Culture,  Thriving

Coffee Culture in Spain


Dear John,

We’ve talked about it before and we have even explained how to make your own, but let’s face it—in today’s day and age almost everyone loves coffee and so we could go on about it forever. In addition, in Spain, there is a really strong coffee culture and we believe that coffee shops are really important here—we even wrote a blog post about it here. However, the coffee culture in Spain isn’t what you probably expect, especially if you’re coming from the US!

That’s why today we are sharing with you a video where we quickly dive into some insights on coffee in Spain, specially focusing in on the aspects that may surprise you, too, as a foreigner:


In this video we talk about:

How coffee in Spain is different to coffee in the U.S. but also other European countries too

It is really easy to expect Spanish coffee culture to be the same as Portuguese or Italian coffee culture because they are all neighbors. However, this is simply not true and there are many small differences (from the size of the coffee to the type of milk people use) that distinguish these countries. If you love Italian coffee, you may not be as fond of Spanish coffee. However, if you keep in mind that your expectations should be different, we have a feeling you’ll grow to enjoy a Spanish cup of coffee.


Why you might think Spanish coffee is bitter (trust us, you’re not alone)

Traditionally coffee in Spain was preserved using sugar that was subsequently burnt during the roasting process, resulting in that burnt or bitter flavor you can often taste in Spanish coffee. Coffee preserved in this way is referred to as torrefacto in Spanish. While this process isn’t necessary today, we often see that it is still used because people are attached to the flavor. A common alternative to pure torrefacto coffee is a mezcla version, which mixes these sugar-coated beans with non-sugar-coated beans. If you find torrefacto too bitter, we recommend seeking out a mezcla.

Coffee that is made entirely of non-torrefacto beans can be found in Spain, but it is not the norm so you may struggle if you’re not in a big city where there are some more touristy coffee shops.


How people drink coffee in Spain

A typical coffee order in Spain might be anywhere from a café sólo (like an Italian espresso but slightly different if you ask the experts) to a café con leche or a coffee with milk. In the middle you’ll find coffee such as a cortado (an espresso with a touch of milk) or a manchado (a cup of milk with a touch of espresso). Details like how much milk is added to the drink and whether it is hot or cold—or potentially both—are things that can change from region to region. For more details, be sure to check out the post we mentioned. You also might see drinks such as cappuccino (Italian) or a flat white (British) but they might not be what you are expecting.


What you should know about Spanish coffee culture

Finally, you should know that people go out for their coffee and actually drink it in the coffee shop. Likewise, giant to-go cups are not common here so don’t expect to find them unless you are in a touristy place. We recommend taking advantage of the fact that a quick cup of coffee offers you an opportunity to sit down and relax or interact with the local shop owner—it might help you see things from a Spanish perspective.

Coffee Culture in Spain..pngIf you have any questions, leave them in the comments and we hope you enjoy your café, however you happen to take it!


P.S. Has this post got you curious about other coffee cultures around the world? If so, be sure to check out this resource from ColdHotDrinks.


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