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How To Make A Barraquito? (Authentic Canary Coffee Recipe)

Barraquito coffee – sounds exotic, right?

I bet you never tried it. Well, unless you visited Tenerife island.

The thing is, the coffee is served only there!

That doesn’t mean you can’t make it at home, of course.

I visited Tenerife a couple of times and tried barraquito at the spot. I was so enchanted by this delicious drink that I decided to make it on my own.

Today, I will share my recipe with you. Plus, I will tell you all you need to know about this coffee so you can appreciate it even more.

Let’s begin!

What Is A Barraquito? 

A wise man (Hans Christian Andersen) once said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” Well, maybe nobody could describe a barraquito with words, so they made a song!

Jokes aside, this drink is so special for Tenerife inhabitants and visitors that it got its own song by the band La Galeria. And this song perfectly describes the sentiment of this coffee.

I witnessed this sentiment when I visited this beautiful island in the Canary archipelago.

Imagine: palms, sandy beaches, and the neverending sun touching your skin while you enjoy sipping your coffee. And not any coffee.

This coffee is sweet, creamy, layered, and strong. And it makes you a bit… Tipsy 😉

Sounds appealing?

Well, this coffee is what makes this scenery perfect. And its name is barraquito.

The other name for this coffee is zaperoco, which is what they call it in the northern part of the island.

Barraquito was created in a bar in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

A man walked into the bar and asked for a cortado with Licor 43 and cinnamon. He kept ordering it often, so the drink became a staple. Eventually, it was named after his nickname – Barraco.

Basically, this coffee is made of condensed milk, liqueur, espresso, and milk foam.

Easy to make, right?

Not quite.

Let’s dig deeper into all the nitty-gritty details of this coffee.

How to Make a Barraquito at Home

I’ll be honest. It’s not the easiest coffee to make at home.

You see, because it’s a layered coffee, you will need to pay extra attention to ingredients and preparation to get the real barraquito.

Well, you can just mix all the ingredients, and that’s that. But, in my opinion, it would be an offense to this amazing coffee.

Plus, you would like to have beautiful pictures for your Insta, right?

If that’s the case, buckle up!

I will go through the preparation of this drink step by step. 

If you follow carefully, you will have quite similar results to the coffee you would get at Tenerife beach cafe.

The Ingredients You’ll Need

barraquito sweet drink

Most of the ingredients are easy to find. However, there is one that is a bit of a hassle, but I will offer a substitute that will work quite well.

For a barraquito you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon of condensed milk
  • 1 shot of espresso (from the espresso machine, pod machine, or even Moka pot)
  • steamed whole milk (skimmed or plant-based won’t work well)
  • Licor 43, Tia Maria, or other vanilla-flavored liqueur
  • lemon zest
  • cinnamon powder

As you maybe guessed, Licor 43 is the problematic ingredient. You see, this liqueur is not easy to find in regular drink stores. The best is if you would bring a bottle next time you visit Spain.

But, there is a simpler solution instead of waiting for a trip to Spain.

You can make your own liqueur that will resemble Licor 43. And I will even give you a simple recipe for it. But first, let’s see what makes this liqueur so special. 

Licor 43 is a Spanish vanilla-flavored liqueur. It contains 43 ingredients, including herbs, spices, citrus, and other fruits.

But don’t worry; you don’t have to use all 43 ingredients to make a liqueur for your barraquito.

And even if you wanted to, you can’t!

The full list of Licor 43 ingredients is kept secret. Only 5 of them are known:

  • lemon
  • orange
  • vanilla
  • coriander
  • tea

You can use these ingredients for your homemade vanilla-flavored liqueur. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Gather the following ingredients: 
    • 1 cup of water
    • 2 cups of granulated sugar
    • 1 vanilla bean
    • 1 and ½ cups of vodka
    • 1 cup of brandy
  2. Boil the water in a saucepan, add sugar and mix until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Split the vanilla bean in half (lengthwise) and add to a saucepan on low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, and then remove from heat.
  4. Let the syrup steep for 8 hours. At this point, you can also add some lemon, orange, coriander, and, some herbal tea of your taste. But to be honest, this is improvisation. So just do it according to your taste. A few slices of lemon and orange, and ½ spoon of coriander and tea will be ok.
  5. Mix vodka and brandy in a jar, and add previously made syrup (but don’t forget to strain it first!)

And that’s it!

It won’t be exactly Licor 43, but it will be sufficient for your barraquito. Also, if you are too lazy to make your own liqueur, you can buy some vanilla-flavored liqueur in the shop.

