Carajillo, what it is, and how it is prepared

The world of coffee is a fascinating universe of aromas, flavors, and traditions, and among its countless variations, there’s a drink that has conquered the taste buds of connoisseurs: the Carajillo coffee.

In this article, we invite you to delve into the exciting world of Carajillo coffee, discovering its origins, preparation, and the diversity of options it offers to satisfy all tastes.

How to order a Carajillo in Spanish

Un Carajillo, por favor‘ = ‘Oon kah-rah-HEE-yoh, pohr fah-vor.’

Tips: Emphasize the ‘HEE’ part of ‘kah-rah-HEE-yoh’ for closer pronunciation. Remember, the Spanish ‘r’ sound differs from the English ‘r’ sound, and the ‘ll’ is pronounced like a ‘y’ in ‘yes.’

What is a Carajillo coffee?

Carajillo coffee is a popular beverage in Spain. It is a variant of espresso coffee prepared by adding a small amount of liquor, similar to Irish coffee.

The basic recipe for Carajillo coffee starts by adding a quantity of liquor, such as cognac, brandy, rum, or some other spirit, to the cup. Then, freshly made espresso coffee is served over the liquor. The amount of liquor may vary depending on personal preference and the desired strength of the drink.

Typically, Carajillo coffee is served in a small glass, and some people personalize it with sugar, spices, and even lemon zest to add an extra flavor.


Carajillo coffee is a beverage that is particularly enjoyed after meals or during moments of relaxation, and it is quite popular in social gatherings in some regions.

In certain variations of Carajillo coffee, such as Cremaet Valenciano, a special ritual is performed before mixing it with the coffee. It involves flaming rum, sugar, and lemon zest before adding it to the drink.

This process not only adds a theatrical touch to the preparation but also produces subtle changes in taste and aroma, as well as slightly reducing the alcohol content of the liquor. Certain notes are enhanced in this way, resulting in a unique and special flavor experience.

How and where does Carajillo coffee originate?

One of the many theories suggests that Carajillo coffee could have its roots in Spain, where it became popular. It is also said to have its origins during the time when Spain had a strong presence in Cuba and other Latin American colonies.

It is said that Spanish sailors mixed coffee with rum or liquor to stay alert during long journeys at sea. This custom would have reached Spain and become popular as Carajillo coffee.

As there is no definitive narrative about its origin, Carajillo coffee has acquired different variations and methods of preparation in various cultures and regions. For example, if you order it in Catalonia, it will most likely be served with the liquor unburned and the sugar on the side.

Utensils for making a Carajillo coffee
Utensils for making a Carajillo coffee

Recipe for traditional Carajillo

I will guide you step by step in preparing a delicious Carajillo coffee. While this is a traditionally prepared recipe, remember that the proportions can be adjusted according to your preferences.

Before you begin, have a heat-resistant glass cup or glass on hand. Let’s get to work!

  1. Mix the liquor with some coffee beans, a lemon peel, sugar to taste, and cinnamon, if you prefer, in a metal jug. Remember that you can choose any liquor you like, but the traditional one is Brandy.
  2. Heat the mixture lightly on the stovetop.
  3. Pour the mixture into a heat-resistant glass.
  4. Ignite the mixture using the flambé technique (carefully bring the flame close to the glass to ignite the liquor).
  5. Stir well to reduce the alcohol content and harmoniously blend the flavors slightly.
  6. Place a plate on top of the glass to extinguish the flame, cutting off the oxygen and allowing it to extinguish fully.
  7. Prepare a coffee using an espresso machine or any other coffee maker or method you have at home.
  8. Serve it carefully over the liquor, using a spoon to achieve two well-defined layers and a perfect aesthetic.
  9. Mix the liquor with the coffee to stir well and ensure that all flavors combine.
  10. Enjoy your coffee! Serve it hot and savor the exquisite combination of coffee and liquor.

There are other ways to prepare Carajillo coffee that do not follow the traditional method, but in any case, all will delight you with their taste.

The ideal time to enjoy a Carajillo coffee

Carajillo coffee is a versatile beverage that can be enjoyed at different times of the day, although the ideal choice tends to vary according to personal preferences and cultural customs.

It is generally considered more appropriate for the late afternoon or evening due to its liquor content. Therefore, after dinner can be a suitable time to taste a Carajillo coffee. Its flavor makes it an excellent complement to conclude a meal on a high note.

In addition to gastronomic occasions, Carajillo coffee is an interesting option for sharing during social gatherings or celebrations. Enjoying this drink with friends or family while chatting and creating a pleasant atmosphere can be a delightful experience.

For those seeking a moment of relaxation in the evening, Carajillo coffee can be a perfect choice. Its comforting flavors provide a warm and pleasant sensation, making it an ideal companion for quiet nights.


Carajillo coffee has become a versatile beverage appreciated in various parts of the world, from Spain to Colombia and Mexico. It is the perfect companion after dinner, during social gatherings, or to enjoy a moment of relaxation at night.

This drink is a variant of espresso coffee enriched with a small amount of liquor, such as cognac, brandy, rum, or aguardiente, depending on personal preference. Typically, this coffee is served in small cups.

Carajillo coffee offers a unique and customizable experience by allowing you to add sugar, spices, and even lemon peel to enhance its flavors. I invite you to delight in its exquisite taste and discover the magic hidden in its preparation!

Written by Pablo Barrantes Nevado
I am Pablo Barrantes, a coffee lover. I decided to start this website to solve all the doubts that arise every day when preparing our favorite drink: coffee. I am an industrial engineer by profession, but I have worked in coffee shops for many years, where I have learned all the secrets about coffee machines and coffee. My passion for coffee has led me to investigate and study beyond the obvious, and thanks to this, I can offer solutions and give news about coffee and coffee makers. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I research, document and write here.

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