The Spanish adore coffee it is part of their daily lives as wine or tapas. A typical Spaniard always starts his or her day with coffee served with hot milk. Similarly, their days end once they have had their supper along with espresso style coffee served in either a tiny cup or glass with lots of sugar. Additional cups are consumed throughout the day served in different ways in a variety of cups or glasses.
Few countries can match the quality and variety of Spanish coffee, and the secret behind this lies in the bean. Spanish coffee is roasted then blended in an exceptional way resulting in a smooth, robust, and full-bodied cup each time.
Exceptional quality raw beans are always used and mezcal and natural are the two main blends produced with the former being the hallmark of Spanish coffee. The mezcal blend is as a result of ‘torrefacto’, whereby a small portion of raw beans is sprayed with a fine mist of sugar before roasting. These glazed beans are subsequently added to the rest of the beans and roasted slowly, and a dark roasted bean with a hint of caramel remains once the sugar is burnt off creating a deep rich coffee without a tinge of bitterness.
A variety of blends emerges after the beans have been roasted and ground each with its unique taste. The roasting and blending of the beans are however just the beginning. You cannot experience the real beauty of Spanish coffee if you don’t sit in a traditional Spanish bar where you can experience the aromas, enjoy the atmosphere, and try a real cup of authentic Spanish coffee.
Café solo forms the basis of all Spanish coffee. It is a strong black coffee usually served in a small glass. If you are into black coffee and feel the solo be too strong, then café Americano is what you need to try even though it is not traditionally Spanish.
Café con leche is another popular way to take coffee particularly the first cup of the day. It comprises partly half café solo and partly hot milk and is usually served in a tall, thin glass or a small glass.
One amazing thing about having your coffee this way is watching it being prepared in Spanish bard whereby the milk is poured into a small jug then heated repeatedly to a beautiful froth using steam from the espresso machine. Café cortado is another variation of coffee with milk whereby a drop of milk is added to strong black coffee.
Machado or café Sombra is another variation of coffee with milk but in this case, it is mostly milk with just a dash of coffee. The names Machado and sombre mean stained and shade respectively and imply that the milk is stained or shaded with just a small amount of coffee.
Café Carrillo is a truly delightful Spanish coffee and watching it being served properly is a pleasure in itself.
A very tiny glass is used, and a dash of brandy goes into it with a tiny glass of café solo set aside. The bartender sets the brandy on fire and uses a teaspoon to slowly spoon the brandy out of the glass before allowing it to drop back down again. The process is repeated for about one minute or so. Once the alcohol has burned off sufficiently, the café solo is then poured into the glass, and the result is the ideal morning tipple particularly for those cold days.
In bars is where you will find a more rustic variety of this whereby the café solo is served with a dash of whiskey or rum, aniseed, brandy, or even more fashionably, Crema Catalana, Baileys or any other cream rum liqueur.
However, nothing quite matches authentic café Carrillo which is something that should be on your bucket list.
If you have a sweet tooth, you can enjoy a variety of café con leche known as a café bombon, which refers to a tiny glass of condensed milk and café solo is poured slowly into it. The drink stays separated half white and half black until you mix it.
In the summer months, you can enjoy café con hielo or iced coffee. The right way to drink it is to have either a café con leche or café solo and a tall glass full of ice cubes on the side; you need to then pour the coffee over the ice to drink it the proper Spanish way.
The true beauty of Spanish coffee emanates from the fact that you are always guaranteed to enjoy an amazing cup of coffee regardless of the time of day or whichever the way you take it. It does not matter where you take your Spanish coffee, in fact, the most world-wore and rustic Spanish bars regularly serve the best coffee.