There are many different types of coffee in Spain, but it does not have quite the almost iconic status that it has in Italy. Many Spaniards complain (without good reason!) of the quality of their coffee, even though they belong to one of the top 20 countries that drink the most coffee per capita.
If you order “un café por favor“, then you will get a question back what kind of coffee you want.
For those who cannot be without Swedish-American-English (brewed) coffee, the best tip is to order a café americano. This is an espresso that is “stretched” with hot water in a larger coffee cup and is what is most similar to a brewed filter coffee.
So when you get the question of what kind of coffee you want then it is wise to be fast, the one behind the counter is in a hurry because there is a queue of others who are also impatiently waiting to order their coffee.
Here is a short cheat-sheet of the most common types of coffee.
Café solo – is an espresso coffee and is usually served in a cup. This delicious cafe solo is made by the waiter in front of you when you ask for it.
Café cortado – A cortado is the same amount of coffee as the café solo with a small dash of milk added to reduce the acidity of the coffee. It can be served in a cup or in a glass.
Café con leche – Coffee with milk. You can choose which kind milk you want (cold, hot, with foam, low-fat milk, etc.). It is usually served in a cup larger than the cafe solo one.
Café largo – This is one dose of espresso coffee but where they let some more water flow through the coffee (or add a little), in a larger cup. So it’s a softer, slightly diluted version of a café solo.
Leche manchada – This is a cup of milk with some coffee added.
Café americano – A cup larger than that for café largo and with even more (hot) water added. It is a coffee that many students drink.
Café con hielo – A very common way to take coffee in the summer. It’s an espresso (ie café solo), but you get a glass of ice cubes on the side. The customer then pours the hot coffee into the glass with ice.
Café descafeinado – Decaffeinated coffee.
Join us on a wine tour in Spain and you will get plenty of opportunities to practice your Spanish coffee skills!