The Barraquito is one of the star drinks of Tenerife. Its mixture of liquor, coffee and lemon captivates locals and visitors to the point of wanting to take the recipe home. We head to an iconic spot for the drink, El Camino in Puerto de la Cruz, to learn the secrets of the perfect Barraquito.
Carlos, our Barraquito ambassador, first shows us a 2016 video that has been seen thousands of times. He tells us how this coffee is an international drink: “They arrive from everywhere, Germans, Poles… the Poles go crazy and ask for ‘Barraquito, Barraquito’ as soon as they arrive, they come with the idea already in their heads.”
As we chat, we prepare the delicious layered drink. First comes the condensed milk; then Licor 43 “to give that cheerful touch”; above this, the espresso coffee; and finally a layer of milk and one of milk foam. Thus the five characteristic colors of the barraquito are achieved. It is essential to finish the recipe with a small slice of lemon and a little cinnamon sprinkled on the foam.
Carlos tells us that part of Barraquito’s success lies in the fact that it is not made in any other part of the continent. “Europeans love their coffee and this one is nothing like Macchiato or Latte. Those are more commercial coffees but the Barraquito is unique, I have been serving them for more than 30 years.”
The first thing to do when drinking the barraquito is to sink the lemon peel into the drink and then stir well with a spoon to mix all the flavors and create a homogeneous color. In the first sip the citrus flavor of the lemon invades the palate almost immediately. Then, the strong note of the Licor 43 kicks in with a strong aftertaste in the throat that no other coffee has.
With each sip the palate adapts to the initial surprise and the softness of the coffee mixed with the sweetness of the condensed milk comes through. The drink does not tire; on the contrary, as you get used to the liquor and the citrus you begin to perceive other flavors, like the cinnamon touch that crowns the glass.
The Barraquito also changes its name depending on where you are in Tenerife. In the capital (Santa Cruz, La Laguna) you may have to ask for a “Zaperoco” or “Barraquito especial”. This is because the standard Barraquito comes as a “leche y leche” coffee made with milk and condensed milk (also known as a “café bombón”). Marcial Morera, in his Dictionary of Canarian Language, states that the origin of the “Barraquito” comes from a man named Sebastián Rubio, nicknamed “Barraco”, who used to ask for the drink in bars of the capital of Tenerife.
What is the real secret of Barraquito that makes it so unique? Carlos is very clear on how to prepare his at El Camino. “Like everything in life, you have to put in love. The Barraquito, made with love, is perfection.”
We leave the bar with a good shot of energy and a big smile; it is true that things made with love taste much better.