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Drinking Coffee in Spain


We are in Spain this month for some language study and to escape the gray skies of North America. That accounts for the recent lack of posts as we’ve made our way here and sorted out our day to day routine. The blue skies and sunshine have softened the transition and we are now eager to explore the coffee customs of this coffee drinking nation.

When it comes to coffee, Spain has a rich and vibrant coffee culture that is deeply ingrained in its social fabric. The Spanish love their coffee and enjoy it throughout the day, from the early morning hours to late in the evening. Coffee is not just a beverage in Spain, but a way of life, a social ritual, and a daily necessity.

3 yellow espresso cups on wooden table

One of the most popular ways to enjoy coffee in Spain is by ordering a café con leche, which is a combination of strong coffee and hot milk. This creamy and indulgent beverage is typically served in a small glass and is a staple of the Spanish breakfast routine. It is said that the best café con leche can be found in the small, family-owned cafes and traditional Spanish coffee bars, where the baristas take pride in their craft and use only the finest coffee beans.

In addition to café con leche, Spaniards also enjoy a variety of other coffee options, including cortado, which is espresso with a small amount of steamed milk, and café solo, which is a strong black coffee served in a small cup. For those with a sweet tooth, the café bombón is a popular choice, made with equal parts espresso and sweetened condensed milk, creating a decadent and sugary treat.

What sets the Spanish coffee culture apart from other countries is the way it is enjoyed as a social activity. In Spain, it is customary to meet friends and family at a local café, where they can savor their coffee slowly and engage in lively conversations. It is not uncommon to see groups of people lingering at cafes for hours, enjoying their coffee and soaking in the vibrant atmosphere.

Furthermore, coffee is not just confined to the morning hours in Spain. Many Spaniards enjoy a mid-morning coffee break, known as the elevenses, and an afternoon pick-me-up, known as the merienda. In fact, it is not uncommon for Spaniards to enjoy a cup of coffee after their evening meal, as a way to prolong their dining experience and continue their social interactions.

In conclusion, drinking coffee in Spain is not just about the beverage itself, but about the experience and the social connections it fosters. Whether it’s a quick espresso at the bar or a leisurely café con leche with friends, coffee holds a special place in Spanish culture, and is a cherished part of daily life. So, the next time you find yourself in Spain, be sure to embrace the coffee culture and savor every sip of this beloved beverage.

Coffee Drinking Culture in Spain

When it comes to coffee culture, Spain has a unique and passionate approach that sets it apart from other countries. Spaniards love their coffee and the ritual of enjoying a cup is deeply ingrained in their daily lives. Whether it’s a quick shot of espresso at the bar or a leisurely café con leche at a bustling café, coffee is a central part of the Spanish social experience.

One of the most iconic aspects of Spanish coffee culture is the tradition of the “café con leche.” This simple but delicious drink consists of equal parts espresso and steamed milk, and is enjoyed at any time of the day. It’s a popular choice for breakfast, but can also be savored as an afternoon pick-me-up or even after a meal. The café con leche is often accompanied by a pastry or a small snack, making it a social occasion rather than just a caffeine fix.

Another key element of Spanish coffee culture is the concept of “sobremesa,” which refers to the leisurely time spent chatting and relaxing at the table after a meal. It’s during this time that coffee plays a crucial role, with many Spaniards opting for a strong espresso to cap off their dining experience. This extended socializing over coffee is a cherished tradition that fosters connection and camaraderie among friends and family.

In Spain, the act of drinking coffee is not just about the beverage itself, but also about the environment in which it’s consumed. Coffee bars, or “cafeterías,” are an integral part of Spanish coffee culture and serve as social hubs where people gather to catch up, discuss current events, or simply people-watch. The lively atmosphere and convivial spirit of these establishments add to the overall coffee experience, making it more than just a simple drink.

The Spanish also take their coffee very seriously and have a strong preference for quality over quantity. While they may not consume as much coffee as their European counterparts, they are very particular about the preparation and taste of their coffee. Baristas are highly skilled and take pride in serving up the perfect cup of coffee, whether it’s a creamy café cortado or a strong and bold café solo.

In conclusion, Spanish coffee culture is a rich and vibrant tradition that revolves around the enjoyment of good coffee in a social setting. From the beloved café con leche to the lively atmosphere of café bars, coffee plays a significant role in the daily lives of Spaniards. This dedication to the art of coffee consumption makes Spain a truly unique and special destination for any coffee lover.

