Tomar un café in Spain is an essential part of the local daily lifestyle. It can be a relaxing moment to share with friends and family, or a much needed pick-me up to give you a boost for the rest of the day or night ahead. There are still some interesting habits to discover in Barcelona, where any time could be the right time for a coffee. But there’s no need to change your own habits, as you can choose the time and place to drink it, as Barcelona is filled with cafés, terraces and restaurants that offer the nation’s favourite hot brew.
Aside from the fancy Starbucks concoctions, there are still so many different types of coffee available in even the simplest cafés. Yes, ordering a cup of coffee is complex now, and even more abroad: here is a guide to help you choose and ask for your perfect cup of coffee in the Catalan capital.
Café solo – single expresso
If you don’t like milk but prefer a black, short and strong coffee, this one will wake you up in the morning or after your lunch (helping you not to fall into the Spanish siesta!) Spanish people usually drink it after lunch since the milk of a café con leche can sometimes be too heavy. If a café solo is too small for you, ask for a café doble which is a double expresso.
Perfect for summer! You’ll get your coffee and ice cubes on the side. Add sugar in your coffee first and then pour it over the rocks, and don’t wait too long to drink it!
Café con leche – coffee with milk
This is one of the most popular drinks in Spain, often favoured in the morning to wake up, and sometimes in evenings too.
This is the equivalent of the Italian macchiato: a café solo, or single shot of expresso, with a generous splash of milk.
Café Americano – large filter coffee (or white coffee) with a lot of water
It is a good alternative if you think that an expresso is too strong. café doble is too strong. It is basically a double expresso with lots of water.
Carajillo – Expresso with brandy, whiskey or rhum
Commonly ordered in the late afternoons and evenings. You can choose the type of alcohol you like the most.
Trifasico – Carajillo with a bit of milk
This coffee originated from Catalonia includes coffee, milk or cream, and a liquor.
Bombón – café solo with condensed sweet milk
A delicious treat that tastes like a chocolate bombón in your mouth.
Café suizo – coffee topped with whipped cream.
Finally if you don’t tolerate caffeine, don’t ask for a descafeinado only, but a descafeinado de maquina or you’ll get an instant descafeinado coffee paquet with a glass of hot milk.
- You can also ask for less coffee ‘corto de café’ or more ‘largo de café’
- Add ‘doble’ at the end of the name of the coffee you’d like to double the shot and get a stronger coffee.
- Ask for ‘un vaso de agua’ with your coffee (a glass of water)
- Be careful with the temperature of the milk: caliente is sometimes very very hot. Ask for a ‘café con leche templada’
- If you don’t like cow’s milk, there are sometimes some alternatives on the menu: leche de soja (soya), de almendra (almond), de cabra (goat), de avellana (hazelnut), de avena (oat)
You’re now ready to order your coffee!