Want to see Portugal? Here are some tips for travelers on how to enjoy it
Benagil sea caves emergency can lead to opportunities to see more of Portugal

A Simple Guide to Portuguese Coffee

Portugal has a vibrant coffee culture that reflects its overseas history and love for socializing in cafés. Coffee is an integral part of daily life, and understanding the different types of coffee and the customs surrounding it is essential for an authentic Portuguese experience. Please, don't ask for Italian coffees, or seek foam. Learn to love the Portuguse world of coffee. Here's a guide to help you navigate the tasty world of Portuguese coffee:

The Types of Coffee:

  • A Café: This is the Portuguese equivalent of an espresso. Called a bica in Lisbon. It's a strong and flavorful shot of coffee, usually served in a small cup. It's the most common type of coffee you'll find in Portugal, and many locals start their day with a café - it is strong flavorful and has a hint of sweetness.

  • Galão: If you prefer a milder coffee with milk, try a galão. It's similar to a latte, with a 1:3 ratio of espresso to milk. It's often served in a tall glass, and enjoyed in the morning.

  • Café Pingado: This is a bica "stained" or "spotted" with a drop of milk. It's a compromise between a bica and a galão, giving you a touch of milk without diluting the coffee too much.

  • Carioca: If you're looking for something milder, ask for a carioca. It's a larger coffee with more water, similar to an Americano.

  • Meia de Leite: This is another popular milk-based coffee, similar to a latte or a café au lait. It has equal parts of espresso and milk.

Delta Cafés is a well-known Portuguese coffee brand, recognized for its high-quality products and strong presence in the country's coffee culture. Founded in 1961, Delta Cafés has grown to become one of Portugal's leading coffee companies, offering a wide range of coffee products and establishing a strong connection with the Portuguese people. They are based in Campo Maior, where they have a coffee museum.


Where to Enjoy Coffee:

  • Cafés: Traditional cafes are the heart of Portuguese coffee culture. These local spots offer a cozy atmosphere where you can enjoy your coffee while chatting with friends or reading the newspaper. Many cafes also serve pastries like pastéis de nata, which pair perfectly with coffee. Or be bold and try a coffee and a brandy - called a cheirinho.

  • Pastelarias: These are pastry shops where you can enjoy delicious Portuguese pastries alongside your coffee. They're great places to have a leisurely breakfast. Cechk out the local specialities - every city has them!


Coffee Etiquette:

  • Stand-up Culture: In many cafes, especially in Lisbon, it's common to drink your coffee quickly while standing at the counter. This is known as the "bica culture." But in the country, get a table and enjoy!

  • Payment: In some cafes, you may need to pay first at the cashier before ordering your coffee at the counter. But most ask after you have had the coffee - and leave a few cents to say thank you if there is table service.

  • Politeness: It's customary to greet the café staff when entering and leaving. A simple "Bom dia" (good morning), "Boa tarde" (good afternoon), and an "Obrigado/a" (thank you) goes a long way.

  • Time of Day: Pay attention to the time of day when ordering certain types of coffee. Locals usually have stronger coffees like bicas in the morning and may opt for milder options in the afternoon or evening. Some have 5-6 per day!

  • No To-Go Cups: Unlike some other countries, it's not common to get your coffee in a to-go cup in Portugal. Enjoying your coffee in the café or pastelaria is part of the experience. Coffee is not on the go.

Coffee and Conversation:

Coffee in Portugal is not just about the drink; it's about socializing and enjoying the moment. It's a common practice to meet friends or colleagues for a coffee break and engage in conversation. This social aspect is an essential part of Portuguese coffee culture.

Local Variations:

Keep in mind that coffee preferences and customs may vary slightly from region to region in Portugal. While the core types of coffee remain the same, you might find some local specialties or variations that are unique to certain areas. A chinesa is a media-de-leite on Madeira. A cimbalino is a coffee in Porto.

By following this guide, you'll be well-prepared to dive into the delightful world of Portuguese coffee, savoring the flavors, embracing the culture, and enjoying the warmth of this beloved tradition. Enjoy!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)