Coffee drinking is a serious business in Portugal. There’s no way you can come here and not have to order a coffee at some point, so here is some essential information.
These are general guidelines. No two cups of coffee will ever be identical no matter what words you use. Relax, it’s just a drink.
I’m sorry, tugas. I apologise, it’s just a sacred drink. Please go easy on me, I’m just a beginner, a humble student if you please. And please if you have some corrections, additions or some anecdotal contribution to make, be my guest.
The most popular coffee is an espresso. In Lisbon you would order um bica (oong beekuh) and in Porto um cimbalinho (oong simbalEENyo). Elsewhere um café (oong kaFEY).
There are infinite variations on how it comes, so don’t be shy about being specific about your needs. Cheia (shayuh) is a full espresso cup, tres- quartas (tresh kwartas) 3/4 full, a ristretto is called um italiano (small, strong, the first few seconds of the machine’s coffee). You could ask for it não quente (nowng kent; not hot;) and they’ll put a dash of cold water in it for you.
In this pic (below) there is um italiano (top), um bica (right) and um cortado (left). In Portugal a cortado is a standard measure from the ‘small cup’ button on the machine, not to be confused with a spanish cortado (cut with milk, see below).
Staying with the small cup theme, your poison may be um pingo (oong pingoo) also called um pingado (oong pingardoo); an espresso with a drop of milk (sometimes hot milk, sometimes not). Um garoto (below, left) has more milk; about 50/50 coffee-to-milk ratio but still in a small cup. In Spain this is known as a corto or a cortado. In Australia it’s a piccolo caffe latte. Uma carioca (below, right) is the opposite of a ristretto – a full small cup minus the strongest first two seconds of an espresso.
For a long black, or a large black coffee, you would order um abatanado. This could be also called um café americano, but ordering an americano may get you an instant coffee in some places. If that’s what you want then order um nescafe. If you’d like a double espresso, order um café duplo (oong kafEY DOOploo)
Going the milky way, um galão (oong galowng) is served in a tall glass and is about 3/4 milk. Traditionally a galão is made with a second passing of coffee from the machine and is very weak. If you want something more like a caffe latte than coffee flavoured milk, order a um galão directo (deeretoo). You can also ask for a dark one escuro (eshkooroo) or a light one claro (klaroo). Ordering a galão after midday will provoke funny looks, unless you’re over 80. It’s either for breakfast or it’s a nanna’s drink. You might save face by ordering uma meia de leite (maya de late) which is half milk in a regular cup, like a flat white in Australia. But like my half-Australian buddy, you could try ordering a layer de mate, mate 🙂