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How to Make Spanish Coffee

Spanish coffee is a bit more adventurous than a simple cup of espresso or a milky latte.  A typical Spanish coffee drink is called Carajillo and is made using coffee, brandy, whiskey, rum or anisette.  The exact origins of the drink is unknown but it is thought to have come back from the times when Spain occupied Cuba.  The troops used rum in their coffee to give them courage, hence the name which comes from the Spanish for courage ‘coraje’.

The great thing about Spanish coffee is that it can be made with a range of different spirits as well as other ingredients added to give different flavours to the drink.  A similar Italian drink is called caffe correto.

Traditional recipe

A basic recipe for Spanish coffee would be ½ ounce of Tia Maria or other coffee flavoured liqueur, ½ ounce of rum, coffee to fill the cup and whipped cream to top it with.  Build up the ingredients and add the cream to the top to finish.

Another recipe idea is to rub lemon around the rim of the glass and dip in sugar.  Warm up 1 tablespoon of brandy then add to the glass with 1 ½ ounces of Kahlua or other coffee liqueur.  Top with hot coffee and finish with whipped cream.


For a taste variation, use the sugar and lemon juice then add 1 ounce of Kahlua then ½ ounces of Grand Marnier or another orange flavoured liqueur then the coffee.  Top with whipped cream and a little grated chocolate.  This is often called a Monte Cristo coffee.

If you want a drink to make at a party and create a stir, coat a wineglass rim with sugar and pour rum into the glass.  Light the rum and gently sprinkle the flame with cinnamon, which will cause a few flares in the fire (keep fingers clear!).  Once the sugar is caramelised, add the coffee to the glass to extinguish the fire, finish with ½ ounce of Kahlua and ½ ounce of brandy then top with whipped cream.

American version

The American version of Carajillo involves heated sugar on the rim of a coffee mug then ¾ ounce of rum and ½ ounce of triple sec.  The drink is then flamed to make the sugar caramelise and 2 ounces of coffee liquor is added to douse the flame.  Finally, 3-4 ounces of coffee is added and topped with whipped cream.


If you want a Spanish coffee without the alcohol, you could go for a special roast originating from Spain called Torrefacto.  The process is actually used in France, Portugal, Costa Rica and Argentina as well as Spain and uses an amount of sugar during roasting to glaze the beans.  It started out as a cheap way to preserve the beans in the 1920s but is now a technique used for the unique flavour it gives the coffee.  It increases the acidity and the bitterness of the coffee to give an unusual taste and also increases the anti-oxidant properties of the drink.  Often, the beans are mixed with normal beans to level out the taste.

Catunambú Ground Mixed Torrefacto Coffee (8.8 oz/250 gr)

This is a pre-mixed Torrefacto coffee that features 50% the Spanish roast of coffee and 50% normal beans.  They have been vacuum packed for best taste and are ground ready for use.  It is best served as café con leche – in other words with milk.

The best way to make a café con leche is to use water that tastes good and also to heat the milk before you put it into the coffee.