How to order a coffee in Malaga
It’s more difficult than you might think!
Lovers of “real” coffee will find that that’s what’s on offer on the Costa del Sol. But ordering what you want is a bit more complicated than just asking for black or white, and asking for a cappuccino, latté or frappé won’t cut it in most of the coffee bars you will visit during your holiday.
So here is a simple guide to what to ask for.
- Café solo = black coffee;
- café cortado = black with a dash of milk;
- café Americano = half cup of black coffee topped up with hot water;
- café con leche = coffee with milk;
- café mitad = half coffee and half milk;
- café sombra = 20% coffee with milk, and if you like really milky coffee ask for café nube, which is 10% coffee topped up with milk (pron: noo-bay).
Coffee often comes in glasses, and the waiter adds the hot milk at the table. If you prefer your coffee in a cup, ask for “café en un taza” (pron: ta-tha). You always get sugar on the saucer, so ask for “sacarina” if you prefer sweetener.
Ask for “café con hielo” (Pron: he-yay-lo) and you will get two glasses – one with black coffee, and the other full of ice cubes. Don’t forget to sweeten the coffee first before pouring it over the ice cubes- fans of this style of coffee swear that doing it the other way round just does not work.
And if you fancy a coffee with a bit of a kick, then “carajillo con coñac” means with brandy, “carajillo con ron” means with rum, and “carajillo con anis” means with anise (Pron: cara-hee-yo).
Those who prefer decaffeinated coffee will have to master the phrase “descaf hecho en maquina (pron. ma-keen-a) “(decaf coffee made in the machine). Or if you prefer the instant, ask for “descaf de sobre” (coffee in a sachet).
One of the most famous and oldest cafés in Malaga is The Café Central in Plaza de la Constitucion, at the top of Calle Larios, the pedestrian shopping street. Inside is a ceramic mosaic created by the famous Malaga ceramic artist Amparo Ruiz de Luna, which illustrates nine different types of coffee, and the name used for each one.
So use it as a guide if you want to explore the different strengths on offer. Just to complicate things, the coffee may be the same composition, but have a completely different name in other parts of Spain – so be aware of that when you are on your travels.
And if tea is your favourite tipple then do bear in mind that Spanish coffee bars are not the place to go for a good brew. The Spanish drink infusion teas but do not know how to make a good cup of “builder’s tea”. If you do order breakfast tea – té desayuno – and are asked “con leche?” (with milk) say “no, leche fria aparte por favor” (pron: lech-ay free-a apart-ey) – a jug of cold milk on the side which you can add to your cup of hot water once you have extracted all you can from the tea bag. Otherwise you will find that the tea bag is floating in hot milk!