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Saturday, January 17, 2015


Coffee Bar in the Hotel Europa
MADRID’S HOTEL EUROPA—For me the best coffee served in Europe starts in Madrid.  I prefer Madrid as my tourist entry into Europe.  It’s not as complicated as the main airports in London or Paris and Madrid Barajas (MAD) has just as many Euro connections.
But the main reason I like Barajas is because the Spaniards have their transportation act together. 
If you do your travel homework you can go from Madrid’s airport to the heart of the city by subway.  The trick is finding a metro stop by a convenient hotel.
This trip we chose the Hotel Europa for that reason.
We surfaced from the depths of the Metro right into Puerta del Sol or simply Sol.  Our hotel was steps away.
And the faster I can get to Hotel Europa’s delicious coffee bar (they call it a cafeteria but don’t be turned off by the name because it’s nothing like American cafeterias) the better.
Let’s go back to the airport and I’ll walk you through from main airport stations.
Take line 8 from the Madrid Barajas airport (MAD) to the Nuevos Ministerios station, which is the main transport hub for central Madrid. From Nuevos Ministerios more than 50 underground stations are accessible from this point. Lines 6, 8 and 10 all run to and from the station. At the airport Line 8 stops at Terminals 2 (first floor) and 4 (-1 floor).  Transfer from Line 8 at Nuevos Ministerios to Line 6 and go one stop to Cuatro Caminos station.  From there take Line 1 to the Sol station.        
Sidewalk seating outside Hotel Europa, Madri
Now back to the coffee.
My traveling companions (wife, two adult sons) were surprised that I left my luggage in the hotel lobby and immediately found a seat at the expansive coffee bar.
From this long bar of coffee and tapas (it’s the hotel restaurant so its always open for food and coffee) you may order any combination of coffee drinks known to the tuxedoed and aproned staff.  Start with Café con leche (even if you don’t use milk at home—don’t be stubborn).
The first sip (this time after 3 years away) was everything delicious.  Why coffee in Spain and Europe in general tastes so good is beyond me.  It’s like sports or bar movies you have to be there to appreciate the atmosphere.  Words cannot describe the smoky taste of a Café con Leche (milk with hot milk, steamed).
Back home I try to recreate the coffee I have in Europe and fail.  The closest I get is to order dark, dark coffee beans; grind them at home; and use them in an espresso machine. Then I steam a 50/50 mix of Carnation’s condensed milk with half and half.
We’re talking taste here so don’t confuse this blog with a nutrition lecture.
My recipe is close, but still not the beautiful taste and aroma we enjoyed from our coffee adventures from Madrid to five other Euro cities.
But that’s why everyone travels. It’s all about the exploration. And, the mystery.

Never ending research:
For a well done history of coffee in Spain link to:

For a better written café con leche story than mine link to:

For more images of Hotel Europa link to:

Hotel Europa just off Madrid's Plaza del Sol

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