Photo by Lee Woolcock
I love coffee, but I'm not sure what to ask for when I go to a café.
On arriving in Spain you could be forgiven for being slightly perplexed by the huge variety of hot beverages on offer, a list that rivals any modern coffee-shop in its varients. Whether you take your coffee, short and strong like any true coffee afficionado or like it less concentrated with milk and sugar you will still need to master the terms in order to get the right cup delivered to your table.
If you are a devout coffee drinker, then the chances are you like it short and strong, your drink of choice should be a café solo (espresso). If that is a little too strong for your tastes and you need a little milk to take the bitter edge off then a café tallat (Catalan) /café cortado (Castilian) is the one for you. This is an espresso but with a little hot milk added. Coffee here is quite bitter and if you are used to the large latte type drinks then you are most likely to want to order a café amb llet/café con leche which is about 50 percent coffee to 50 percent hot milk. If you are looking for a higher coffee to milk ratio then be sure to ask for a grande or doble; or if you want less coffee, then the term you need is corto de café. Another popular sight on the drinks menu is a carajillo, this is for a serious pick-me-up as it’s an espresso of coffee and a shot of either brandy or rum.
In the hot months of summer sometimes the thought of a hot milky drink isn’t too appealing and a popular alternative is to ask for a café solo over ice, this is called café amb gel/café con hielo and normally arrives as a normal espresso with a seperate glass of ice which you pore the coffee over and is a refreshing alternative to a hot drink. If coffee isn’t your drink at all then most places now have a large variety of infusiones (herbal teas) on offer.