How to order coffee

We all laughed when we listened to Ana Botella’s speech in 2013 defending Madrid’s bid for the 2020 Olympics.

Times magazine even mocked this famous gaffe and included it in the «The Year in Mayors’ Gaffes» list.


Even though the most «celebrated» part of that speech was her famous «cup of café con leche in Plaza Mayor», the truth is that asking for a coffee in the British Isles or the States can be, in fact, an arduous task.

Do you remember this scene?

The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.

As You’ve Got Mail explains here, ordering coffee has become, thanks to coffee chains like Starbucks, extremely difficult, as there is a wide range of options you can -and have to- choose when asking for your daily cup of coffee on your way to work.

There are many innocent travelers who, overwhelmed by the crowds of Picadilly Circus, choose to enter a café and relax a little bit with «a relaxing cup of café con leche». But it’s all a trap: they end up stuck at the front of the queue facing a never ending list of options, while the londoners waiting for their turn get madder and madder.

You cannot blame them. We all hate queues:


It’s not only us who have problems ordering coffee. Italians are definitely not on good terms with these coffee chains either. Do you remember this scene from The Sopranos?

[Pussy and Paulie are in a coffee shop franchise]

Paulie: Fuckin’ Italian people. How did we miss out on this?

Pussy: What?

Paulie: Fuckin’ expresso, cappuccino. We invented this shit and all these other cocksuckers are gettin’ rich off it.

Pussy: Yeah, isn’t it amazing?

Paulie: And it’s not just the money. It’s a pride thing. All our food: pizza, calzone, buffalo moozarell’, olive oil. These fucks had nothin’. They ate pootsie before we gave them the gift of our cuisine. But this, this is the worst. This expresso shit.

Pussy: Take it easy.



So, your craving for caffeine is too strong to bear, and you finally decide to enter one of these places. How do we survive then? Is it possible to enter a café and get what you really want to drink with flying colours? How do we order «a cup of café con leche» succesfully?  Follow these steps and you will never face these problems again.

  • Do you want your coffee hot or cold?
  • Choose the size: small, medium or large ( tall, grande or venti, if you are at Starbucks)
  • Do you want it sugar-free? Would you like to add a syrup flavour?
  • Do you want decaffeinated coffee? Then choose decaf.
  • Do you want milk? Specify it: whole milk, semi skimmed (half cream or low-fat) , skimmed (nonfat), lactose free. You can even find soymilk, almond milk or coconut milk in some coffee chains.
  • Time to choose the proportions. Here is a guideline:
    • Espresso: One single shot of espresso.
    • Doppio: Double shot of espresso.
    • Americano: One shot of espresso with additional hot water
    • Espresso macchiato: One shot of espresso with a little bit of steamed milk
    • Flat white: One shot of espresso with a little bit of steamed milk foam (similar to a capuccino but with less milk)
    • Cappucino: One shot of espresso with steamed milk foam.
    • Latte: One shot of espresso with warm milk. (Similar to our «café con leche»)



Here is an instructional video:

For all those who prefer tea, frapuccinos, chai latte and so on, there will be another post soon.

Are you ready now for your daily cup of  «café con leche»? Would you dare to ask it correctly?

Tell us your experiences. We’re looking forward to it.







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