B-002: Ordering Breakfast in Spain -Beginner Spanish Podcast

Spanish Breakfast

You are in Spain and about to order breakfast. Suddenly, you realize you have no clue what Spaniards eat in the morning! What are the Spanish eating habits? What exactly is a typical Spanish breakfast? And regarding the different types of coffees, you probably wonder about how to I order coffee. You know how you like coffee and how to order it that way in your country but… how exactly do you order it that way here?

I usually hear students praise the Spanish food: jamón serrano, salmorejo, paella, … I don’t know if they do it to be polite or not, but generally Spanish gastronomy is quite praised. I hope they enjoy it as much as they tell me! Hahaha. However, nobody talks about breakfast. Maybe if they have toast with Serrano ham, olive oil and tomato for breakfast, yes. But in the rest of the cases nobody praises breakfast. I once heard some British friends talking about this. They told me that for them it is insufficient because there are no sausages, no eggs, no beans and that it was something strange for them. Some even told me it does not seem to have many nutrients.
It really all depends on what you decide to put on your toast, I think. There are different options. Although, if we look for a slightly deeper explanation, it may be that, as lunch is the main meal of the day and not dinner, as it is in Anglo-Saxon culture, perhaps we don’t need to eat so much in the morning. It is also true that there are jobs where people have a second breakfast.

The thing is that all that stuff they tell me about eggs, sausages, bacon, beans, … for us is more typical of a meal for lunch than  for a breakfast.

Here I am going to show you what to choose for your toast so you don’t stay hungry, and you get the coffee exactly hoy you like 🙂

Oh, by the way, I am not sure if you know but half of Spain calls “almuerzo” to lunch, and the other half calls “comida” to lunch and “almuerzo” to a second breakfast. This is confusing when we, in the south, talk to people in many areas of the north! 

Spanish transcription and English translation



El desayuno1 es diferente dependiendo de cada país. Hoy voy a hablar del desayuno en España.

Para los españoles también es normal desayunar2 en la casa, sí, pero también es normal desayunar en los bares3 o cafeterías4.

Breakfast is different depending on the country. Today I am going to speak about breakfast in Spain.

It is normal for Spaniards to have breakfast at home, yes, but it is also normal to have it in restaurants and coffee shops.

Por ejemplo, en muchos trabajos las personas tienen permiso5 para salir de su trabajo unos minutos para desayunar en una cafetería cerca de6 su trabajo.

For instance, in many jobs, people have permission to go outside to take a breakfast break for some minutes in a coffee shop near work.

Salir a desayunar también es un acto social7 para muchas personas, especialmente los fines de semana.

Los fines de semana es normal quedar con8 amigos o familiares9 para desayunar en una cafetería.

Going out for breakfast is also a social event for many people, especially during the weekends.

It is habitual to meet up with friends or relatives to have breakfast in a coffee shop on weekends.

Para otras personas no, otras personas sólo salen a desayunar de higos a brevas10.

However, it is not that way for other people. Other people only go out for breakfast once in a blue moon.

Tipos de tostadas diferentes

Different Style Toast – What to put on your toast

¿Qué desayunamos en España? No sé si tienes información sobre esto así que vamos a empezar desde cero11.

El desayuno más estándar de España son las tostadas12 con café o algún tipo de infusión como por ejemplo té.

What do we eat for breakfast in Spain? I don’t know if you have some information about this, so I let’s start from scratch.

The most widespread breakfast in Spain is toast with coffee, or with any type of infusion, like for example tea.

El precio normalmente es de 2,50 euros a 3 euros aproximadamente, pero puede ser 4 euros o 5 euros si la cafetería está en el centro de una ciudad muy turística.

The price is usually between 2,50 euros and 3 euros approximately. However, it can be up to four or five euros if the coffee shop is in the centre of a very touristic city.

En las tostadas puedes poner varias13 cosas.

Por ejemplo, puedes usar aceite de oliva14 con diferentes cosas: aceite de oliva con tomate, aceite de oliva con tomate y jamón15, aceite de oliva y jamón york16, aceite de oliva y pavo17, …

You can put several things on the toasts.

For example, you can use olive oil with different things: olive oil and tomato, olive oil, tomato, and Spanish dark ham, olive oil and your regular smoked ham, olive oil and smoked turkey, …

Otras opciones sin aceite de oliva son: solo mantequilla18, mantequilla con mermelada, paté19 de pavo, paté de jamón york o foie gras20.

