10 WAYS TO ORDER A COFFEE IN SPANISH
It might not come as a surprise to you that Spanish love their coffee, and pretty much in every bar you’ll go you’ll find groups of Spaniards enjoying their cups of coffee. However, ordering a coffee in Spain can be a bit tricky as it is rare that you’ll come up the bar and simply say “un café, por favor”, since there are a lot of ways to order coffee in Spain.
Forget cappuccinos, lattes and flat whites and get ready to enjoy the huge variety of coffee in Spain. Whether you like it black, with milk, iced or even with alcohol, we’ve got you covered with this guide on 10 ways to order a coffee in Spain.
1. Café con Leche
Simply put, it is coffee with milk. Probably this is the closest equivalent to a latte you will find in Spain, although the Spanish way is stronger, and it is served with equal parts of espresso and milk. This type of coffee is one of the staples in a traditional Spanish breakfast, so it is a must-try during your time in Spain.
2. Café Solo
Café solo is what Spanish people call a shot of espresso, nothing fancy but very effective at keeping you awake. It is typically very strong, so be prepared. If you want to act like a local, you might want to order a café solo after enjoying a menu of the day for lunch.
Literally translated “cortado” means a short one, and it can be described as a café solo topped with frothy hot milk. Commonly known as an espresso machiatto for coffee lovers. Depending on the region you are in, a cortado can have different names. For example, in some regions a cortado is called “manchado” (coffee stained with milk). Whereas in other regions, if you order a café manchado you will get exactly the opposite, a glass of milk with a splash of coffee. Be careful!
4. Café con Hielo
Also known as “café del tiempo”. This type of coffee is a summertime favorite across the country and it is simply coffee with ice. When ordering a café con hielo, the barista will give you two glasses: one with hot coffee and another with ice cubes. Now it’s when the fun starts, good luck pouring your hot drink in the glass with ice without spilling any! If you do it, you can be considered as a Spanish coffee expert!
5. Café Americano
If the intensity of a café solo puts you off, you can always order a café americano. It contains the same amount of caffeine as a café solo but it’s diluted with more water, so the flavor is less strong. It is not a very popular type of coffee among Spanish people as it can be considered as “dirty water”, but of course you can still enjoy it!
6. Café Bombón
If you have a sweet tooth, this is the right coffee for you. This Spanish specialty is a shot of espresso with sweetened condensed milk in a 1:1 ratio. Café bombón was made famous in Valencia and then spread gradually across the country. To make a café bombón, the barista will use a clear glass where they will add the espresso and then the condensed milk, creating two separated bands of contrasting color. Then, you only have to mix them together and enjoy this caffeinated treat.
7. Leche Manchada
You can think of this drink as more of a coffee-flavored drink rather than a proper coffee. It can be translated as “stained milk” and it consists of a hot cup of milk with a few drops of coffee to give it a bit of a coffee aftertaste. Perfect for those who are not heavy coffee drinkers but like the subtle flavor of it.
Want some alcohol in your coffee? A carajillo might sound weird for a lot of people, but it’s fairly popular among Spaniards. This drink is espresso served with rum, whisky, or brandy, depending on the customer preference. Don’t be shy and give this alcoholic drink a shot!
9. Café Belmonte
The Mediterranean has a lot of perks, and one of them is this type of coffee. It is a mix of a café bombón with a shot of brandy. Therefore, if you are looking for a sweet alcoholic kick, this is your chance.
The coffee tradition is not only limited to the daylight, and decaffeinated coffees are very popular in Spain. Some bars will only have it in instant for (“de sobre”) but you might be lucky and get to enjoy a freshly ground coffee from the machine (“de máquina”). Decide how you want your decaffeinated coffee to be served and enjoy a lovely cup of your favorite type of coffee at night.
Other Coffee Vocabulary
As in many places, there is a very strong coffee culture in Spain. Depending on the region, the names might differ, but don’t be afraid to ask the barista. However, knowing the different types of coffees might not be enough to order the right coffee, it is also important to know few other words to help you order at the bar.
• Taza: mug with a handle
• Vaso: clear glass typically smaller than a mug
• Caliente: hot (milk)
• Templada: mild (mix of hot and cold milk)
• Fría: cold (milk)
• Para llevar: to take away
• En la barra: at the bar
• En la terraza: at the terrace
• Dentro: inside the bar
• Azúcar: sugar
• Sacarina: sweetener
If you liked these 10 ways to order a coffee in Spain, download our free PDF cheat sheet on these 10 coffee types and more. Plus, we’ve added common Spanish phrases you’ll need for your next cafe order, like:
I would like to have a espresso
Do you have any sugar/sweetener?
With hot/mild/cold milk
What would you like to have?
What type of coffee would you like to have?
and more …