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A Complete Guide to Ordering Coffee in Spain

A Complete Guide to Ordering Coffee in Spain

Coffee in Spain is a big deal. A really big deal! And not only that!

Spaniards drink coffee at any time of the day and they socialize around it. You might not find a culture or a nation that gathers over a cup of coffee more than the Spaniards do.

The streets of Spain are full of places where you can get together with your friends and share the most delicious cup of Spanish coffee.

We want you to enjoy the coffee culture in Spain, so we prepared a complete guide to learning how to order coffee in Spain.

How Do They Make Coffee in Spain?

Do you know what the most popular way to prepare coffee in Spain is? It’s espresso

You might already know that espresso is a coffee-making method that originates from Italy, which forces boiling and pressurizing water through finely-ground coffee beans.

Unlike other methods, espresso results in strong and concentrated coffee. This is why Spaniards serve it in small amounts. If you are not used to this amount of bitterness, then think twice before ordering espresso in Spain.

Tourists will often notice that coffees in Spain are more bitter than usual. This is due to a particular way of roasting coffee beans in Spain, which makes the coffee bitter. The process is called torrefacto and it was created with the intention to preserve the coffee.

It consists in adding some sugar to the beans during the roasting process to glaze them, which creates caramelized and shiny beans with a higher amount of antioxidants.

Cup of coffee and coffee grounds
Cup of coffee and coffee grounds

Where Do Spaniards Drink Coffee?

Spaniards drink their coffee both at home and outside. As we mentioned before, it is a nice way to socialize over a cup of coffee in Spain, so friends will get together at any bar during the day or sobremesa.

On the other hand, Spaniards are not fans of drive-thru coffee stands. It’s not very common to find these places anywhere in Spain.

At Home

Spanish coffees are usually prepared at home with a Moka pot. It’s used to brew coffee in a similar way that an espresso maker does. This pot is originally from Italy (where else would it be from!) and it is very popular all over Europe and Latin America.

Also, if they are at home and they don’t have time to make Spanish coffee, then they normally use Nescafé Clásico Dark Roast. This is an instant coffee from Switzerland.

Outside

The most common places where you can get different types of Spanish coffees are restaurants, bars, churrerías, coffee shops, and cafeterías panaderías.

All these places have a similar layout. First, there is a bar where the workers prepare the food and drinks, and where they also serve the customers.

In addition, there is a room with tables and chairs where customers normally wait to be served. Finally, some places also have a terrace, where you can enjoy the beautiful Spanish weather while drinking your favorite cup of Spanish coffee.

People holding cups of coffee
People holding cups of coffee

Restaurants

When Spaniards go to a restaurant, they like to take their time and they usually have a sobremesa. As previously mentioned, the sobremesa is the time to relax and have a conversation around the table after eating. It is also a time for any type of Spanish coffees or even some shots of alcohol.

Bars

Bars in Spain are very common and you can find them on every corner. A large variety of products are served in bars: from food, such as bocatas (sandwiches) or tapas, to drinks, such as alcoholic beverages or coffee from Spain.

Churrerías

In Spain, there are places called churrerías, where their specialty is churros.

Churros are very common fried pastries that normally is eaten with hot chocolate. However, churros with any type of the most popular coffee in Spain are a common mix.

Coffee Shops

What is the best coffee in Spain to order? You can find the answer at the cafeterías (coffee shops). They serve Spanish coffees and other drinks, like soda or juice, and food, such as pastries and sandwiches.

Cafeterías Panaderías

Finally, cafeterías panaderías (literally translated as coffee shops – bakeries) are places where you can get drinks like Spanish coffee, but also pastries, bread, and sandwiches.

Coffee cups on the table
A cup of Spanish coffee

How To Order Coffee in Spain

People in Spain don’t order coffee to go. The common thing to do is to sit down and enjoy a drink at the place.

If you buy coffee in Spain at a bar or restaurant, you won’t get it sweetened. Instead, a waiter will get you a packet of sugar and you will have to add it yourself. However, if you want more sugar, you need to explicitly ask for it.

Below, we crafted some basic vocabulary that will help you when ordering coffee in Spain.

