Bica & Co. our little coffee guide
Ever been to a coffee place and wondered why hardly nobody orders Cappuccino or Espresso in Portugal?
Portugal and its relation to coffee is worth a little excursion. Preparing you getting the drink you actual want and need.
When researching the topic coffee in Portugal you will be showered with many different names for a drink based on that little bean. There is no right or wrong but we’ll answering the question what to order how briefly. Taking into consideration that every little region can have its own word, description and method.
Drinking coffee connect humans. Whenever I enter e.g. the Taberna do Largo at the square in Aljezur, locals stand at the bar counter sipping a small coffee, having a chat about the local gossip in town. Probably you noticed already, no matter how small the village or town is, a place where people meet, start their day or just hang out – taking a break and having a coffee is an essential part of the daily routine. Some people describe those places as the heartbeat of the community.
Don’t be suprised. Ordering a coffee in Portugal means ordering a small short espresso-size drink. Check out the list below for the full exposure.
But First things first
Bitter. That is the taste I remember drinking my first coffee in Portugal. Now I know better. The coffee can be really strong and has the potential to eventually kick you out of your shoes if you’re too sensitive to caffeine. Probably that is might be one of the reasons, why there so many different types, styles and methods to enjoy this popular drink. However, over the time, your body will adapt to the daily dose of happiness almost as a necessity to start your day.
When ordering a Café, you order a small drink in a espresso cup. The cup is filled 2/3 with a strong coffee and topped by a nice crema. There is no milk involved.
“cheio” is translated as long. Therefore, a Café cheio is a small espresso cup filled up to the top. It is a lighter version since there is more water involved.
“curto” is translated as short. So by ordering a Café curto, you order a espresso cup only half filled. The short high pressure of the machine with a little bit of water makes this coffee really strong.
Compared to a famous energy drink, by ordering a Café duplo (“dopp-loo”) you will get a largo cup with double coffee in it. A large kick of caffeine.
This weaker coffee type is sometimes also referred to as sem prencipio. An Escorrdio is served in a small cup whereas the Barista starts the coffee process but waits 2-3 seconds before he or she puts the cup under the coffee spout.
Regionally, there a differences in ordering coffee as well. Whereas in Lisbon and the south you order a Bica (“beak-a”), ordering the Cimbalino (“seemba-lee-noo”) will help you to enjoy coffee in the north and Porto. Cimbalino named after the first Italian coffee machines brand in the country.
In order to top up your Café with a little bit of milk, order a Pingado (“peen-gah’-doo”). Your small cup will be filled with a regular Café and some cold milk on top.
There are several techniques to prepare a Café Carioca. At the Taberna do Largo in Aljezur, they prepare this “weaker” coffee by using no new ground beans rather than the last coffee grounds. They basically reuse the coffee of another coffee prepared before. This makes the product weaker and less strong.
Café Carioca is a major part of the Garoto. When ordering a Garoto, you will be served a Carioca in a small cup topped up with a lot of foamy hot milk.
A shot of coffee served with a lot of milk in tall glass might be your drink if you are looking for a more milkiest coffee experience. The ratio usually is 3/4 milk and the rest coffee.
Meia de leite
By ordering a Meia de leite (“may-uh de lay-t”) you order a similar drink to Galão. But there are some differences. The milk ratio of the Meia de leite is 50-50, so the coffee portion is larger and usually this drink is served in a largo cup rather than in a tall glass. Commonly known as a Latte or coffee with milk.
This type of coffee is served in a larger ceramic cup without any milk. An Abatanado can be compared to a regular Americano which is a stretched Café.
And than sometimes you just need a decaf coffee and order a Descafeindo (“dsh-cuh-fuh-ee-na’-do”). Of course, all described coffee types can be ordered as a decaf version.
As mentioned before there are regional differences and this is just a short brief overview into the Portuguese coffee world.
So, have fun ordering your favorite type at your local Taberna and enjoy the cultural exchange.