Coffee in Spain: more than a morning routine

Drinking coffee in Spain is so much a part of daily life that most Spaniards do it almost unconsciously. And coffee reaches well beyond the first groggy hour of the morning – it is just as welcome before breakfast as it is after dinner (and anytime in between). In short, don’t be afraid to ask for descafeinado (decaf!).

Getting your daily perks…Spanish style

The Spanish are known for many things – good wine, flamenco, paella, passion…but they are not known for eating a hearty, balanced breakfast. In fact, the typical breakfast in Spain is a strong, black shot of espresso. Nothing more. Later, around 10 or 11 am, local bars and cafes fill for “the second breakfast”, which is another coffee, but this time taken with milk and accompanied by fresh bakery or filling bocadillos (simple sandwiches served on a baguette).

A third coffee will typically follow lunch, a fourth may be taken as an afternoon pick-me-up, and – in true Spanish style – another will follow dinner, to clear the mind for the wine and drinks to follow. The Spanish are not likely to spend long amounts of time savoring a fine brew, or chatting with a friend over a steaming mug, but coffee still plays an important – and frequent – role in everyday life.

bar cafetera

Con leche or cortado?

Many visitors to Spain are surprised upon ordering their first cup of coffee, when they are served a thimble-sized cup of something thick, black, and extremely bitter. Be aware: ordering a simple café in Spain will get you a shot of espresso. Those craving something a bit bigger and less electrifying should ask for a café americano (espresso diluted with hot water) or a café con leche (espresso with steamed milk). Once you’ve developed a tolerance, you may want to try a cortado (espresso with just a bit of milk). Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? These are just the basics.

True coffee enthusiasts may want to try an espresso corto (extra strong!) or largo  (a bit diluted, but not as much as an americano). Then there are the after dinner coffees. The most popular is a carajillo, which is a shot of espresso mixed with a shot of your choice – typically brandy. Or, for those who want to impress the waiter with their local savvy, order a trifasico. It’s an impressively layered glass of espresso, steamed milk, and liquor (delicious with Baileys). And remember, in Spain, it is perfectly acceptable to order an “after dinner coffee” at any time of day!

cafes diferentes

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An authentic Spanish tour

Wherever your group tours in Spain, they will love getting a taste of real Spanish coffee culture. We take care when planning our tours to offer experiences that are culturally authentic, down to the smallest details. Get in touch today to start planning your group’s unique adventure!

Katharina Giesler

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