LifestyleLocal Lingo

Order your perfect coffee in La Línea

How to go above and beyond a "cafe con leche, por favor"

Going out for coffee with friends is a staple of Mediterranean culture. Don’t get your manchados mixed up with your cafe cortados – read this handy guide to local coffee lingo and you’ll become the king of the cafe.

Café Solo

It’s just a coffee!


The familiar, now-international name for a black coffee, just with a little more water.

Café con Leche

Coffee with hot milk, at about a 50:50 ratio.

Bonus word: Templado

Ask for a café con leche templado (templado = warm) to get coffee with cold milk instead, resulting in an instantly drinkable café con leche.


‘Stained’. Also known as ‘leche manchada’ – literally ‘milk stained’ … with coffee. This one confuses the Italians, because their café macchiato (the literal translation of cafe manchado), is the polar opposite of a leche manchada. For café macchiato see cortado. Confused yet?


Translation: Cut (past tense). This is an espresso with just a splash of hot milk, similar to an Italian café macchiato. There are two theories as to why this drink is called “cut”:

  1. The milk is being used to dilute (or cut) the coffee
  2. The white milk cuts through the intense black coffee.

Neither of these theories will necessarily help you remember what the hell it is, though. Good luck!

Café con Hielo

It’s a bit of a gamble over what you’re going to get if you order a café con hielo, but chances are you’ll be presented with a cup of normal hot black coffee, with a glass of ice on the side to add ‘a tu gusto’.


Or deh’cafay’nao if you want to apply the local accent. Self-explanatory decaf coffee. If you’re feeling bold, why not mix it up and ask for a “descafeinado con leche”?

Café Bombón

Into the world of specialist Spanish coffees we go! This diabetes-inducing creation originated in Valencia, and consists of espresso and leche condensada (condensed milk) in equal parts. It is illegal to serve this drink in anything but a glass mug, so you can enjoy the visual effect of the separate layers.


Irish coffee. Bit of folk etymology for you here – legend has it that the word originated in Cuba, at the time when Cuba was a Spanish territory. Rum was added to coffee to give the troops coraje (courage) which became corajillo (a little courage) and later adapted to carajillo. And if you un-little the word carajillo, you get carajo, which is a swear word meaning penis.


Language enthusiast, dog walker, owner of too many Instagram accounts: @lalineadogwalks - - @doggo.iberico - @gibdevs

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