Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Spain

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Welcome expatriates to the rich tapestry of coffee culture in Spain, a country that is renowned for its coffee traditions and customs. If you're an expat living in Spain, you'll quickly notice that coffee plays a significant role in daily life and social interactions. Whether you're sipping coffee in a crowded cafe or enjoying a quiet moment at home, this guide provides practical tips, insights, and recommendations for immersing yourself in Spain's coffee culture.

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

To truly appreciate Spain's coffee culture, it's essential to understand where coffee is sourced and how it's produced. While Spain is not a major coffee producer, it's still possible to find locally grown beans that are of high quality. A significant portion of coffee consumed in Spain is imported, with many of the most popular blends coming from Latin America and Africa.

If you're interested in exploring coffee plantations and farms, it's definitely possible to do so in Spain. Some popular regions for coffee cultivation include Catalonia, where the mild climate and volcanic soils are suitable for coffee plants. The Sierra de Gredos region, located near Madrid, also has ideal growing conditions for coffee, with many small-scale growers experimenting with new varieties.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

Spain has a rich array of coffee style drinks that are preferred by locals and expats alike. Some of the most popular include:

  • Cafe con Leche: This is probably the most popular coffee style drink in Spain. It's basically an espresso shot with a generous amount of hot milk. Some people prefer their cafe con leche to be stronger, while others prefer it to be milder. The best way to enjoy cafe con leche is to drink it slowly, savoring the flavors and aromas.
  • Cafe Corto: This is a short espresso shot that is very concentrated and strong. It's similar to an espresso shot that you'll find in Italy, but the flavor is usually more intense.
  • Cafe Sol: Also known as a cafe sans sugar, this is an espresso shot without any sugar. It's a more straightforward and pure coffee experience.
  • Churros con Chocolate: While not technically a coffee style drink, churros con chocolate is often enjoyed alongside coffee in Spain. It consists of churros, which are long, fried doughnuts, served with a thick, rich chocolate dipping sauce.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Coffee plays a significant role in Spanish culture, and there are various customs and traditions that are associated with it. Here are a few examples:

  • It's common to drink coffee with your meal. In fact, many restaurants will bring out a small espresso shot after you've finished eating as a way of helps your digestion.
  • Coffee is often consumed in social settings. This can range from an impromptu gathering in a plaza to a more formal meeting in a cafe.
  • Coffee is a sign of hospitality in Spain. If you're invited into someone's home, it's common to be offered a coffee or espresso shot as a way of showing your host's appreciation.
  • Coffee is often consumed slowly and enjoyed as part of a leisurely experience. This can include people-watching in a plaza or enjoying the atmosphere of a traditional, old-school cafe.

Recommended Coffee Shop and Cultural Experiences

If you're looking for the best coffee shops and cultural experiences in Spain, here are a few recommendations:

  • Cafe de Oriente, Madrid: This is a traditional cafe that has been around since 1881. It's a great place to experience the societal vibes of Spanish culture while enjoying a cup of cafe con leche.
  • Carrer Blai Building, Barcelona: This is a brand new coffee shop, which combines traditional and modern coffee culture. It offers an excellent opportunity to experience the contemporary side of Spanish coffee while enjoying the cultural city of Barcelona.
  • Kiosko Cruz Verde, Gran Canaria: This is a stunning coffee shop located in the lush gardens of Parque Urbano Juan Manuel Cao. It's a great place to enjoy the outdoors while enjoying a delicious coffee drink.
  • Cappucin Cafee Barra, Barcelona: This is a specialty coffee shop that offers a wide range of coffee styles and drinks. It's a great place to learn about the latest trends in Spanish coffee culture.


Coffee culture is an integral part of Spanish life, providing expats with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in local customs and traditions. By understanding the origins and production of coffee, exploring the different coffee style drinks, and respecting the cultural traditions, you'll be able to experience Spain's coffee culture in a much more profound way.