Con Leche!

You may also get knowledge about coffee culture in some other continents such as Africa and Asia through Ethiopia and Hanoi of Vietnam respectively here.

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