Do you know how to order coffee in Spain? All coffee in Spain is not created equal! With many different combinations of coffee with milk and sweeteners, it can all be very confusing. Let’s go through the various options for to order the right coffee for you.
Ordering coffee at Starbucks or any other international type chain is pretty much the same. You may order exactly what you want and get crazy with the long list of instructions for that tall, low-fat, decaf, latte with cinnamon and a dash of whipped cream. Phew, it can just get so complicated, but you are getting exactly what you asked for (usually). Well, when in Spain you can do the same at those chain coffee shops, but why? You can get a wonderful cup of coffee at any of the local cafes or coffee shops in just about any town. They may give you a funny look if you try to get too complicated. Most places in Spain will know a standard set of variations of coffee, milk & sweeteners.
How to order coffee in Spain
Let’s go through the various ways to order coffee in Spain from the strongest to the sweetest. We have the Spanish coffee name and in parentheses we have the Italian or common chain coffee term.
Café solo (espresso)
Café solo is what the Spanish call a shot of espresso, which is the standard form of coffee across the country. It is typically very strong, so be prepared.
Café Americano (black coffee)
The café Americano is pretty much the Café solo with additional hot water, to tame it a bit. This would be your basic black coffee.
Café Cortado (cappuccino)
The café cortado is an espresso with a splash of milk or just foam. This is likely the most similar to a cappuccino.
Café con leche (latte)
Café con leche in an espresso with milk (about equal parts of milk) is called café con leche. This is the most popular form of coffee drink served in Spain and is pretty much the same as a cafe latte.
Café Leche Manchada
Ordering a leche manchada (or just say manchada) will result in a coffee that contains very little coffee, and a lot of milk. Think of this drink as more of a coffee-flavored milk drink rather than a “proper” cup of coffee. This drink is not very common, but it is more popular in the south.
Café bombón was made popular in Valencia, Spain, and spread gradually throughout the country. This is a sweet, knock your socks off coffee. A café bombón uses espresso served with sweetened condensed milk in a 1:1 ratio. To create a café bombón ( also known as bombon coffee), the condensed milk is added to the espresso in a clear glass, for the added visual effect of the layers. The condensed milk is added slowly, to sink underneath the coffee and create two separate bands of contrasting colour.. It is up the customer to stir it before drinking. Some establishments merely serve an espresso with a sachet of condensed milk for customers to add themselves.
Café bombón Recipe
- 1/2 espresso
- 1/2 condensed milk (sweetened)
In a clear glass, add your hot espresso. Slowly add an equal amount of condensed milk to the espresso. Watch it slowly sink to the bottom and create the beautiful layers. Mix together before drinking.
Café con hielo
If a hot drink isn’t what you are looking for, any of the coffees can be served over ice. Café con hielo is basically a coffee with ice. You can really order any of the above coffee combinations and just ask for a glass of ice on the side (vaso con hielo).
If you’re not interested in consuming caffeine, but want a drink with the flavor of coffee, order a café descafeinado, which simply means decaffeinated coffee.
Want a little alcohol in your coffee?
Do you want that after dinner coffee or something with a little more kick to it? Order a café Irlandés, which is an Irish coffee. Obviously this is not a traditional Spanish drink, but it is an alcoholic treat made of espresso served with a shot of whiskey or Baileys Irish Cream and possibly topped with whipped cream.
If whiskey isn’t your thing, but you like vodka, try a café Russo (Russian coffee). This is espresso served with a shot of vodka.
A café carajillo also contains alcohol and can be made with either brandy, whisky, anisette, or rum. Make sure you specify which alcohol you want when you order or ask the café which they recommend. You can often order these at the local ice cream shop too!
Here is a great image from Devour Madrid Tours, see what they have to offer here:
Make Coffee At Home!
It is really inexpensive to order coffee out in Spain, but if you just want to make it at home you can. Of course there are all of the instant versions at the local supermarket, but you can also get creative with your own espresso machine. There are many for you to choose from on Amazon Spain. Click here for full list of espresso machines and coffee makers. If you already own a machine like a Nespresso, Tassimo or something that takes the coffee pods, you can coffee pods order refill coffee pods online too.