A Complete Guide to Spanish Coffee

Coffee is a Spanish institution, enjoyed across the country at any time of day or night. When it comes to coffee, you’ll find a large number of different variations: you can order your Spanish coffee with or without milk, as well as with or without liquor.

Taking time out of your day to visit a café or restaurant and enjoy a coffee is a great way to relax and unwind during your time in Spain.

With so many different options available, we have created this quick and handy guide to help you to order the perfect Spanish coffee for you: you’ll be drinking your coffee like a local in no time!

The Spanish Coffee Terms You Need to Know

Café Solo: If you order a café solo then you are ordering a coffee that is similar to the Italian espresso, but less strong to taste. This is a black coffee in Spanish, and this coffee will be served in a small cup, and is a great pick me up for the start of the day

Cortado: If you prefer your coffee milkier and more mellow then a cortado is the right option for you. This has the same amount of coffee as a cafe solo, and is also served in a small cup, but contains milk.

Carajilo: If you want to enjoy a Spanish coffee with liquor at the end of a meal then this is what you ask for. Carajilo is usually served with whiskey, brandy, or Baileys. Carajilo is served in a glass, and the way it is served differs from place to place: in some restaurants your prepared drink will be brought to the table, whilst in others the waiter will bring both the coffee and the bottle of liquor, so that you can choose how much you would like added to your drink.

Trifasico: This is the same as carajilo, but with milk added to the coffee as well as the liquor.

Bombon: If you have a sweet tooth then this is the coffee for you! This is a rich drink consisting of a café solo served with condensed milk, and it tastes very sweet. Off all the Spanish coffee types, this is definitely the sweetest, and is served in a small glass, and can be enjoyed at any time of day.

Café Belmont: Like the sound of the bombon but like your coffee to have a kick? A café belmont is a bombon with a dash of brandy added to it.

Café con leche: need something big and milky to kick start your day? This is a simple drink that is served in a large cup and is served with half coffee and half milk. The result is a mellow and milky brew that’s incredibly easy to drink.

Cappuccino: A cappuccino is a classic drink that features one shot of strong coffee that is topped up with a large quantity of milk foam to dilute the foam. This drink is just as popular in Spain as it is in its native Italy, and can be made with almost any of a range of Spanish coffee brands. 

Con hielo: If you want something simple,  cold and easy to drink then order a con hielo: this is a Spanish coffee shot served with a glass of ice cubes. Simply pour the shot over the ice and enjoy

Cortado con hielo: As above, but served with a shot of milk alongside the coffee.

Café Desgraciado: Finally, if you are offered a café desgraciado then say no! This translates to mean ’miserable coffee’ and will be as sad and difficult to drink as it sounds! Indisputably the worst of the Spanish coffee types, a café desgraciado is made up of (descafeinado), skimmed milk and sacarina as a sweetener in lieu of proper sugar.

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