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Café

November 5, 2011

Ok. I’ll admit it. I’m addicted to café con leche (coffee with milk). It all started with the jetlag, over two months ago. The 6 hour time difference and 10+ hours travel time was enough to merit coffee in order to stay awake, and my host parents offered it at breakfast. But then they kept offering it. And I kept drinking it. And then classes started, and I started drinking it between classes as well. So now, I’m hooked, and there’s no going back.

For those of you who don’t know, the coffee in Spain is not like coffee in the US. They don’t use filters and medium-ground drip coffee. No, here, coffee is actually a shot of espresso. I used to think I liked drinking strong coffee black, but that was back when I thought Starbucks was strong. So, here, I drink it with milk. Which is all good because most people here drink it with milk too.

The cool thing about the coffee here is that there aren’t as many options. You can’t order a venti double shot soy caramel macchiato with two pumps of raspberry and extra whip. (Unless you go to Starbucks… they do have them here) Usually cafés offer plain coffee, coffee with condensed milk, coffee with milk, lattes, and cappuccinos. And that’s about it. And they don’t offer large sizes either. Believe me, this coffee is concentrated enough that you don’t want a venti of it. But even if you did, you wouldn’t be able to find it anywhere (besides Starbucks).

Another thing is that they don’t drink coffee on the go. Sure, you can get it to-go at most places, but you just don’t see people walking down the street sipping a coffee (unless they’re tourists…drinking Starbucks). It’s all about enjoying the coffee, savoring it. Some places even give you a free piece of chocolate or free small pastries to eat with it.

Here, it’s less about having a complicated favorite coffee drink with the perfect combination of flavors, and more about enjoying the simplicity of strong coffee coupled with the smooth texture of milk and the sweetness of a bit of sugar. And while I love Starbucks as much as the next guy when I’m in the US (actually probably a bit more than the next guy), it’s not the way they do it here.

P.S. The original point of this blog entry (before I got off on this long tangent about coffee consistencies and tastes) was to talk about my new favorite hangout spot. My friend recently showed me this really cool café close to the University, and I’ve fallen in love with it. It’s a cool atmosphere of college students, couches, art, and music. Kind of reminds me of a blend of two of my favorite coffee shops in the US, except better, because it’s in Spain. Everything’s better when it’s in Spain.

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