Spanish Coffee Ever Wondered What To Ask For?

by Thomas Harper

Café con leche: A mixture of coffee and steamed milk – usually in a 50/50 to 25/75 proportion – served in a “large” (albeit laughably small by US standards) cup or glass. Most Spaniards drink this for breakfast. The bartender may ask if you prefer the milk caliente (hot) or templada (warm).

Café cortado: Coffee that is “cut” with a dash of steamed milk and served in a small cup. This is usually ordered after lunch or dinner.

Café solo: A shot of coffee without milk; served in a tiny cup. This is usually ordered after lunch or dinner.

Café manchado: A cup of steamed milk “spotted” with a few drops of coffee.

Carajillo: Black coffee spiked with brandy or anís (i.e., a Sambuca-like liquor). Wildly popular with older men.

Café Americano: Coffee diluted with extra water, and served with or without steamed milk. How embarrassing it is to even mention this!

Descafeinado: Decaffeinated coffee. You can request that any of the above choices be made descafeinado. Be sure, however, specify descafeinado de máquina (decaf from the machine). Otherwise, you’ll risk being served a cup of steamed milk and an envelope of instant decaf coffee.


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