How to Order Coffee in Colombia


So you took a course in Spanish, learned the basic phrases for your trip and you sit down to order a coffee in Colombia, look at the menu and the options are: tinto, perico, pintado and carajillo. Now what? How are you going to get the coffee you need? We at Colombia4u are here to help you order a coffee in Colombia the right way, so here are our tips to get your dream cup of joe!

The classic red wine coffee

The traditional Colombian tinto is a black coffee - not a wine!

The traditional Colombian tinto is a black coffee – not a wine! / source

If someone offers you a “un tinto” in the morning: don’t worry worry, it’s coffee, not red wine! Tinto, or tinico as it is also called, literally translates to “ink” and is your classic black coffee. This is your basic cheap coffee and it is almost a religion in Colombia to drink a cup in the morning before starting the day, usually in a small mug accompanied by a glass of water. The issue of sugar is optional; some Colombians like to sweeten their coffee with panela (sugarcane juice) and others with a cinnamon branch. The only rule is a glass of water and, of course, good coffee. A good quality black coffee in Colombia, unmasked by milk, is never difficult to find.

Perico or Pintado, here’s the coffee with milk!

Elsewhere in the world, a coffee with milk, or a latte, is standard to order, but here in Colombia it is called a Perico or Pintado (painted), and is not as popular as the tinto. This is because, as you may know, Colombian coffee is a worldwide favourite and real coffee lovers would hardly mix such quality beans with milk. But we know that sometimes all you want is latte with an arepa (a traditional Colombian flatbread made with corn). You can grab your Perico in a small cup or a plastic cup on the streets or in café. A Perico is easy to find on any corner in Colombia.

The quality of Colombia's coffee beans are second to none - hence no milk required.

The quality of Colombia’s coffee beans are second to none – hence no milk required. / source

Warm up with El Carajillo

Arriving in Colombia in winter and want to order the coffee of the season? What you want to order is El Carajillo. Don’t be surprised by the flavour when you take the first sip: this classic Colombian winter drink is mixed with rum or aguardiente, different to the drink of the same name in Spain with mixes brandy with the coffee. This drink was concocted to encourage soldiers in the war. It was a bit of liquid courage before each battle, so it was called coraje (meaning courage), which over the years turned into Carajillo. It remains a coffee for the bravest and is well worth a try!

Got your head wrapped around the different coffee terms? Good! Now it’s time to order your coffee in Colombia, and enjoy the country’s finest coffee. Even Bruce Almighty knows it’s the best! Have a good trip to Colombia and buen provecho

To learn more about coffee in Colombia, make sure you visit the Coffee Triangle on your Colombian vacation.

Written by Thalles Santos / Adapted by Nicole Eberhard