Spanish Coffee and Culture
When it comes to coffee hotspots of the world, Spain is well worth a mention. Where it’s not usually muttered in the same breath as Italian or French coffee, the brews’ produced by the Spanish are just as high in quality, and are known far and wide for their rich and intense tastes.
You’ll find no instant coffee in cafés across Spain and you won’t glance upon fan favourites such as cappuccinos, lattes and flat whites – unless you head on over to a coffeeshop chain that is. But, for those who want to immerse themselves in the Spanish coffee culture and discover all the wonderful things the country has to offer, keep reading and we’ll tell you all you need to know, from the native coffees right down to the history.
The history of Spanish coffee
Before plunging into the coffee culture of Spain, it’s important to understand the part they played in the early days of the coffee industry. Spanish ships were actually a key part of the distribution of coffee and were responsible for carrying coffee plants and seeds to remote areas of the world where the plant wasn’t native. Interestingly, despite being key to distributing it, coffee wasn’t native to Spain at all and it came to the country via Turkish Immigrants.
Spain was also crucial in popularising coffee in Central and South America, as many chose to settle in the country and created huge coffee plantations. And, the Spanish growers based in Latin America soon became a huge part of the coffee export industry.
The original Spanish coffeehouse
Another interesting fact of the history of Spanish coffee is that during the late 19th century, coffeehouses were a far cry from the casual hotspots you see today. Back then, the local café was a place of status, a sophisticated locale for intellectuals, artists, poets, writers and philosophers. You’d expect buildings draped in luxury, boasting high ceilings, ornate furnishings and an atmosphere more akin to that of fine dining.
Spanish cafés today
Spanish cafés have come a long way since the sombre experience of previous years. Now, they’re lively places, social locations for the locals to get together, socialise and create and nourish friendships. Coffee to go is a rare concept in Spain, and as such, the Café is usually a bustling hotspot in any neighbourhood, filled with chatter and people whiling away their afternoons, watching the world go by whilst munching on delicious pastries and sipping on the country’s wonderful coffees.
The Spanish coffee roast
The Spanish roast is perhaps one of the darkest and strongest on the market. Known as Spanish Roast or Dark French Roast, the roast process yields very dark (almost black) beans which are oily in appearance. And, when brewed, the beans produce a very strong, almost charred taste.
Another roast native to Spain is Torrefacto, the method for producing this involves adding sugar to the coffee beans during the roasting process. When the sugar burns, it creates a shiny, black film and this coating protects the beans from oxidisation. However, this roast produces a very dark and bitter brew which is not commonly enjoyed by tourists.
Spanish coffee types
There are tonnes of delicious native Spanish coffees, so much so that you could go to a different café or bar each day and never have the same drink twice. Interestingly, unlike other countries, Spanish coffee is named after the amount of milk added, so it’s worth knowing the options out there so you don’t get caught out when ordering.