"A Carioca" near Praça Luis de Camoes

Coffee selection at " A Carioca" in Lisbon

There an old saying, "never drink coffee at lunch. It will keep you awake all afternoon," and on my walk home today I was reminded of this quote and of what I miss most whenever I leave this Luso-Iberian capital. Coffee! I know there are lots of places around the world with good coffee, like Italy where "baristas" traffic in a weird currency somewhere between artistry and methamphetamine dealer and there are lots of places with bad coffee, like England , where I think it is less a caffeinated product than just toasted milk. But, something about having an unpretentious, brain awakening , not too hot nor too cold cup of coffee here in Lisbon always comforts me. In Portugal coffee is a part of everything. So much so, I often wonder what deadly chaos the country would careen towards if the magic bean were to suddenly disappear. If you are Portuguese then your average caffeine intake is about 3 cups a day. Waking up, mid morning break, after a meal, after work and socializing with friends all present themselves as a perfect occasion for imbibing. Good coffee is everywhere in Portugal, it makes it way here via Sao Tome, Timor and Brazil amoung others which at one point in time were Portuguese colonies and still enjoy thriving trade today. Every cafe, snack bar, restaurant and even cinemas have an espresso machine, so a fix is never more than 10 meters out of ordering reach. Like any good drug, to order it correctly you need the proper vocabulary. Below is a list of ways to order and if used correctly will instantly give you street cred or at least an elevated heartbeat.

  • Bica: Espresso shot
  • Café Pingado: A dripped coffee, served in a glass with a hint of milk.
  • Meia de Leite: Half milk and half coffee
  • Galao:A Café Longo with the ratio of 1:3 milk in it. It can be foamed and/or steamed.
  • Garoto: Garoto also means "kid" and this drink is mostly milk and a favorite for children(I know that sounds crazy) It is made like a Galao but the coffee has been run through twice on the espresso machine and is weaker.