NOTE
Pay attention to the liqueur’s consistency! It should be thicker than regular brandy (think agave syrup consistency, for example.) The point is that it should be thicker than an espresso shot and milk.

What About the Equipment?

barraquito and moka pot

You won’t need much equipment other than an espresso machine and milk frother. You can use anything from a professional espresso machine, Nespresso, or even a Moka pot

NOTE
Although you can use your favorite beans to brew the shot, I recommend using dark-roasted espresso beans. That way, the coffee taste will be prominent among other ingredients.

As for the milk frother, the best would be a manual steam wand. If you have a semi-automatic espresso machine with a frother, you already have one. If not, any other frother will have to do the trick.

But keep in mind, you want thick microfoam. And you might not get one with other kinds of frothers.

Finally, you will need a glass. 

Yes – glass, not a cup!

Barraquito is traditionally served in a tall clear glass with no handle. The glass should be a 6 to 7 oz capacity.

If you have your ingredients and equipment ready, let’s start making barraquito!

Making a Barraquito Step-by-Step

barraquito coffee

The first thing to remember is that you want to achieve 5 layers. Because of that, pour each ingredient gently, so you keep the layers in place.

Let’s begin!

Step 1

Pour 1 tbsp of condensed milk into the glass. 

Take care not to smear the sides of the glass while you’re doing that.

Step 2

Pour ½ a shot of liqueur (you can also put a full shot if you dare) over the condensed milk. 

To do that, take a long spoon, place it close above the condensed milk with the rounded side up, and slowly pour the liqueur. 

Step 3

Steam 5 ounces of whole milk until you get thick microfoam

Pour it gently into the cup over the spoon. While doing so, move the spoon slowly upwards, so the layers remain intact.

Step 4

Pour the shot of espresso over the spoon through the center of the microfoam. 

Do it gently but not too slowly.

Step 5

Decorate your drink with some lemon zest and cinnamon.

And that’s it! 

If you did the steps well, now you have a muy bueno barraquito. I recommend serving this coffee cocktail instead of dessert after lunch.

NOTE
In some areas of the Canary Island, they serve it with whipped cream on top. But if you ask me, sweet condensed milk is more than enough sugar in my coffee.

A Few Last Tips

To enjoy your barraquito like a pro, here are a few tips:

  • Mix it before drinking. Yes, I know! All this layering was in vain 😭 But, tradition is tradition. Layers were there just for the aesthetic (and photos), and to feel the real taste of barraquito you will need to stir the ingredients.
  • Play around. I won’t judge you! You can add less condensed milk if you don’t like so much sweetness or more milk for a larger and milkier drink.
  • Make it virgin. If you want to skip alcohol, you can make it without the liqueur. Barraquito with liqueur is sometimes called barraquito con vitamina (liqueur is the vitamin in this case.) So, you can make it sin vitamina, meaning – without the vitamin.
barraquito in glass

Barraquito Recipe

Sweet and layered coffee drink from Tenerife island
Prep Time 5 mins
Servings 7 -oz glass

Equipment

  • espresso machine, Nespresso or Moka pot
  • steam wand or another kind of milk frother
  • 7-oz tall glass with no handle
  • long spoon
  • grater or knife (for lemon peel)

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp of condensed milk
  • 1 shot of espresso coffee
  • 5 ounces of steamed whole milk
  • ½ shot of Licor 43, Tia Maria, or other vanilla-flavored liqueur
  • lemon zest
  • cinnamon powder

Instructions
 

  • Pour 1 tbsp condensed milk into a glass
  • Pour ½ a shot of liqueur over the rounded part of a long spoon
  • Steam 5 ounces of milk until you get a thick microfoam
  • Pour the milk into the cup over the spoon
  • Pour one shot of espresso over the spoon through the center of the microfoam
  • Grate some lemon peel and sprinkle it with cinnamon over the foam
  • Stir and enjoy!

In Conclusion

If you like to experiment with specialty coffee drinks, you must try barraquito.

It’s the first thing my friends suggested I should try when I visited Tenerife island. And I’m so happy I did!

This drink is creamy, sweet, and punchy, with a pinch of magic (read: alcohol), so you will be boosted for the day. And you don’t actually have to go to the Canary Islands to try it. With some effort, you can make it at home.

I hope my recipe will help you do it!

Up for some more coffee recipes from Spain? Try a delicious Spanish Latte, which you can easily make at home.

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Photo of author
Mirta Crkvenjakov
After years of working as a professional barista, Mirta is now putting her skills to good here at Fluent In Coffee. If she’s not drinking coffee, she’s writing about it or experimenting with different brews.