As it looks increasingly likely many of us won’t get to a European country for our holidays this year, we thought we would continue with our theme of looking at the coffee culture in some of our favourite destinations, and this time it’s Spain. Many people will lump the Portuguese, Italian and Spanish coffee cultures together as one amorphous Southern European blob. But there are subtle differences, we’ll explore these and how you can make a coffee the authentic Spanish way and how you can pretend you’re in Andalucia even if you are not leaving Abingdon.

Coffee bean choice for Spanish coffee

Like the Italians, most coffees you’ll drink whilst in Spain will be derived from an Espresso. And for the perfect espresso, you’ll want a coffee that is bold and punchy. You may have noticed that Spanish coffee often tastes a little more bitter and this coffee is known as ‘Torrefacto’. The Torrefacto method added was invented by adding sugar to the beans prior to roasting (the sugar preserved the beans, and became popular after the Spanish civil war where scarcity of coffee was a problem). Though the Torrefacto method is no longer in popular use in Spain the taste for bitter, acrid coffee has. So if you want to make coffee the Spanish way, make it strong.

spanish coffee

Spanish coffee variants

You may have noticed when visiting Spain that drinks can vary from region to region. One thing will always be true however, ask for a ‘cafe solo’ and you’ll get an espresso. Go off-piste from the espresso and the lines will become a little blurred. A ‘Cafe con leche’ will be an espresso with milk and a ‘cortado’ will be an espresso with just a touch of the white stuff. Then there’s the ‘manchado’ which will be a cup of warmed milk with some espresso.

The Cortado coffee

For our money, the Cortado is the authentic Spanish coffee that we’ll be missing most this year. So here’s how to make the perfect one:

  • Make your espresso shot (see our brewing guide for tips here)
  • Using your steam wand, froth the milk. You want to go for equal parts milk to coffee for the perfect Cortado
  • Pour your milk over the coffee and serve 

If you want to go for the Authentic Spanish coffee shop flavour for your Cortado you could use some UHT milk which, like most southern European countries, tends to be the most widely used type. Now sit back and relax and imagine you’re not in Telford but Torremolinos.

cortado coffee