The Spanish Language Blog

Spaniards start early in the morning when they go out for breakfast somewhere before work. Of course, there are many types of coffee and the assortment is only growing. There are a few variations on each type of coffee to make the perfect coffee for everyone. The work in a bar doesn't get any easier....

  • The first cup of coffee was drunk a long time ago, but not in the way we drink it today. Although you would expect otherwise, for a very long time coffee in Spain was drunk only by the royal family and nobility.
  • From black coffee to latte and from coffee with alcohol to iced coffee. Everything is possible. Of course, they all have their own Spanish designation. Always useful to know; also when you want to order a coffee in Spain that most resembles the coffee at home.

Coffee history

Coffee itself has been around for a long time: around 1500, coffee was already drunk by the Yemeni, wise Sufis to stay awake while praying. Around 1600 it came to Europe and here it was considered medicine.Although not officially a medicine, it is a healthy remedy. For example, it stimulates the central nervous system and promotes breathing and digestion.

While Spain is ahead of the rest of Europe in many aspects, however, coffee arrived in Spain late. In the process, it was initially, and for a long time, only consumed by the royal family and nobility. When finally in 1764 (first coffee shop in Amsterdam as early as 1663) the first coffee shop was opened in Madrid, things moved quickly. A few years later, coffee cafes also opened in Barcelona and inspired many other cities in Spain. Spanish coffee was a fact. By now we are almost 250 years on and there are different variations of coffee.

Types of coffee in Spain

Anyone looking for a (side) job in a Spanish café will still need to read up on the different types of coffee. Spain loves versatility, in summer and in winter. Therefore, there are 7 types of coffee for a reason, each with its own variations according to the wishes and needs of the customers. Below is a brief explanation of the types of coffee found in the cafes:

Café solo is a strong cup of black coffee often drunk after meals or with breakfast. A Cortado is a strong cup of coffee with a little hot milk. A cortado is often drunk from a glass and is very similar to foreign coffee. Café con leche, the name says it all: coffee with milk. Café con leche is best known among foreigners and similar to coffee latte. It is a cup of coffee with hot milk often consumed at breakfast.After 11 p.m., the café con leche is replaced by a stronger cup of coffee. An americano is American-style coffee: a large cup of black coffee. An Americano is less strong than a café solo. 

Especially for the men, there is a carajillo, similar to a café solo. A small, strong cup of coffee but with a dash of whiskey, cognac or some other kind of liquor. This coffee is widely consumed by Spanish men. The cappuchino has also reached Spain, although the Spaniards themselves are not such fans of it. The cappuchino is available with a topping of whipped cream or whipped milk. If Spaniards drink it at all, it is with whipped milk. In fact, the whipped cream is for tourists. After all, nothing is "safer" than cappuchino with whipped cream; you know what you're getting. For summer, there is the café con hielo: coffee with ice cream. When you order a café con hielo, you get a café solo or a cortado with sugar and a glass with ice. The idea is that you yourself pour the coffee into the glass with ice and enjoy a delicious, refreshing and cold coffee.

Of course, there are many other types of coffee, but these are the most common.

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