COFFEE . . . THE SECRETS
& COOKING ARTICLE
Spanish love their coffee and it is as much a part of
everyday life as tapas or wine. A normal day for any
typical Spaniard will always begin with a coffee served
with hot milk. Similarly the day ends after the evening
meal with a strong espresso style coffee served in a
tiny glass or cup with lots of sugar. Throughout the
day more cups will be consumed served in a variety of
different ways in a range of different sized glasses
countries can equal the variety and quality of the Spanish
coffee and the secret to this is primarily in the bean.
Spanish coffee is roasted and blended in a unique way
resulting in a robust, smooth, full bodied cup every
quality raw beans are always used and the two main blends
produced are natural and mezcla, the latter
being the hallmark of Spanish coffee. Mezcla blends
are a result of the 'torrefacto' process which
means that a small proportion of the raw beans, usually
about 20% - 30% are 'sugar sprayed' with a fine mist
of sugar before roasting. The glazed beans are then
added to the other beans and slowly roasted where the
sugar is burnt off leaving a dark roasted bean with
a hint of caramel to create a deep rich coffee without
any hint of bitterness. The beans are then used whole,
or ground exceptionally fine as is always the case with
Spanish ground coffees.
the beans are roasted and ground there are a variety
of different blends to choose from for use in the home
ranging from 20/80% torrefacto / natural blends, to
50/50% and 100% blends, each with their own unique taste.
roasting of the beans and the blending is only just
the beginning however. There is no better way to experience
the true beauty of Spanish coffee than to sit a while
in a traditional Spanish bar, take in the atmosphere,
experience the aromas and try a real cup of Spanish
coffee for yourself which is always freshly made and
is the social institution of coffee drinking in Spain,
you can almost never go into a bar and ask for only
a coffee as there are so many ways to drink it and each
serving seems to have a style of glass all on its own.
solo is the basis for all Spanish coffees. It is
a small strong black coffee served in a small glass,
popular at around 11am when workers come into bars for
the main breakfast of the day.
you like black coffee and feel the solo may be
a bit too strong, then try a café Americano
which although not traditionally Spanish, is similar
to a café solo but served in a larger glass or
cup with a bit more water.
con leche is the next most popular way to drink
coffee, especially as the first cup of the day. It is
half café solo and half hot milk and can be served
in a small glass or a tall thin glass.
best thing about having coffee this way is watching
them make it in Spanish bars where the milk is poured
into a small metal jug and rapidly heated to a lovely
froth with the steam from the espresso machine.
variation on the coffee with milk is a café
cortado, in this case a strong black coffee with
only a drop of milk.
sombra or manchado is also coffee with milk
but this time largely milk with only a dash of coffee.
The names sombra and manchado mean shade
and stained respectively and signifies the milk is shaded
or stained with only a small amount of coffee.
truly delightful Spanish coffee is the café
carajillo and if you watch it being served correctly,
it is a pleasure in itself.
very small glass is used and into it goes a dash of
brandy with a small glass of café solo waiting.
The bartender then sets fire to the brandy and with
a teaspoon, spoons the brandy slowly up out of the glass
before letting it drop back down again and this is repeated
for a minute or so. When the alcohol has sufficiently
burned off, the café solo is poured into the
glass resulting in a perfect morning tipple especially
on cold days.
more rustic variety of this is regularly seen most mornings
in bars where a café solo is served with a dash
of brandy, aniseed, rum or whisky and more fashionably,
Baileys, Crema Catalana or a cream rum liqueur.
is, however nothing quite like a proper café
carajillo which must be tried at least once in your
those with a sweet tooth there is a type of café
con leche called a café bombon which is
a small glass of condensed milk into which a café
solo is slowly poured. The drink remains separated half
black and half white until it is mixed, lovely to look
at and deliciously satisfying but not so good for the
the summer months there is of course the iced coffee
or café con hielo. The proper way to drink
this is to have a café solo or café con
leche whichever you prefer, and a tall glass filled
with ice cubes on the side. You should pour your coffee
over the ice to drink it the Spanish way.
me the true beauty of Spanish coffee is that whichever
way you drink it at whatever time of the day, you are
always guaranteed to experience a great cup of coffee.
It is not important where you drink your coffee, indeed
the most rustic and world worn Spanish bars will often
serve the best coffee. Coffee is part of the fabric
of life in Spain and everyone from the poorest farmer
to the wealthiest land owners have a right to enjoy
a good quality coffee at a reasonable price and so do
you and I!
and written by Gayle Hartley
Copyright 2007 Orce Serrano Hams - www.orceserranohams.com
20 September 2007
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