Different countries, different cultures, but they still have some common habits and customs. Since ages eating and drinking have been playing a significant role in an everyday life. Some nations celebrate tea ceremonies, as it is in Japan, other prefer coffee to tea. That is especially visible in Latin-Americans countries, in the South of Europe and in some Asian countries as Vietnam. As Portugal is one of these South European countries, the love for coffee applies to them too. Drunk with milk or plain is served the day long. Usually sugar or any other sweetener is to be added later, so to say – you get your coffee pure. What is really nice, some cafeterias serve canella powder aside so you can tune it up. An other option is to get a canella straw for drinking coffee. That is strange, but still, unique and interesting, so worth trying.
The coffee that you will find in almost all places, what means the most popular is just an expresso. Served in small cups filled till top (cheia), till ¾ (tres-quartas) or till more or less half (‘um italiano’) – just like a regular Italian ristretto. In Lisbon this coffee is called ‘um bica’, while in other regions just ‘um café’ / ‘um café duplo’ (as a double espresso) or as it is in Porto – ‘um cimbalinho'. Then you will find ‘uma carioca’, that is served in a small cup and filled till the top. It might be somehow compared to a big size ‘ristretto’ that is less strong. Staying with black coffees, you will also find sometimes ‘um café de saco’ or ‘um abatando’, which corresponds to what you know as Americano (be careful while ordering it as you might get an instant coffee – ‘um nescafe’). This Americano type coffee is not the one that a genuine Portuguese would drink. That is more for tourists that are accustomed to a regular Americano as it is called in other countries.
Let’s have now a quick look at milky coffees. Coffee with milk is mostly drunken in the morning. It is usually accompanied by a brioche or by a so loved torrada. In the milky coffee list you will find ‘um pingo’ (as it is called in the northern part of Portugal) or ’um pingado’. That are espressos with a dash of milk – usually with a cold one but sometimes you will get it warm. Then come three, the most popular Portuguese coffees with milk: ‘um garoto’, ‘um galão’, and ‘meia-de-leite’. Let’s start with ‘um garoto’. This coffee is served in a small cup. Half of the cup is filled with coffee and the second one with milk – a warm milk.
Then we have ‘um galão’. It comes in tall glasses, like we know for ‘café latte’. 75% is milk and the rest is coffee. ‘Um galão’ is a weak coffee type usually made of the coffee brewed in the second passing. A bit stronger is ‘meia-de-leite’ that is like ‘um garoto’ (half milk, half coffee) but served, as ‘um galão’, in tall glasses. ‘Meia-de-leite’ could be compared to a flat white.
For all these, that avoid a caffeine shot, ‘descafeinado’ is a solution. It comes in an espresso size cup and is filled with a decaf coffee. It is served either with milk or without.
Right now, having all that in mind, let’s have a quick summary. Below, you will find the list of all the most popular coffee types in Portugal. All divided in two sections (plus one additional for coffee with alcohol) – with milk and without. This short coffee guide might be helpful for you while ordering coffee in Portugal, so don’t forget to take it with you!