How to order coffee in Portugal?

The Portuguese believe they have the best coffee in the world. And, frankly? They may have a point. And not just any single coffee, as Portugal has a great variety of coffees that they offer. Would you like to order some but you’re not quite an expert yet? Don’t worry, we’ll guide you.


Where to get a coffee?

In Portugal, cafes are pretty much around every corner. The Portuguese people start their days with a cup of coffee and end it the same way. Coffee is usually not drunk alongside a meal, but rather afterwards. You may think this doesn’t apply to desserts, like Pasteis de Nata, but even then you’ll get your pastry first and a cup of coffee after you’ve eaten it. So don’t freak out if they don’t hand it out to you, they didn’t forget.


How do you order black coffee without milk in Portugal?

To order any coffee, you can ask: “Cafe, se faz favor!” And what do you get? In Porto, you’ll get an espresso-like cimbalino, while in Lisbon, a bica. Legend has it that the bica takes its name from the cafe “A Brasileira”, which was the first to serve ‘a bica’. The owners, having seen that people are a bit confused as to why it’s so bitter, decided to put up a sign in the street which said: “Beba Isto Com the Cucar,” meaning ‘this is drunk with sugar’.

Though that’s obviously not all you can get in regards to black coffees in Portugal. You can ask for:

  • curto – this is a stronger espresso
  • cheio – espresso with water (almost a full cup)
  • carioca – weaker espresso
  • abatanado – americano-esque in a large cup

On top of that, the waiter may ask if you want your coffee in a hot or cold cup, with less water, with more water, in a larger cup or a smaller cup … the options are really quite numerous. They’ll also understand standard Americano, for instance.


How do you order coffee with milk?

Here, too, we have quite a wide array of choices. Galão is your latte-esque equivalent. Meia de Leite is a coffee with milk in a 1:1 ratio, served in a tall glass. Garoto (in the south) or Pingo (in the north) is a small cup with milk foam, while pingado contains a little bit of cold milk in it. In addition to the typical Portuguese types, you can order the well-known cappuccino, macchiato or latte.


How much does coffee cost in Portugal?

For most of the ordinary small black coffees, you’ll pay, at most, €1. Of course, we mean in an average place. An espresso in Porto’s most famous café, Café Majestic, costs €5, and around €2 in Lisbon’s ‘A Brasileira’.


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