As the coffee has a really important part in Portuguese culture and daily life, I felt the temptation to write about it from the beginning of my project.
I usually drink coffee with milk here. Although I recently discovered the word ‘abatanado‘, which, I have to admit, was very satisfying. In my country, coffee is a way of a continuous ritual. We buy a big cup of coffee (the bigger, the better), enjoy it while crossing the main streets of the city, sitting in a cafe while preparing our course works, drinking slowly sip by sip while meeting with an old friend and gossiping about the world. I have never seen my father drinking coffee in my entire life, but for my mom, it is must- to-do morning ritual with a small cup of weak coffee (Portuguese would consider it not a coffee and for sure not a small cup). Although I am trying to avoid dairy, throughout the day we all go and order coffee as an away of a habit. Always a big cup, always with milk.
If you are Portuguese, I can already imagine your widely open eyes and goosebumps on your hands. You do not understand me.
To be honest, I did not understand you either.
It is said that Eskimo has more than 40 different words to describe the snow. They can differentiate between different shadows, a way of snowing and so on. When I came to Portugal, coffee was a mystery for me. I just could not get it. All the coffee was either expresso or coffee with milk (really strange small cup of a suspicious amount of milk). But as I was staying here longer, I realized that it is not so simple. In contrary, there is a whole different world of coffee here.
The short guide for foreigner in Portugal:
Um café (espresso). A small cup of few sips of super strong coffee which made my head spinning around and heartbeats crazy when I tried it for the very first times. It was the first times in my life when I tried espresso; probably the last ones either.
Um pingo (pingado). Basically, the same espresso but with few drops of milk. I am not even sure if I ever tried it, as I was feeling quite convinced, after my first acquaintances with espresso, that it is really not my type of coffee.
Uma meia de leite. Coffee with milk. Although I was quite confused about the smallness of the amount, as it is so unusual in Lithuania, I was still happy to discover it. Even more, I eventually learnt to say ‘meia de leite’, even though the waitress does not understand me usually. The sky is for the most determined ones.
Um abatanado. It is my most favourite one so far; expresso with a bigger amount of water. I like that I found the middle ground of coffee that does not give my heart desperate beats, but at the same time is without milk. Personally, I would prefer the even bigger amount of water. Oh well, nothing can be fully perfect.
Um galão. Cup with 2/3 of milk. While I really like the serving of a tall glass and that long lovely spoon, I do not like such a big amount of milk; even for me, it tastes like drinking warm milk but not coffee. And, to be very precise and repetitive, I am not the biggest fan of milk. 😀
Um café longo. People say that the name comes from the fact that supposedly there is more liquid inside than in normal expresso and it is for the longer use. I was repeatedly looking, from the cup to the person who said this to me, for a couple of minutes. With my untrained eyes, it looked like the same expresso.
If I try to write the guide for Portuguese in Lithuania, the list would be slightly different. Instead of cups of instant expresso, we prefer more cheerful names, like Cappucino, Café Americano, Macchiato, Café with milk (usually meaning quite a big amount of both, coffee and milk). As mentioned before, we also love to take coffee away. You can usually choose which size of coffee you may like to take: small, medium or large.
And yes. Nobody drinks expresso.
Finally, long ago I stopped wondering why my Portuguese friends ask for expresso. However, every time I am in café, I still curiously looking around trying to weight the amount of those small cups. I have a theory, that if I go and ask people in the cafe, if they are tourists 95 percent of the cases I would be right. The reason? Only tourists drink anything except expresso.
After all, I love the way Portuguese ‘do‘ coffee drinking. Those little cups across the tables during lunchtime, the mood of complete stop and chill moment. In Lithuania, we drink coffee when we are busy when we are full of life. Coffee does not give us a break; coffee is a part of our rush. Here coffee is a moment to enjoy your pastel de Nata or a great variety of different one-bite sweets. Honestly, I would prefer this way of coffee with the amount of my own coffee.
Long life for globalization!
And long life for the world, in which we do not need to change our own culture, in order to respect and accept a different one.