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Friday, June 01, 2007

How to order coffee in Spain

cafe cortado

While I'm not much of a fan of coffee in France, I love coffee in Spain. I particularly adore it when a matronly waitress comes to my breakfast table with two giant, steaming pots, one filled with dark coffee and the other hot milk, and then performs a delicate balancing –and dangerous- act of pouring both at once into a waiting coffee cup. I wince every time, but I've yet to see a spill. Quite extraordinary really! That particular style of coffee is called Café con Leche, coffee with milk, quite likely the most popular breakfast beverage in Spain.

My other favorite –especially to drink in the afternoon- has a bit less milk, and is called Café Cortado. It's basically an espresso cut with just a little bit of milk. Even better than Café Cortado is Carajillo, espresso spiked with liquor (often brandy or whiskey), which comes in quite handy after a long and full night of tapas crawling.

In Barcelona, our friend Marta taught me to love another coffee drink called Trifásico, a Carajillo with milk. Trifásico means three phases, an apt name for a drink with three ingredients: leave it to the Catalan to come up with such a poetic title for a simple drink.

Here's the rest of the coffe terms I've learnt. Let me know if I missed anything.

Café Solo – single espresso
Café Doble – double espresso
Café con Leche – coffee with milk, usually almost half and half proportionally
Café Cortado – espresso cut with just a bit of milk
Café con Hielo – espresso served along side a glass of ice
Carajillo – espresso spiked with brandy or whiskey
Trifásico – a Catalan specialty, basically a Carajillo with a bit of milk

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