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Ordering Coffee in Buenos Aires

Enjoy a cup (or two) of the best café Buenos Aires has to offer

Cafe con Leche Buenos Aires

[Photo credit: WallyG’s Flickr Account [1]/ /CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 [2]]

True to Argentina’s celebrated Italian heritage, Buenos Aires boasts a rich cafe [3] culture.  Meeting friends for coffee is an central part of social life, and it’s common to find porteños conversing for hours over one cup, in hip cafes and traditional bars [4] alike.  You’ll be hard pressed to find drip coffee in BA (that’s right, forget bottomless refills!), but the espresso served here is strong enough to keep you buzzing all day long.

La Merienda: Argentine Tea Time

Ever wonder how Argentines manage to wait until 10 pm to eat dinner?  The secret may be in their fourth meal of the day: la merienda (mer-ee-end-ah).  Served between 4:30 and 8:30 pm, the merienda meal usually consists of toast (tostadas), cake (torta), or  croissants (medialunas) dipped in a coffee of choice.  Keep an eye out for special promotions, which often include two medialunas, cafe con leche, and fresh squeezed orange juice.

Coffee Ordering Guide

Though the coffee is delicious, it can be confusing to know which drink to order since the names may mean one thing in your country, something completely different in Buenos Aires.  Here’s a quick guide to ordering coffee like the locals: don’t forget to sit back, take your time, and relish every sip!

Merienda Time: A packed cafe in Buenos Aires

Coffee comes in three possible sizes: chico (chee-co) is usually one shot, un jarrito (har-reeto) about a shot and a half, and doble (doh-blay) the double shot size.  All drinks will come as chico unless otherwise noted, so be sure to add the size after ordering your drink. For example, if you want a medium espresso with just a touch of milk, order un cortado en jarrito.  If you want a big cup of black espresso, order un café doble.  For decalf version of any of the following, don’t forget to mention descafenado (dehs-cough-eh-nah-doh).

Cafe con leche with crossants Buenos Aires

Order any of these delightful combinations at Cafe La Poesia [5] in San Telmo [6], Cafe Margot [7] in Boedo [8], or any of the thousands of intriguing cafes you find along your way.

For more information on Buenos Aires coffee culture, check out this Pocket Culture Guide [9], and for more on ordering coffee including some advanced hand gestures, check out Wander Argentine’s Cafe Culture — A Guide to Ordering [10].

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5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "Ordering Coffee in Buenos Aires"

#1 Comment By annie van horn On January 11, 2013 @ 11:27 pm

Great information with good graphics (photos) to go along with all the suggestions.
Wish I had the coffee guidance on my last trip to Buenos Aires but now I want to return to enjoy more cafe culture. Thanks.

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[13] Reply:

Thanks Annie! We hope this post has compelled you to return and enjoy the city one cappuccino at a time!

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#2 Comment By Ana O’Reilly On February 5, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

Thanks for the link to PocketCultures 🙂

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[13] Reply:

No problem Ana! I enjoyed your description of cafe culture and felt it worth sharing!

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#3 Comment By Vanesa On April 14, 2016 @ 6:55 pm

Good afternoon,
We are a young Colombian-Argentine couple with coffee roots that has just opened a new coffee store in Palermo, Buenos Aires.
We learnt barism in Colombia and we offer gourmet coffee from different areas of the country and we are pleased to have this delicious drink for argentine people and foreigners.
As we understand, it is no easy to find this sort of coffee (arábica quality) in Buenos Aires, that’s why we invite you all to come and try it. You will not regret it.

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