A Guide to Ordering Coffee in Spain

This blog post was originally posted on December 17, 2014, and was updated on October 11, 2017.

We don’t know what we’d do without our coffee…

…so we wouldn’t dream of sending you out in Madrid without a helpful rundown of the local java jargon. Whether you like it black, iced, with or without milk, we’ve got you covered in our complete guide to ordering coffee in Spain!

Ordering coffee in Spain is easy with this guide. Learn the local lingo to order your regular cup of coffee or surprise your senses and order something new.Photo Credit: 55Laney69 (Text Overlay: Devour Madrid)

First, you should know the espresso brewing method is the most popular way to prepare coffee in Spain. This method forces extremely hot, pressurized water through finely ground coffee beans. This results in a stronger flavor in a smaller amount of coffee. A cup of coffee brewed in this manner is often referred to as espresso.

Ordering coffee in Spain involves the barista taking a cup of espresso and then adding milk to your liking. They won’t add any sugar. Rather, you will receive packets of sugar to add to your coffee yourself.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, there’s a little more to it, which is why we’ve created this trusty guide for ordering coffee in Spain. Continue reading (or watch Devour Madrid expert guide Luke break things down in the video below), and before you know it, you’ll be sipping the perfect coffee in Madrid!

Coffees Served with Little or No Milk

Café Solo
A café solo is a small cup of strong, black espresso. Order this if you need some energy during a fun day of sightseeing around Madrid.

Café Americano
If the intensity of a café solo is a bit much, try a café americano. This coffee contains the same amount of caffeine as a café solo but with more water, resulting in a milder flavor.

Café Cortado
A café cortado is a small cup of espresso with just a splash of milk. Other regions in Spain may refer to this drink as café manchado (stained coffee). However, some places, a manchado refers to a glass of milk flavored with coffee, so be sure to specify!

Café con Hielo
This summertime favorite is simply coffee with ice. The barista will give you two glasses: one containing black espresso and another containing ice cubes. To enjoy, just pour your coffee over the ice.

Carajillo
This coffee order doesn’t have a drop of milk, instead, it has alcohol! A carajillo is espresso served with rum, whisky or brandy.

Ordering coffee in Spain can be complicated, but with such great coffee available all over the country, it's so worth it to take the time to learn the lingo and get it right!
You can’t go wrong with a piping hot café solo in Spain Photo Credit: Michelle Tribe

Coffees Served with a Lot of Milk

Café con Leche
A café con leche is coffee served with equal parts espresso and milk. Sometimes when you order this, the waiter may ask if you want hot or cold milk. If you’re in a bit of a hurry and can’t wait for the steamed milk to cool, you can ask for leche fría o leche del tiempo (cold or room temperature milk).

Café Bombon
A café bombon is espresso with sweetened condensed milk. Those of you with a sweet tooth must try it! If you prefer to eat your sweets, make sure to check out the some of Madrid’s best pastry shops.

The pretty leaf decoration found on top of this café con leche won't be available everywhere, but the strong tasting delicious coffee is a given all throughout Spain
Café con leche is a hugely popular coffee drink all throughout Spain Photo Credit: Edsel Little

Decaffeinated Coffees

Fresh decaffeinated coffee isn’t very popular in Spain, and many cafes may only have it in instant form. If you order a café descafeinado de sobre, you’ll receive a cup of hot milk and a packet of instant decaffeinated coffee.

However, some cafes offer descafeinado de maquina (machine-brewed decaffeinated coffee). If you see it on the menu, decide how you would like your coffee served, and be sure to clarify thatyou want it prepared with decaffeinated coffee.

For example, if you want a decaffeinated café americano, simply say: Querría un café americano descafeinado.

Enjoy Coffee the Spanish Way

Now that you’ve got ordering coffee in Spain down, the last thing to note is that most Spaniards do not take their coffees ‘to go’. Instead, they sit down to enjoy their drinks with friends or family. Do as the Spaniards do: drink your coffee in a beautiful public square or a quaint cafe. You can use the opportunity as a short respite from exploring Madrid!

Want to sample some great coffee, learn about Madrid’s amazing food culture and hear about some of the city’s most fascinating history and traditions? Join us on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour! You’ll experience Madrid like a local and have the opportunity to taste the diverse flavors of Spain. Coffee is only the beginning! 

16 Comment

  1. […] If you prefer having some tea or coffee in Valencia I know two places you must visit when you are in the City. But before you go you may want to learn about the spanish coffee rules first. […]

  2. […] you through the caffeinated world.  I’d suggest this one.  And if you’re in Spain try this. If you’re in Italy order like this, France, like this. Last but not least, when at Starbucks […]

  3. […] enjoy their coffee in many different ways, but in recent years tea has had a surge in popularity. Tekoe, a Swiss tea company, has been […]

  4. […] If you like coffee and are visiting Madrid:  tips on how to order coffee in Spain […]

  5. […] tip: If you prefer your coffee strait up, order and an “Americano” or a “café solo&#82…, for just a shot of […]

  6. […] your day off right with a classic cup of café con leche, or a cortado if you need more of a jolt, in the Plaza de Santa Ana. Relax in the sunny city-center […]

  7. […] not simply say ‘un café’ (a coffee) being specific is key to avoid disappointment. Check this helpful guide by Devour […]

  8. […] smaller shops, English can be limited. To get your morning caffeine fix, hassle-free, check out our guide for ordering coffee in Spanish. There are also great translation and dictionary apps that work wonders on getting through a […]

  9. […] One of the best ways to start your day in Madrid is with a nice cup of coffee and tostada con tomate (toast with fresh tomato puree). This classic breakfast combination is a small toasted baguette served with a little bowl of freshly pureed tomato. You spoon the tomato over the bread and then drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. It’s like sunshine on bread! If you’re feeling like a little protein kick, you can add on some Spanish cured ham! For help on how to order your coffee in Spanish, check out or Spanish coffee ordering guide. […]

  10. […] Although sightings of Santa Claus are becoming more common in recent years, historically La Adoración de los Reyes Magos is the most important Christmas tradition in Spain. If you are in Madrid on January 5th, you MUST add seeing the Cabalgata to your holiday to-do list. And be sure to buy a roscón to accompany your morning coffee or hot chocolate! […]

  11. […] meal routine in Spain generally consists of a small bite and a café con leche upon waking, a mid-morning snack called the media mañana to tide you over until a hearty lunch […]

  12. Sam says: Reply

    Expresso machiato equivalent in Palma please ?

    1. Brianne Garrett says: Reply

      Hi Sam! Thanks for the question! We’d say a cafe cortado is going to be the best fit! It might have less foam, but the milk-to-espresso ratio is the most similar!

  13. Kirill says: Reply

    Hey! I would more useful in you added how to say hot and cold in Spanish. Especially here:

    Sometimes when you order this, the waiter may ask if you want hot or cold milk.

    Many thanks! 🙂

    1. Brianne Garrett says: Reply

      Hi Kirill! Thanks for your suggestion! The word for cold in this case would be fría, and the word for hot would be caliente! Hope that helps!

  14. […] you have ever been to Spain and wondered what type of coffee to ask for, then this guide to ordering coffee that I came across recently is just for […]

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