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Life in Portugal: A story of four coffees

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For those who have visited Portugal before, you will appreciate the role coffee has in our lifestyle and culture. Perhaps you have been here looking for houses for sale in the Algarve or an apartment for sale in Lisbon or visited searching for a property for sale in Silver Coast Portugal, you would have noticed, that no matter where you are, there is almost always a café in every village. Coffee here is important and delicious, so where and when you and I decide to have our coffee, or more accurately, coffees, really matters. 

I am sure we can agree it is the simple things that matter sometimes, so allow me to share my options with you and judge for yourself where and when I should be having my coffees of the day. For the purposes of this I have tried to narrow it down to 4 coffees. 

 

Coffee #1

In Portugal, it is quite common for the first coffee of the day to be one with milk (‘meia de leite’ or ‘galão’) or a large black coffee (‘abatanado’). One of these is usually had with some toast, or a toasted cheese and ham or a delicious pastry of which there are many varieties. My morning involves a lovely walk through the village with my baby boy tucked away in his pram. Our local café opens nice and early so coffee number one is an easy option. In Portugal, if you want to avoid some strange looks, it is perfectly normal to greet everyone seated in the café with a friendly and reasonably loud ‘bom dia’ and this greeting is usually returned with gusto and then attention returns back to gossip, talk of football and the familiar conversation with the café owner about how big my baby boy is getting. The local farmer also chips in, about how my boy doesn’t have the build for football but that he is welcome to come help on the farm when he is old enough because ‘he will be a strong one’. The owner of the café politely suggests that maybe he is better suited to rugby. 

 

Coffee #2

I am responsible for the school run on my way to work with my daughters. This leads to coffee #2 and there are two options that I usually choose between. First option is before my youngest daughter goes into school. We do not have to contend with any traffic, besides the occasional flock of sheep being moved to a different pasture, so are always at the school before the gates open and there is a lovely café across the road, it’s cozy friendly and we have our little table in the corner where I get to hear all about the activities my daughter has planned for the day, what she will eat for lunch (another important part of Portuguese culture) and which teacher is her favourite. This time it’s the traditional café (espresso). If this doesn’t happen, another option for coffee #2 is a quick visit to the farmers market in São Martinho do Porto before I go to the office, they open early and I like buying fruit for myself and my colleagues. There is also a lovely little café there run by the same friendly old couple for years, they have never given me a bad recommendation for butchers, restaurants or random places to visit on weekends. 

 

Coffee #3

Coffee #3 is usually the coffee we have after lunch and the toughest choice of all, it has nothing to do with the coffee though, it is all about where to eat lunch. This is a conversation between couples, colleagues and family members that starts before 10am: ‘Where are we going to eat lunch’. For us it depends where we're during our travels and also the plate of the day… we are spoilt for choice. Fish in Nazare before visiting some apartments for sale, a salad on the beachfront in São Martinho do Porto or a local diner in Obidos that serves amazing black pork. Lunch is slow and the food is slower, it forces you to stop and breathe and taste and simply to enjoy the little things. The coffee just tastes better afterwards. 

 

Coffee #4

If you can handle a 4th, it can also be another coffee with milk and a mid-afternoon snack. Again we are spoilt for options with cafés and bakeries in most villages, the mid-afternoon snack can range from a freshly baked ‘pastel da nata’ or ‘bola de berlim’ or ‘tarte de amendoa’ and yes they are exactly as delicious as they sound. These all go well with a lovely cup of coffee and are the perfect interval before seeing out the last few hours of the day. There is also the ‘sunset option’, having a quick coffee on the beach somewhere before going home, while watching the sun disappear over the Atlantic Ocean. 

So these are my options. We live in a place where they have perfected coffee, perfected simplicity, perfected the little things… which as we know are sometimes the big things. 

 

How do you like your coffee?

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