Ordering Coffee in Spain

Ordering a cup of coffee in Spain is not as simple as in other countries where you just order coffee and get a cup with milk and sugar separately.

It doesn't work that way in Spain; you have to specify exactly what type of coffee you want, such as café solo, café con leche, cortado, carajillo, descafeinado de sobre, corto de café, largo de leche, and many other variations.


Café solo, café con leche, corto de café, or largo de leche, descafeinada de sobre, and many other variations. Coffee in Spain is something enjoyed either at home or in the numerous bars and cafes, for breakfast, after a meal, or just in between. There are coffee variations with or without alcohol, and different regions in Spain have their own expressions and variations. There are many coffee variations in Spain, and if you listen in a bar or on a terrace in Spain, you'll hear them naturally. There are diverse types even for the most common coffees, and the list keeps growing. The most popular varieties include:


A strong cup of coffee with a splash of hot milk, often served in a glass but also possible in a cup. For many foreigners, Cortado is the most suitable type of coffee as it is quite similar to coffee in their own country. If you want something stronger and the bar offers it, you can also ask for an Italian macchiato.


An Americano is comparable to a café solo but milder, also known as a large cup of black coffee. An Americano is usually served in a larger cup.

Café con leche

Perhaps the most familiar coffee type among foreigners, a large cup of coffee with hot milk. This coffee is most commonly consumed in the morning during breakfast and is similar to a latte in the Netherlands. In Spain, it's customary not to drink café con leche after 11 a.m. After that time, it's usual to opt for a stronger variant.


This is a small strong cup of coffee (café solo or cortado) with a shot of whiskey, brandy, Baileys, or other liqueur of your choice. This type of coffee is popular among Spanish men.

Café con hielo

Very popular during the hot summer months, a cup of coffee, usually café solo or cortado, served with sugar and a glass of ice. The drinker pours the coffee over the ice to make an iced coffee. Refreshingly cool.


Known to everyone and originally from Italy. This is essentially an Americano with either whipped cream (nata) or frothy milk on top. Spaniards don't drink much cappuccino, but if they do, it won't have whipped cream, that's more for foreigners.



Many Dutch and Belgian people spend the winter on the Costa Blanca and will undoubtedly be familiar with the following coffees. How about 'blanco y negro', a granulated coffee with meringue milk (café granizado con leche merengada)? And what about 'café del tiempo', which is a cold coffee with lots of ice cubes and sugar, possibly with a slice of lemon and cinnamon.


In Cartagena, you can ask for an 'asiático', a café solo with condensed milk, brandy, Licor 43, and ground cinnamon, served very hot. If you order a 'belmonte', you'll get a coffee with condensed milk and brandy.


Ordering a cup of coffee in Málaga is an art in itself, and they have very different names and types of coffee. For instance, there's 'mitad', which is actually a café con leche (half and half), but you can also ask for 'largo', with more coffee and less milk, or 'manchado', which is very little coffee and a lot of milk, or 'corto', which is lots of milk and little coffee. And then there's 'sombra' (shadow), which is a finger-width of coffee and the rest milk, or 'nube' (cloud), which is a lot of milk and just a few drops of coffee.


In Aragón, you can order 'quemadillo', which is basically a coffee with something in it. And that something is usually alcohol, such as 'quemadillo aragonés', which is coffee, rum, and milk.


On the Balearic island of Ibiza, you can ask for 'café caleta', which is a carajillo with rum or cognac with a bit of lemon and orange. In Mallorca, you can order 'rebentó', which is also a carajillo with rum from the island.


Here, the coffee can have different names on each island, but if you order 'leche y leche', you'll get a large coffee with condensed milk (café largo con leche condensada). On Lanzarote, you can order a double coffee (café doble) by asking for 'nunca mais'. On Tenerife, people drink 'barraquito', which is a café con leche with condensed milk.


In Cantabria, it's common to ask for 'mediano', which is a café con leche, and the cortado is always served in a glass cup (presentation matters).


In this region, you can order 'completo', which means you not only want a coffee but also want a brandy and a cigar to go with it, a complete package usually enjoyed after a meal.


If you want a true café manchego, go for 'resolí', which is mountain brandy, sugar, coffee, dried orange peel, and cinnamon.


Naturally, in Catalonia, you order coffee in Catalan, such as cortado, which is 'tallat' there, or café con leche, which is 'café amb llet'. But you can also order 'trifásico', a café con leche with brandy, or 'catalán', which is coffee with crema catalana.


In this region, you can order 'celta', which is coffee with brown sugar, a dash of orujo, coffee beans, and a slice of lemon. You can also ask for 'café con gotas', an espresso with a few drops of orujo (distilled alcoholic drink popular in Galicia, Asturias, and Cantabria).


In Madrid, you can order all the normal coffees, but also a 'mediana', which is a café con leche, but halfway through the morning, in a small cup. But if you ask for 'mitad y mitad', you'll get the coffee with half warm and half cold milk.

Source: Spanje vandaag