Brief history of coffee in Spain

Coffee has been an integral part of Spanish culture for centuries, shaping the way people socialize and enjoy their daily routines. The history of coffee in Spain can be traced back to the early 17th century, when it was first introduced to the country by merchants and travelers returning from the Middle East.

The port city of Málaga played a key role in the introduction of coffee to Spain, as it became a hub for trade with North Africa and the Arab world. Coffee houses, known as “cafes,” quickly sprang up in major cities like Madrid and Seville, becoming popular meeting places for intellectuals, businessmen, and artists.

By the 18th century, coffee had firmly established itself as a staple in Spanish society, with the establishment of the first coffee plantation in the Canary Islands. The Spanish people embraced the beverage, and it became an integral part of their daily lives.

The 20th century saw a surge in the popularity of coffee in Spain, with the rise of modern coffeehouses known as “cafeterias.” These establishments became a focal point for socializing, with people gathering to enjoy a cup of coffee and engage in lively conversation.

Today, Spain has a thriving coffee culture, with a strong tradition of serving espresso-based drinks such as café con leche and cortado. Spanish coffee is known for its bold flavor and strong aroma, reflecting the country’s rich history with the beverage.

In recent years, Spain has also seen a growing interest in specialty coffee, with independent cafes and roasteries popping up in major cities. This trend has brought a new level of appreciation for high-quality coffee, as well as a desire to explore different brewing methods and flavor profiles.

The history of coffee in Spain is a testament to the enduring appeal of this beloved beverage. From its humble beginnings in the 17th century to its current status as a thriving part of Spanish culture, coffee continues to play a significant role in the daily lives of the Spanish people.

Torrefacto Roasting

Torrefacto coffee roasting is a unique method of roasting coffee beans that originated in Spain. The process involves adding a certain amount of sugar to the coffee beans during the roasting process, which caramelizes and coats the beans with a shiny, dark layer. This gives torrefacto coffee its distinct bitter-sweet flavor and particularly strong aroma.

The addition of sugar during the roasting process has both critics and proponents. Some argue that it enhances the flavor and aroma of the coffee, as well as its shelf life. Others, however, argue that it masks the natural flavors of the coffee beans and can give the coffee a burnt taste if not done properly.

In Spain, torrefacto coffee has been popular for decades and is often mixed with regular coffee to create a stronger brew. It is also commonly used in espresso blends, giving the coffee a rich and bold flavor profile.

While torrefacto coffee roasting is not widely practiced outside of Spain, some coffee enthusiasts have taken an interest in this method and have started experimenting with it in their own roasting techniques. It has gained a niche following among those who appreciate its unique taste and aroma.

Overall, torrefacto coffee roasting is a traditional and somewhat controversial method that produces a distinct type of coffee with a strong, bitter-sweet flavor. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that torrefacto coffee is an interesting and unique addition to the world of coffee roasting.

Most Popular Types of Spanish Coffee

When it comes to coffee, Spain has a unique and rich culture of coffee drinking that has given rise to a variety of popular types of Spanish coffee. From the strong and robust flavors of espresso to the sweet and creamy delights of café con leche, there is something for every coffee lover to enjoy in Spain.

One of the most popular types of Spanish coffee is the cortado. This is a small but powerful drink that consists of equal parts espresso and steamed milk. It is the perfect choice for those who want a strong and concentrated coffee flavor, but with a touch of creaminess to balance it out.

Another beloved Spanish coffee is the café con leche, which translates to “coffee with milk.” This beverage is made by combining equal parts of espresso and steamed milk, resulting in a smooth and creamy concoction that is often enjoyed at breakfast or during a mid-morning break.

For those who prefer their coffee with a sweet touch, the café bombón is a popular choice. This indulgent drink is made by pouring condensed milk into a glass, followed by a shot of espresso. The result is a rich and sweet coffee that is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Of course, no discussion of Spanish coffee would be complete without mentioning the classic café solo. This is a simple but strong espresso that is enjoyed by many throughout Spain. It is the go-to choice for those who want a quick and powerful caffeine boost without any added milk or sugar.

