Among the many traits and passions that Italy and the Iberian Peninsula share, there is without a doubt also the love for coffee in all its forms. As we have already had the possibility to see thanks to our little themed trip around the world, the coffee break is also a very important moment of the day in Spain and Portugal, and there are many specialities worth trying in these two countries. Let’s not be frightened by the language or new things though: in this article, we will tell you everything there is to know about coffee in Portugal. Are you ready to head off to Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve?
Coffee in Portugal, the story of a passion
Let’s start with a really interesting fact. Do you know how many cafés and restaurants there are in Portugal? It is estimated that there are more than 40,000 in a country with a population of only10 million people. An extremely high average that provides something for everyone both inhabitants and tourists. Here the rituality of coffee has a very important social role: the time spent in front of a cup of Expresso, Pingado or Galão is a moment of pure relaxation and conviviality.
The Portuguese drink coffee at breakfast, with snacks, after lunch and in any other moment when they feel a little peckish. After all, they are used to tasting top quality ingredients. It’s easy to see why, if we remember their historical connections with Brazil, an ex Portuguese colony, as well as the country which for more than 150 years has held the record for leading world producer of “black gold”.
How to order a coffee in Portugal?
Once you cross the threshold of one of the many Portuguese Cafés, it’s time to order. The variety of options on the menu may be dazzling and, in some cases, even disorienting, but let’s start with the basics: um Expresso or, in Lisbon, um Bica is, as you may have guessed, the classic espresso. For those who prefer a shorter more concentrated coffee you can always order an Italiana. Whereas the difference between a Cheio and a Duplo is that in the former, we are talking about a longer coffee in an espresso cup, while in the latter we are talking about a double espresso.
For anyone who wants a macchiato you can choose um Pingado, which is the Portuguese version of the Spanish or Latin American Caffè Cortado, while the Garoto is more similar to a latte macchiato, but without foam.
The coffee with liqueur can also be found here and, in Portugal, is enriched with a hint of aniseed. If you want to try it, you just need to order um Com Cheirinho.
Finally, in Portuguese coffee shops you will also find the various cappuccinos and coffees which are now well-known throughout the world.
There are , however, two typical coffee-based specialties, which you can’t not try on a trip to Portugal.
The Portuguese Galão
Let’s start with the best known specialty: the Galão. The preparation is simple: three parts foamed milk and one part coffee as in a cappuccino or a latte macchiato, but served in a glass and not a cup.
By tradition, the Galão is prepared using filter coffee, but these days many cafés also make it using espresso. In this case, however, it is important to remember to ask for um Galão de maquina or directa. A variation of the Galão is the Meia de Leite. The preparation is identical, but it is served in a cup.
The Mazagran for the summer
Another very popular coffee-based recipe in Portugal is the Mazagran. This is a drink which combines the classic flavor of the espresso with ice and lemon, an unusual mixture but perfect for handling the summer heat. The recipe is simple: in a tall, quite wide glass, full of ice cubes, you pour a shot of espresso, a shot of water, one shot of lemon juice and sweetener to taste. It is better if this is a syrup as it dissolves more easily.
The Mazagran has a very curious story behind it. In fact, it owes its name to a fortress in Algeria. Here, around the time of the mid-nineteenth century, one of the many battles took place that led to the colonization of the country by France. During the siege, the French legionnaires started consuming this drink which, once the war was over, they decided to take home. From 19th century Paris to the rest of Europe was just a short step, but it was specifically in Portugal that the Mazagran was most successful, so much so that it became well-loved and widespread today.
Have you ever been to Portugal? Tell us in the comments which type of coffee you tried there !