Negotiating the minefield of coffee etiquette can be so hazardous it really should have UN-approved yellow-and-black warning signs. Luckily, our resident hada de madrina de idiomas Tash Aleksy is here to take you by the hand in case you are looking for coffee in Valencia…
If when you landed in Valencia your first mission was to find a nice cup of PG Tips, you may quickly have learned that Britain’s answer for everything is fairly elusive in the realm of the Turia. Met with a look of perplexity upon asking for milk with tea, many of us decide to permanently opt for a cup of café con leche for ease of communication in the outside world, and scramble to Dealz in search of the herbal taste of home for consumption at, ahem, home.
While you drink your tepid café con leche, watch as the waiter puts down all kinds of different coffees in front of the other patrons. It isn’t just a case of black or white coffee – which by the way would be ordered as café americano or café con leche (and you may have to explain in less cosmopolitan areas that an americano is a café solo con agua caliente) – there are many other options which you might like to try. Today we are helping you understand the art of ordering coffee in Valencia.
So let’s imagine you’ve just had a big meal. Many Valencians deem a cup of café con leche demasiado (too much) after eating a carb-packed lunch. But you still need an energy shot – so try a cortado. A shot of espresso with an equal amount of milk. If it’s summer, you may go one step further and ask for un cortado del tiempo – you’ll get your espresso with a bit of milk, hot so that you can melt some sugar in it, with a separate glass and ice in which to pour your cortado. If you manage to do this without spilling any, we want a photo or it didn’t happen.
Or let’s say you have a sweet tooth. For you, then, we suggest a café bombón. A shot of espresso with a squirt of condensed milk. You can ask for this del tiempo too and nobody will suspect your distinct heritage – unless you’re wearing flip-flops for a walk around the old town. (Flip-flops are strictly reserved for walking around a swimming pool, and as for socks and sandals, you might as well have the Union Flag tattooed across your back. Or possibly the German flag, thinking about it.)
Late afternoon or evening and you’ll want decaf to avoid lying wide-eyed at 4am begging God to let you go to sleep. In that case, Descafeinado is the word you’re looking for. This option is broken down into two further options – de máquina or de sobre (machine-ground decaf coffee or a little sachet). If you really want to show off, you can ask for a cortado descafeinado de máquina corto de café con sacarina. We suggest starting a new sentence if you also want the milk piping hot.
Finally, we couldn’t leave you without helping you get a shot of something a little stronger in your coffee. Un carajillo – an espresso coffee with a chug of your favourite spirit. We’d ask for a carajillo de Baileys, for example.
And if you manage to jump over all these hurdles of previous levels of difficulty with the aplomb of a world-class showjumper, before you get too smug, be sure to ask us about the cremaet.
Tash Aleksy runs Spanglish City – this offers online Spanish classes via Zoom in a flexible, pay-as-you-go format. Well-prepared, varied classes in the comfort of your own home. Visit www.spanglishcity.com