The Tenerife Coffee Break

Wed, May 4th, 2011 - By Linda

It was July 1997 and 6am. Our flight from Tenerife had just landed at East Midlands Airport, an hour before the car hire opened, so I’d headed in search of caffeine. I almost spat out the first mouthful! It was the normal, warmed-up dishwater I associated with coffee in England back then. Me, I loved it strong, hot and sweet, the way I drank it at home in Tenerife.

Coffee’s come a long way since then in both countries. Just a year later Starbucks opened its first London coffee house, so far as the UK goes, the rest is history. Here in Tenerife, we’re still waiting. You have to understand that Tenerife comes at it from a different perspective – even in Playa de las Américas or Los Cristianos you can get a decent cup of coffee, what we don’t have here is the variety.

Call into any local bar a little before 9am and you’ll find workers setting themselves up for the day with a café solo (expresso), small, hot, strong and usually taken as sweet as it comes. If you prefer it white you have a choice of café con leche (which can vary considerably from bar to bar) or that Spanish speciality the cortado, served in a small expresso-sized glass, and still strong. Ask for cortado leche leche then you get it with a layer of thick, sweet condensed milk lurking at the bottom.

The luxury version of cortado leche leche comes with the addition of a liqueur called 43, as sweet and sickly as the condensada, so stand by for the sugar rush! The coffee in the picture I enjoyed in a bar in La Caleta in Costa Adeje, and confess I’m not sure what every layer was, nor how many calories, but it was divine!

The exotic layering of the baraquito, as the cortado with liqueur is called, is something new, a nod in the direction of the current fashion in coffee drinking which has finally arrived on the island. It’s only in recent months that we have been able to fit our beverage to our mood. Cappuccino resembling a work of art, like the swirly one I had the other morning in Las Galletas near Costa del Silencio, is more common. In one of my favourite beachside cafés in El Médano I can enjoy a lush iced coffee when the temperature rises.

In the same café I’ve had macchiato; in the airport the other day I had a latte, and even in the quaint courtyard of a rural hotel in San Miguel de Abona, the large café con leche I ordered came in a stylish mug and really was more akin to latte.

Times they are a-changing but be warned, if you go for the “authentic” Canarian dining experience you will probably still be limited to solo, café con leche or cortado. After a hard day sightseeing not too long ago, I stopped in the pretty church square in Candeleria where I asked if they did cappuccino and being told “yes”, I ordered. Let me just say that it took me right back to that early morning in East Midlands airport! So if you want a more modern coffee, stick to the more touristy places, or the cosmopolitan streets of Santa Cruz.

Posted : Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 at 8:13 am
Category : food and drink
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2 Responses to “The Tenerife Coffee Break”

  1. […] Restaurante La Caleta whose lemon sole is out of this world and where affable waiter, Nelson, makes baraquitos to die […]

  2. […] of coffee and tortilla, we head north, along the TF5 to the clearly marked exit to Teide National Park. As we […]

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