In Portugal, coffee culture is ingrained in everyday life. The average Portuguese adult drinks at least two espresso coffees a day, so no wonder that wherever you go in Portugal, whether in an urban setting or rural area, you’ll see locals gathering at cafés to attend both to their caffeine habits and to socialize. Portuguese coffee culture brings people together; Vamos tomar um café (let’s go for a coffee) is a Portuguese tradition.
During the 18th century the Portuguese were crucial actors in expanding the coffee industry into what it is today. Portuguese colonists introduced the coffee plant to Brazil and later to other former colonies in Africa. At first, coffee in Portugal was a luxury that only a few could afford, but during the second half of the 18th century, the first public cafés started opening in Lisbon, forever changing the coffee habits of the Portuguese. Some of the very first cafés that were ever established there, such as Martinho da Arcada or A Brasileira, are still open and can be visited to reminisce about the old days.
Throughout Portugal, you can find these charming, historical, and well-preserved cafés. Many of them have played host to the intellectual gatherings of countless public figures in the past, and nowadays are still meeting places where people of all ages can enjoy reading a book, exchanging ideas, and calmly savoring some delicacy.
Irresistible confectionery and quality service are guaranteed, so keep note of the following cafés for when you visit us: Café Vianna, in Braga; Café Santa Cruz, in Coimbra; Café Majestic, in Porto; A Brasileira, Café Nicola, Café Martinho da Arcada, Fábrica dos Pastéis de Belém, Confeitaria Nacional, and Pastelaria Versailles, in Lisbon, or the Café Arcada, in Évora, among others.
- Portugal is home to a few peculiar and charming expressions of different coffees as well, so here are some tips to help you order a coffee properly:
If you love your coffee plain and black, these are the terms you should know: regular espresso goes by café” or bica. In Lisbon and Porto it’s called cimbalino. The endearing term café curto is a shorter espresso shot, while café cheio means you want it filled to the top; an abatanado is usually a less concentrated espresso that comes in a larger cup with a bit of water, and a duplo is a double espresso shot.
- Do you like your coffee with milk? Then, these are the options: pingado (an espresso shot with a few drops of milk); garoto (just a little bit of coffee with some milk in a small espresso cup); meia de leite (half milk and half coffee served in a large cup); and galão (essentially the same measures as a galão but served in a tall glass).
These are just a small selection of the coffees available, but whichever you choose, it wouldn’t be the same without the pastry of choice for the locals – a pastel de nata, a type of egg custard tart…yummy!