It’s A Complicated World; The Guide To Ordering A Coffee In Spain

Spanish coffee types

And you thought Starbucks was complicated. Credit: Memrise/X

Navigating the world of ordering coffee in Spain can be as intricate as deciphering a treasure map.

Picture yourself stepping into a charming Spanish café, where the most beloved coffee-making machine is none other than the trusty Espresso machine.

These contraptions are as common as sunshine in Spain, and behind them, you’ll find the coffee virtuosos – the baristas, or your local bar owner – conjuring your coffee magic.

Now, the adventure begins with the Café solo, which is coffee’s ground zero in Spain.

A cafe solo
This coffee certainly packs a punch. Credit: master1305/Freepik

It”s actually an Espresso, but don’t fret; they’ll still understand you if you say that. Yet, the locals lovingly refer to it as Café solo.

But hold on, your coffee journey doesn’t stop there. It’s about the extras.

You’ll probably get a cinnamon biscuit and a sachet of sugar. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll have to ask for more ‘azúcar’ (azoocar).

For the black coffee aficionados:

Café Americano is when a “café solo” packs too much punch, call in an Americano – it’s like a solo, but with more water, a solo’s milder cousin.

Café con hielo (pronounced hyellow and simply translated to iced coffee). In the sweltering Spanish summers, ice cubes make you sweat less.

You’ll get two cups – one brimming with Café solo, the other loaded with ice cubes. Sweeten your coffee, blend it with the ice, or mix things up; it’s your coffee canvas.

Cafe con hielo or coffee with ice
Iced coffee is a refreshing summer drink. Credit: Freepik

For the daring:

Carajillo (Carahi-o): A Café solo with a spirited twist – usually rum, whiskey, or brandy. Handle with care; it’s got a kick!

Actually, you can usually taste more alcohol than coffee.

For those who crave the milky touch:

Café Cortado: Think of it as Café solo with a splash of milk.

Café con Leche: A harmonious blend of coffee and milk, a 50/50 balance.

Manchado (Leche Manchada): Warm milk with just a hint of coffee, like really weak coffee.

Café bombón: Sweetened condensed milk steps in for regular milk – a sugary spin on your brew. No need for sugar here.

A cafe bombon
Ultra sickly if you accidentally add sugar is the bombon. Credit: Daniel Lobo/Wikipedia

And for the dedicated to decaffeinated:

Descafeinado: Not all cafés offer decaf, but when they do, make sure it’s the machine-brewed kind, not the instant version.

But wait, there’s more! You can choose milk temperature: cold (frio), hot (caliente), or a combo of both (templada).

Size matters too – Café corto for a short and potent shot or Café largo for a more diluted affair.

Feeling adventurous? How about ordering a “Carajillo descafeinado” – the boozy kick without the caffeine?

Or if you want to baffle your host, try a “Cortado descafeinado corto de café, con leche templada descremada” – a decaffeinated cortado served concentrated in a small cup, with a dash of mixed hot/cold skimmed milk.

Your coffee escapades are limited only by your imagination, so go forth and order!

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by

Jo Pugh

Jo Pugh is a journalist based in the Costa Blanca North. Originally from London, she has been involved in journalism and photography for 20 years. She has lived in Spain for 12 years, and is a dedicated and passionate writer.


    • Naimah Yianni

      04 September 2023 • 14:55

      It´s not really difficult though is it? If you want black ask for cafe solo, if you want white, ask for cafe con leche. If you want a skinny vanilla late with marshmallows go back to England and waste your money in Starbucks

    Comments are closed.