A normal coffee in Portugal is strong and served plain, in small cups

A normal coffee in Portugal is strong and served plain, in small cups

Portugal is known for its coffee, after try one you Will know what we mean. It usually comes in small cups but if you want yours with milk ask for a “Meia de leite” or “Garoto”, which translates to call “a child”.

Old "A Brasileira" coffee publicity

Old "A Brasileira" coffee publicity

One one the first sites where coffee was served in Lisbon was “A Brasileira”, one of the places you must visit. In order to promote this exquisite new drink that came from Brazil, a former Portuguese colony, there was a sign in which was written “Beba Isto Com Açúcar” which could be translated to “drink this with sugar”. You could easily imagine that the bitter taste of the new drink was too distinct for the new Portuguese palates. Because of that, sign until today you can order a coffee by asking for a “BICA” (Beba Isto Com Açúcar).

For instance in the Porto, the second most important Portuguese city, you can order a coffee by asking for a “Cimbalino”, which comes from a very popular coffee machine brand from that time, to today.

How to ask for a coffee? What coffee types?
Expresso, Café, Bica: A Strong coffee served in a small cup (fill at 3/4 of the cup)
Cheia:  A Strong coffee served in a small cup (full cup)
Carioca:  A weaker coffee than the Expresso, sometimes the Carioca is made from the coffee used in a Expresso (the coffee is used only for one time).
Meia de Leite:  Special for Breakfast. Half milk and half coffe.
Galão or Café com Leite:  Special for Breakfast, this is basically a Expresso with milk in a mug.
Abatanado: A large coffee (double or triple size of a coffee cup)
Descafeinado:  Decaffeinated coffee.

Common brands of coffee in Lisbon and in Portugal include:

  • Delta
  • Nicola
  • Sical
  • Tofa

Last tip, the coffee always comes with sugar on the side and rarely with a treat (like chocolate or candy). If you can’t have sugar ask for “adoçante”.