Nouns

SPANISHENGLISH
La cucharilla
Teaspoon
El hielo
Ice
La leche caliente
Hot milk
La leche fría
Cold milk
La leche templada
Lukewarm milk
El sobre de azúcar
Sugar packet
La taza
Cup
El vaso
Glass

Phrases

SPANISHENGLISH
Un café, por favor
A coffee, please
¿Cuánto te debo?
How much do I owe you?
¿Cuánto es?
How much is it?
¿Cuánto cuesta?
How much does it cost?
La cuenta, por favor
The check, please
Me gustaría un café, por favor
I would like a coffee, please
Ir/salir a tomar un café
Go out to get a coffee
¿Me pone/s un café, por favor?
Can you bring me a coffee, please?
¿Me puedes/podrías poner un café, por favor?
Can/could I have a coffee, please?
¿Me trae/s un café, por favor?
Can/could you bring me a coffee, please?
¿Me trae/s la cuenta, por favor?
Could you bring me the check, please?
Quiero/quisiera un café, por favor
I want/would like a coffee, please
¿Qué te debo?
What do I owe you?

What Coffee to Order in Spain

It depends. Are you a fan of a stronger coffee in the morning or do you prefer a sweet coffee from Spain that will make your teeth grind?

If you love this beverage, then you have to learn what the popular Spanish coffees are, as well as how to order coffee in Spain.

Check out the list we crafted below and you will find some of the most common Spanish coffees. Keep reading because we will tell you something about every type!

Café Solo

There are a few types of café solo. However, a café solo is a coffee from Spain made of a shot of espresso served in a small cup or glass. If you like it alone, then you will enjoy this Spanish coffee.

Café solo on a small porcelain plate with a silver spoon
Café solo on a small porcelain plate with a silver spoon

Café con Hielo

A café con hielo is the same coffee from Spain as a café solo, but they serve it with a glass full of ice cubes on the side. Then, you add the coffee into the glass. This type of coffee is ideal in summer when you want to refresh yourself.

Iced coffee in the glass
Iced coffee in the glass

Cortado

If you want to make a cortado, you will need a shot of espresso with a small amount of steamed milk. Serve it in a small cup or glass and, according to some, you will have the best coffee in Spain.

A cortado on a table outside in Badalona center
A cortado on a table outside in Badalona center, Bcn, Spain

Café Americano

Among the different types of coffees in Spain is a café americano. It consists of diluting espresso with hot water. This is your type of Spanish coffee if you don’t like it too strong.

Carajillo

Carajillo is a coffee from Spain made with espresso and some type of liquor. It is normally served in a small glass.

Trifásico

Do you like sweet Spanish coffee? A trifásico might not be the most popular coffee in Spain but it is certainly among them. It’s the same as carajillo, but with a little condensed milk. Yummy, right?

Café con leche

A café con leche consists of espresso and steamed milk served typically half and half proportionally. They serve it in a bigger cup or glass. Also, this one is one of the most common coffees in Spain.

Two cafes con leche on a table in downtown Badalona, Bcn, Spain.
Two cafes con leche on a table in downtown Badalona, Bcn, Spain.

Café Descafeinado

When it comes to ordering coffee in Spain and you decide to go with a café descafeinado, the waiter will usually ask you: de sobre or de máquina?

If you order café descafeinado de sobre (sobre – packet), they will bring you a cup of hot milk with a small package of instant decaffeinated coffee.

However, if you order café descafeinado de máquina (de máquina – from the coffee machine), you will get a machine-brewed decaffeinated Spanish coffee.

Café Bombón

Café bombón is one of the sweetest coffees in Spain. It consists of a shot of espresso with condensed milk usually in a 1:1 ratio. They usually serve it in a small glass.

It’s so sweet that, if you are crazy about sweets and sweetened beverages, this might be your favorite coffee from Spain.

Bombón del Tiempo

 In Valencia Community, it is very common to ask for bombón del tiempo. Contrary to what it may seem or sound like, it’s a regular café bombón served with ice. Also, it is one of the most ordered Spanish coffees.

Café Manchado

In Andalusia, it is quite normal to ask for a café machado (a “stained” coffee). This type of coffee in Spain is very similar to latte macchiato.

It’s called “stained” because it is a glass of milk with a little more than a drop of coffee served in a glass.



Final Thoughts

Are you getting familiar with the coffee vocabulary? Great!

Ordering coffee in Spain can be a bit confusing because Spaniards have their own names for each type of coffee they serve.

It’s not that difficult, you just have to get used to it. It’s a matter of practice, that’s all!

Hopefully, now you are able to understand better how to order coffee in Spain and, the most important thing, which one to order!

In addition, you can now improve even more your coffee-related vocabulary and sound like a real Spaniard. Learn additional phrases and words with our How to Order Coffee Audio & eBook.

However, if you prefer to pit in practice this vocabulary through engaging conversations, let us help you wth our online Spanish conversation classes. Practice and master these expressions firsthand!

So, have you ever had Spanish coffee before? Do you know any other types of coffee from Spain we haven’t mentioned?

Let us know in the comments below!

Till next cup of coffee!


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