In addition to these popular types of Spanish coffee, there are also regional variations and specialty drinks that can be found throughout the country. Whether you prefer your coffee strong and black or sweet and creamy, there is a Spanish coffee drink that is sure to delight your taste buds. So, the next time you find yourself in Spain, be sure to explore the diverse and flavorful world of Spanish coffee.


Espresso is a popular and concentrated coffee beverage with a rich and bold flavor. It is made by extracting a small amount of intense, concentrated coffee using high pressure and finely ground coffee beans. The result is a shot of espresso that is enjoyed by coffee lovers around the world.

One of the key characteristics of espresso is its strong and intense flavor. Because of the high pressure extraction process, the flavors and aromas of the coffee beans are fully released, creating a robust and full-bodied taste. The crema, a thin layer of golden foam that sits atop the espresso, adds a smooth and creamy element to the overall flavor profile.

Espresso can be enjoyed on its own as a quick and energizing shot of caffeine, or it can be used as a base for many other popular coffee beverages, such as lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos. Its versatility makes it a favorite for both coffee purists and those who enjoy experimenting with different flavor combinations.

In addition to its taste, espresso is also known for its caffeine content. Due to its concentrated nature, a shot of espresso typically contains more caffeine than a regular cup of coffee. This makes it a go-to choice for those looking for a quick and potent energy boost.

Espresso is typically served in small, demitasse cups, allowing the drinker to savor its intense flavors and aromas. In many coffee cultures, drinking espresso is a social and pleasurable experience, often enjoyed with friends or as a midday pick-me-up.

Overall, espresso is a beloved coffee beverage that offers a bold and intense flavor experience. Whether enjoyed on its own or as the base for other delicious coffee concoctions, its rich taste and energizing properties make it a favorite among coffee enthusiasts.

Café solo

Café solo, also known as “black coffee,” is a popular coffee drink that originated in Spain. This strong and bold beverage is made by simply brewing a shot of espresso using finely ground coffee beans and hot water.

Café solo is typically served in a small cup and is enjoyed without any added milk or sugar. Its intense and concentrated flavor is perfect for those who prefer a more robust and full-bodied coffee experience.

This traditional Spanish coffee has become a staple in many coffee houses and cafes around the world, loved by coffee enthusiasts who appreciate the pure and unadulterated taste of a well-made espresso.

Café solo is not only delicious on its own, but it can also be used as a base for a variety of other coffee drinks, such as cortado or Americano. Its versatility and strong flavor make it a popular choice for those looking for a quick and potent pick-me-up.

If you’re a fan of strong coffee with a bold and robust flavor, give café solo a try. You might just find yourself falling in love with this classic Spanish beverage.

Café Americano

Café Americano, also known simply as Americano, is a popular coffee drink that has a long and interesting history. This beverage is made by diluting a shot of espresso with hot water, giving it a similar strength and flavor to traditional American-style brewed coffee.

The origins of the Americano date back to World War II, when American soldiers stationed in Italy found the local espresso to be too strong for their tastes. In an effort to create a milder and more familiar beverage, they began diluting their espresso with hot water, giving birth to the Café Americano as we know it today.

The Café Americano has since become a staple in coffee shops and cafes around the world. It is enjoyed for its smooth and mellow flavor, as well as its versatility – it can be enjoyed black or with added milk and sweeteners to suit individual preferences.

One of the key features of the Americano is its strength. While it is similar in flavor to brewed coffee, it contains a higher concentration of caffeine due to the espresso base. This makes it the perfect choice for those who need an extra kick to start their day or to power through an afternoon slump.

Whether enjoyed as a morning pick-me-up or a midday treat, the Café Americano is a timeless classic that continues to be loved by coffee enthusiasts everywhere. Its rich history, bold flavor, and strong caffeine content make it a beloved favorite for those seeking a balanced and satisfying coffee experience.

Café cortado

Café cortado, also known as a cortado, is a popular coffee drink that originated in Spain and is now enjoyed in many parts of the world. This delicious beverage is made by combining equal parts of espresso and steamed milk, resulting in a creamy and flavorful coffee experience.

The name “cortado” comes from the Spanish word “cortar,” which means “to cut,” referring to the way the espresso is “cut” by the steamed milk. The result is a balanced and smooth drink that highlights the richness of the espresso while still providing the creamy texture of the milk.

