COFFE BY ANY OTHER NAME – All you need to know about coffee


Most Portuguese will understand you if you ask for a white or black coffee. But here is what you can ask for to be sure of getting your coffee exactly how you like it.


Uma bica (pronounced beeka) or um café: 

a single measure of strong black coffee served in a very small cup, like the Italian  spresso. A bica usually half fills the cup and has a creamy golden brown head called a crema. Most Portuguese drink this with sugar.

Uma bica dupla or um café duplo: 

double the above served in a standard sized cup.

Uma bica curta or um café Italiano: 

a very strong bica with half the usual water – not for the faint hearted! Um carioca:
a bica made with half the usual amount of coffee.

Uma bica cheia or um café cheio:

(pronounce the “ch” as “sh”). A bica but topped up with hot water.

Um abatanado:

a long weak coffee in a medium cup.

Uma bica com cheirinho:

a bica with a splash of medronho or aguardente – great to warm you up in the winter! If you like your coffee with alcohol, you should try a galão with a Macieira (local brandy) stirred in.



Uma bica pingada or um café pingado:

a bica topped up with a little milk.

Um café com leite (pronounced ‘late’):

coffee with hot milk, usually a bica but sometimes a weaker brew, served in a standard sized cup. If you prefer it a bit stronger, ask for a meia de leite escuro (pronounce the “s” as “sh”).

Um galão (pronounced gal-ow to rhyme with how):

a bica mixed with hot milk served in a tall glass, usually very milky. If you like it a bit stronger, ask for a galão escuro.

Um garoto:

a small coffee served in a very small cup filled up with milk. It is usually made from the weaker, second filtration of coffee and is normally ordered for children. (Um garoto means “boy” in Portuguese.)

What will you order next time you ask for a coffee?

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