Barcelona Feature

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Ground Rules for Coffee

Coffee culture in Barcelona has certain linguistic peculiarities. A normal espresso, black coffee, is simply un café. Try saying café solo, Madrid-style, and observe the looks you get. A tallat, from the verb, in Catalan, tallar (to cut) is coffee with just a little milk (café cortado in the rest of Spain). For the best-tasting coffee, nearly rivaling the aroma of fresh-ground coffee beans, order the café corto, a true espresso with less liquid and more taste. Café amb llet is Catalan for café con leche or coffee with milk.

If you really want to see the waiter's eyes glaze over, order a café descafeinado de maquina con leche desnatada natural (decaffeinated coffee made in the espresso machine with skimmed milk applied at room temperature).

And a word of warning for those who prefer their java on the run: coffee is still, for the most part, a sit-down or belly-up-to-the-bar affair. So take time to stop and smell the fresh roast.

Updated: 09-2013

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