One of the key elements of a perfect café cortado is the quality of the coffee beans used. The espresso should be rich and full-bodied, with a smooth and complex flavor profile. The steamed milk should be carefully frothed to the perfect texture, creating a velvety and creamy finish. When combined, these two elements result in a drink that is satisfying and luxurious.

Café cortado is a versatile drink that can be enjoyed at any time of day. Its strong espresso base provides a jolt of caffeine, making it a great choice for a morning pick-me-up. The addition of steamed milk also makes it a great option for those who prefer their coffee on the milder side. Whether enjoyed on its own or paired with a sweet treat, the café cortado is a delightful drink that is sure to please any coffee lover.

In conclusion, café cortado is a delicious and satisfying coffee drink that brings together the richness of espresso with the creaminess of steamed milk. Its balanced and smooth flavor profile makes it a popular choice for coffee enthusiasts around the world. Whether enjoyed on its own or as part of a meal, the café cortado is a delightful and versatile beverage that is sure to please any coffee lover.

Café Bombón

Café Bombón is a traditional Spanish coffee drink that has been gaining popularity in recent years. This delicious and indulgent beverage is made by layering equal parts of sweetened condensed milk and strong espresso coffee in a glass, creating a visually striking two-tone effect.

The origins of Café Bombón can be traced back to Valencia, Spain, where it has been enjoyed for decades as a popular after-dinner drink. The combination of rich, velvety condensed milk with the bold, intense flavor of espresso creates a perfectly balanced and luxurious coffee experience.

To make Café Bombón, the first step is to heat the sweetened condensed milk until it becomes creamy and smooth. This ensures that it will blend seamlessly with the espresso and create a harmonious flavor profile. Then, the espresso is carefully poured over the condensed milk, allowing the two layers to form distinct bands of color in the glass.

The result is a decadent and velvety coffee drink that is both sweet and strong, making it a delightful treat for anyone with a sweet tooth. The contrast between the creamy condensed milk and the robust espresso creates a truly indulgent taste sensation that is sure to please even the most discerning coffee lovers.

Café Bombón is often served in small, clear glasses to showcase its beautiful layers, and it is usually enjoyed slowly to savor every sip. Some variations of the drink include adding a sprinkle of cinnamon or a splash of liqueur for an extra touch of flavor.

Whether you’re in Spain or just looking to add a touch of indulgence to your coffee routine, Café Bombón is a delightful beverage that is sure to impress. Its rich and creamy flavor, combined with the boldness of espresso, makes it a perfect choice for those seeking a truly indulgent coffee experience.

Café con leche

Café con leche, also known as “coffee with milk”, is a popular beverage in many Spanish-speaking countries. It consists of equal parts strong brewed coffee and steamed milk, resulting in a creamy and slightly sweet drink that is a favorite among coffee enthusiasts.

The preparation of café con leche varies from region to region, with some preferring a lighter roast for the coffee and others opting for a darker, more robust flavor. The milk used can also vary, with some people using whole milk for a rich and creamy taste, while others prefer the lighter texture of skim or almond milk.

In Spain, café con leche is typically enjoyed first thing in the morning as part of a traditional breakfast, often accompanied by a pastry or toast. It is also a popular choice for an afternoon pick-me-up, providing a dose of caffeine and a comforting milkiness that is both energizing and soothing.

In Latin America, café con leche is a staple in many households and is enjoyed throughout the day. It is often served alongside a hearty meal or as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon treat. The strong coffee flavor combined with the creamy milk creates a well-balanced and indulgent beverage that is perfect for any time of day.

Café con leche can be customized to suit individual tastes, with some people adding sugar or a sprinkle of cinnamon for a touch of sweetness, while others might prefer a stronger coffee flavor without any extra additions. No matter how it is enjoyed, café con leche is a beloved beverage that brings comfort and warmth to those who savor it.

Alternative Milk Orders

Alternative milk options are a way for people to request a specific type or amount of milk that is not typically available at their local grocery store. These can be made for a variety of reasons, such as dietary restrictions, preferences, or specific cooking or baking needs.

Many grocery stores offer alternative milk options as a way to accommodate the diverse needs of their customers. Whether it’s lactose-free, organic, almond, soy, or goat milk, customers can place an order for the specific type of milk they require. This is especially important for individuals with dietary restrictions or food allergies, as they may not be able to find their preferred milk alternative on the store shelves.

