Although we have enjoyed coffee all over the world, our love for drinking coffee began in Spain.

We stand at the counter at La Mallorquina which has served pastries on the Puerta del Sol since 1894.

"Dos cafés con leche." (I Iike the steamed milk at breakfast because it adds some nutrition to the meal.)

He places the saucer, spoon, and sugar packet in front of us. The white cups and saucers add a respect and dignity to the drink versus paper cups and lids.

"¿Algo más?" (The white jacketed man asks without making eye contact--he's very busy.)

"Dos napolitanas con chocolate." (They are known for their napolitanas, and again, the dark chocolate is healthier than the crema.)

He places a knife and fork before us and we love the clinking. There is such an effort in setting, clearing and cleaning real flatware and porcelain rather than tossing plastic and paper.

Moments later he brings the pastries, then the cups with only espresso. He pours the steamed milk in front of us, as if we need to see it for ourselves.

Two young American women--a teacher taking language classes here in Madrid and her friend who just flew in from Ireland where she is interning in marketing --stand next to us. We talk about how social Spain is--crowding with ease through the streets and here at the cafe, standing shoulder to shoulder enjoying breakfast around the countertop and glass case of treats. They are well dressed for business and shopping and strolling.

(Another day we met two retired couples from Istanbul sitting next to us at the Café del Real on the Plaza Isabel II. We helped them with a map and we talked about their hometown and how you must watch out for Turkish coffee.)

"¿Algo más?

"Dos cafés solo."(the leche provides protein, the solo provides octane.)

We use the small napkins to clean up and drop them to the ground. We savor every sip, every bite. We look at each other. Another? Yes. No.

"¿La cuenta?"

The check comes on a stainless tray. The change comes back in the same way.


"Hasta luego." (Literally, until later...)



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