Other options with no olive oil are only butter, butter, and marmalade, turkey pâté, regular smoked ham pâté, or liver pâté.

También hay cosas más particulares como la manteca colorada21, en Andalucía decimos manteca colorá, que es un tipo de manteca de cerdo.

Si hablamos del café, puedes pedir diferentes tipos de café: café solo22, café con leche23, café cortado, café largo, leche manchada, café americano o café con hielo24.

There are also more peculiar things like red butter, in Andalusia we call it manteca colorá, which is a type of pork butter.

If we talk about coffee, you can order in different ways: café solo, café con leche, café cortado, café largo, leche manchada, café americano or café con hielo24.

Cómo pedir café en España

How to Order Coffee in Spain

Si sólo quieres café y nada de leche, tus opciones son:

Café solo, que es un café expresso o café negro, sin leche. Es pequeño.

If you only want coffee with no milk at all, your options are:

Cafe solo, which is an expresso coffee or black coffee, with no milk. It is a small one.

Café largo, que es un café solo pero más grande, con más cantidad25 de café.

Café americano, que es un café largo con más café. Si quieres mucho café, y solo café, está es tu opción.

Café largo, which is a cafe solo but bigger, with a bigger amount of coffee.

Café americano, which is a café largo with more coffee. If you want a lot of coffee, and only coffee, this is your option.

Café con hielo, que es es como un café solo pero se sirve26 con hielo, típico en los días de verano27.

Si te gusta el café con leche, tus opciones son:

Café con hielo, which is like a café solo but it is served with ice cubes. Typical coffee for summer days.

If you like coffee and milk, your options are

Café cortado, que es un café con un poco de leche, muy poca leche.

Café con leche, que tiene la misma28 cantidad de café que un café cortado pero con mucha más leche.

Café cortado, which is coffee with a bit of milk, very little milk.

Café con leche, which has the same amount of coffee than a café cortado, but with a lot more milk.

Leche manchada es un café donde tienes muy poco café y mucha leche. Es para personas que quieren más leche que café. Tiene varios nombres: leche manchada, café manchado o café con leche manchado.

¡Y ahora que sabes todo esto, ya estás listo para desayunar en España!

Leche manchada is when you have very little coffee and a lot of milk. It is for people who want more milk than coffee. It has several names: stained milk, stained coffee, or stained coffee with milk.

And now that you know all this, you are ready to eat breakfast in Spain!

Vocabulary and useful phrases

This vocabulary list gives the meaning of each word or phrase in the specific context of this podcast. Some of these words/phrases have other meanings too that are not mentioned here.

  1. Desayuno = breakfast [return]
  2. Desayunar = to eat breakfast [return]
  3. Bares = places where you can eat. In Spain you can eat in bares and in restaurantesBar does not mean a place just to drink alcohol. A bar where you can only drink, and there is no food is called bar de copas [return]
  4. Cafeterías = coffee shops. They are places where they serve coffee and breakfast, and usually coffee and a snack in the afternoon, after lunch and before dinner, our merienda. Sometimes a cafetería might have some sandwiches or some tapas for lunch, but it is more intended for desayunos and meriendas[return]
  5. Permiso = authorization, permission [return]
  6. Cerca de = near [return]
  7. Acto social = social event [return]
  8. Quedar con = to meet up with [return]
  9. Familiares = relatives [return]
  10. De higos a brevas = once in a blue moon [return]
  11. Empezar desde cero = to start from scratch [return]
  12. Tostadas = toasts [return]
  13. Varias = several [return]
  14. Aceite de oliva = olive oil [return]
  15. Jamón = jamón serrano = typical Spanish dark ham. When we just say jamón, we meant our dark Spanish ham. [return]
  16. Jamón York = regular smoked ham, not the Spanish dark ham. [return]
  17. Pavo = when talking about toasts or sandwiches, we just say pavo meaning the smoked turkey. Everybody will know you mean that specific way to prepare and eat the turkey. However, that word, pavo, means literally turkey, it does not meat smoked turkey [return]
  18. Mantequilla = butter [return]
  19. Paté = pate or pâté in French. This is originally a French word and it is used in many other coutries with the right accent marks from French, this is on â and on é [return]
  20. Foie grass = French words also for liver pate [return]
  21. Manteca colorada = red butter, it comes from pork [return]
  22. Solo = only; alone. [return]
  23. Leche = milk [return]
  24. Hielo = ice cube [return]
  25. Cantidad = amount [return]
  26. Se sirve = it is served [return]
  27. Verano = summer [return]
  28. Misma = same [return]