In addition to alternative milk options, special orders can also be made for specific quantities of milk. Whether it’s a bulk order for a big event or a small order for a particular recipe, customers can request the exact amount of milk they need for their specific purpose. This allows for greater flexibility and convenience when it comes to purchasing milk.

Alternative milk options can be placed either in person at the store or online, making it easy for customers to get the milk they need without having to hunt around different stores. Many stores also offer delivery options for special orders, further adding to the convenience for customers.

Overall, alternative milk options are a great way for people to get the specific type or quantity of milk they need, whether it’s for dietary reasons, personal preferences, or specific cooking and baking needs. With the convenience of placing orders in person or online, customers can easily access a wider variety of milk options and quantities to meet their individual needs.

Coffee Culture in Spain FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Spanish Coffee Culture

If you’re planning a trip to Spain or simply want to experience the rich and vibrant coffee culture of the country, you probably have a lot of questions. Spanish coffee traditions are deeply rooted in the country’s history and culture, and it’s important to understand the customs and etiquette surrounding this beloved beverage. To help you navigate the world of Spanish coffee, here are some frequently asked questions and their answers:

1. What is the most popular type of coffee in Spain?

The most popular type of coffee in Spain is the café con leche, which is a combination of espresso and steamed milk. It’s similar to an Italian cappuccino, but with a larger ratio of milk to coffee.

2. How do you order coffee in Spain?

When ordering coffee in Spain, it’s important to specify how you want it. For example, if you want black coffee, you would ask for café solo. If you want coffee with a dash of milk, you would ask for café cortado. And if you want a latte, ask for a café con leche.

3. What are some traditional Spanish coffee drinks?

In addition to the café con leche, other traditional Spanish coffee preparations include the café bombón, which is made with sweetened condensed milk, and the carajillo, which is a coffee cocktail made with espresso and liquor.

4. Are there any specific customs or etiquette around drinking coffee in Spain?

Yes, there are certain customs and etiquettes to be aware of when it comes to coffee in Spain. For example, it’s common to drink your coffee standing up at the bar, and it’s not typical to ask for a to-go cup. Additionally, it’s customary to order a small snack, such as a pastry or biscuit, to enjoy with your coffee.

5. What time of day do Spaniards typically drink coffee?

Spaniards typically drink coffee throughout the day, but the most popular time for coffee consumption is in the morning. Many Spaniards also enjoy a café con leche or a café cortado after lunch, as a pick-me-up in the afternoon.

Understanding the rich and diverse coffee culture of Spain will enhance your overall experience in the country. By familiarizing yourself with the different types of coffee, traditional preparations, and customs, you’ll be able to fully embrace the joy of Spanish coffee. So, the next time you find yourself in a charming café in Spain, confidently order a café con leche or ask for a traditional carajillo, and savor every sip of this beloved beverage.

Plus… what are Churros y Chocolate

Churros y chocolate is a popular Spanish treat that has been enjoyed for centuries. It consists of crispy, fried churros dipped in a rich and decadent hot chocolate sauce. Churros are long, thin pastries that are typically dusted with sugar and cinnamon, while the hot chocolate is thick and creamy, making for a perfect pairing.

The origins of churros y chocolate can be traced back to Spain, where it has been a beloved snack for generations. Traditionally, churros y chocolate is enjoyed as a late-night snack or as a special treat during festivals and celebrations. It is commonly served in cafes and street food stalls, where people gather to indulge in this delicious duo.

The combination of crispy churros and velvety chocolate creates a perfect balance of textures and flavors. The churros are usually made from a simple dough of flour, water, and salt, which is then piped into hot oil to create their signature shape and texture. The hot chocolate is made with a mixture of dark chocolate, milk, and sugar, resulting in a rich and indulgent drink that is best enjoyed alongside the churros.

Churros y chocolate has also gained popularity in other parts of the world, and can now be found in many Spanish and Latin American restaurants. It has become a beloved dessert in many countries, where it is often enjoyed as a comforting and satisfying treat.

Whether enjoyed as a late-night snack, a sweet indulgence, or a special treat during a celebration, churros y chocolate is a delightful combination that brings joy to all who indulge in it. Its simple yet satisfying flavors make it a timeless favorite that continues to be cherished by people of all ages. And they go perfectly with a café con leche or café cortado!

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