There is a procedure to ordering coffee in Buenos Aires – part explicit, part understood.
While living in San Cristobal, our favorite hangout was La Helvetica, a top-of-the-line café and confiteria. There, and with the help of some Porteño friends, we received our B.A. coffee education.
With one week left before a move to Las Cañitas, we decided to compile a list of the variations of coffee that are ubiquitous in all cafes around the city. In our efforts to assist fellow travelers, we put in our due diligence and helped ourselves to a different type of coffee every day this past week.
Most Porteños know what they want as soon as they sit down. As a result, menus aren’t usually offered, you have to request them (“Podrías traerme la carta?”). While extensive, it doesn’t offer much in the way of descriptions or sizes. Here’s some information the menu doesn’t include, which we found helpful:
First, the sizes (left to right):
Chico – small, popular for afternoon or evening drinks
Jarrito – probably the most popular size
Doble – double the pleasure (of the chico)
Café con leche – An odd name for a size, but only café con leche (or crema) drinks are served in this cup.
Cappucino – Similar to the café con leche, only cappuccino is served in this cup – although you’ll see many places get creative with the sizing and style of this drink.
The glasses in the back don’t have names that we know of. They are used to serve specialty drinks like the submarino listed below.
Next, the drinks:
Café – Espresso, straight-up. (Comes in chico, jarrito, and doble)
Cortado – ¾ espresso ¼ milk. Means, “cut with milk.” (Comes in chico, jarrito, doble)
Café con leche – ½ espresso ½ milk. (Comes in one size)
Café con crema – ½ espresso ½ cream. (Comes in jarrito and café con leche)
Lágrima – 1/10 “a tear” espresso 9/10 milk. (Comes in chico, jarrito, doble)
Cappucino – espresso, cream, milk, and cinnamon (Comes in one size)
Submarino – milk, chocolate on the side – a Porteño hot chocolate, genius! (Comes in one size)
If we’ve left anything out, please let us know about it here.