Ordering coffee in Madeira & Portugal – for dummies [2023]


Bica, garoto, chino, chinesa..? Coffee types in Madeira, Portugal. How to order coffee in Portugal.

Ordering a cup of coffee in Madeira – it shouldn’t be that hard, right? 

Well, to be sure that you will get exactly what you feel like drinking, it is worth learning a couple of new names that locals use to order their coffee. We will also tell you if the names for coffee are the same in Madeira as in the rest of Portugal, and mention a couple of popular local & Portuguese pastries and recommended café’s on the island.

But first, we will teach you a simple, but useful phrase for ordering coffee in Portuguese…

How to order coffee in Portuguese?

This short phrase “Good morning, xxx please” is more than fine: 

“Bom dia (morning) / Boa tarde (afternoon) / Boa noite (evening). Um/uma xxx, por favor”

The word “and” in Portuguese is: ” e ”, so:

“Good morning, one espresso and two coffees with milk” will be:

”Bom dia, uma bica e duas chinesas, por favor.” 

 1- um / uma    2 – dois /duas    3 – três    4-  quatro    5 –  cinco

Check out also this (premium, but worth it) European Portuguese interactive lesson about ordering food and drinks in Portugal: Restaurantes e Cafés.


Ordering coffee in Portugal: How to order coffee in Portuguese? What are the names for coffee in Portugal and in Madeira?

Coffee names in Madeira

When it comes to names for coffee in Madeira, things get a bit more complicated. 


This type of coffee is very similar to the famous Italian espresso and is served in the same small espresso cup. However, it is slightly larger than its Italian brother and has a milder taste. It’s served without milk.

In English, “bica” means “a tap”. The term “bica” is also used in the mainland Portugal, although I have heard that in the north of the country the term “Café ou Cimbalino” is used instead of “bica”.

Bica, garoto, chino, chinesa..? Coffee types in Madeira, Portugal. How to order coffee in Portugal.
Left: Bica - Centre: Chino - Right: Chinesa

Bica cheia

It is a variant of the “bica”, only bigger. It contains more water, fills the entire espresso cup (similar to “long espresso”). It’s served without milk.

“Bica cheia” means “full bica” and it is also used in the rest of Portugal.

Italiana / Bica curta

And the other way round – smaller than “bica”, similar to “short espresso”. It’s served without milk.

This term is also used in the continental part of Portugal.


Still without milk, but with more water than “bica”. You can compare it to “Americano” coffee. It is served in a larger tea cup.

Chino means nothing else than a “Chinese man.” Is this name also used in the other parts of Portugal? I’m not sure about that, so please help me out and leave your comments!

And then we also have coffee with milk…


Translated as… “A little boy”. In Madeira, this word is used to describe a small coffee with milk and served in a small espresso cup (an essential piece of information!).

This term is also used in other regions of Portugal.


Literally translated -“Chinese woman” – typical coffee with milk. “chinesa” is similar to “garoto”, but “garoto” is served in an espresso cup, while chinesa is twice as large and served in a larger teacup.

This term is not used in other parts of Portugal, the continental equivalent of “Chinesa” is: “Meia de leite”.

Bica, garoto, chino, chinesa..? Coffee sorts in Madeira, Portugal. How to order coffee in Portuguese.


Similar to “café au lait” or “caffè latte”, meaning a weak coffee with a lot of frothed milk, served in a tall glass. Usually drunk in the mornings.

The literal meaning is “a gallon”. The term is also used in the continental part of Portugal.

Bica, garoto, meia de leite, galao, chino, chinesa..? Coffee sorts in Madeira, Portugal. How to order coffee in Portuguese?
Bica, garoto, chino, chinesa..? Coffee sorts in Madeira, Portugal. How to order coffee in Portuguese.


Here the answer is not always clear. For many, cappuccino is the English equivalent of a local chinesa – a regular coffee with milk. For some people, cappuccino can mean a coffee with an added taste, usually instant coffee. If you would like to order a regular coffee with milk, ask for a chinesa


And all the rest …

Of course, knowing the names listed above will help you a lot in small local cafés and bars. More and more places, however, adjust their menus (and with them of course, the coffee prices…) to tourists. In many modern or well-located cafés, you can buy Italian, frozen and flavored coffees, for prices similar to prices charged in Western Europe or the US.

Cafe’s like Starbucks are not popular on Madeira. Two popular café chains on Madeira are A Confeitaria and Penha D’Aguia. We like their large selection of sandwiches, however, when it comes to getting a nice coffee, we normally go to small, local cafés, where a “bica” costs around 1 euro. It is worth checking the prices of coffee before you decide to order because prices in tourist places are twice or three times as high.

What to get with your coffee in Madeira? Local & Portuguese pastries

What do people normally get with their coffees? Usually, they order a simple toast with cheese or ham, a small and delicious pastry with a cheese called requeijão (the pastry is called “Queijada”) or a typical Portuguese treat with vanilla cream “Pastel de Nata”.

Portuguese pastry - Queijadas in Madeira Island
Queijadas de requeijão - Delicious Portuguese Queijada pastries made with cheese
Przysmaki Madery: Pastel de nata - przepyszne portugalskie ciastko, które koniecznie trzeba sprobować podczas wakacji na Maderze
Pastel de nata PHOTO: Hayley Jayne Davis

Various passion fruit desserts, cakes and pastries are also popular (and highly recommended)…

Madeira Island pastries with passion fruit. Maracuja cakes. Portuguese coffee.

… and in the amazing Valley of the Nuns (Curral das Freiras) you have a chance to also try out some chestnut pastries.

Chestnut pastries Madeira Island Nun's Valley Portugal

Starbucks on Madeira?

Is there a Starbucks in Madeira? There is only one Starbucks in Madeira at the moment, and it is located at the airport. So, if you want to purchase a Madeira Island mug for your collections, that’s where you should get it.

In Madeira, different types of cafés are popular. Which ones?

Recommended Madeira Island café’s

On the island, and especially in Funchal, you will find many of great places to enjoy your coffee, from affordable local cafés and more elegant, touristic ones. There are also several popular coffee shop chains, and the two most popular in Funchal are Penha d’Aguia and A Confeitaria. You will certainly find enough places to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee in Madeira.

One of them is a unique and instagrammable flamingo-themed rooftop café Se Boutique Cafe

Se Boutique Cafe Funchal - instagrammable places & hidden gems of Madeira Island

Another lovely, colorful café in the Old Town is Art Food Corner Madeira. We love this place for the delicious coffee, a wide choice of healthy (& vegan) options, including avocado breakfasts. We described this café in our post: Art Centre Caravel.

If you feel like scones or a big variety of teas, add Loja do Cha Madeira to your list.

You may find scones also at the lovely courtyard Joao Carlos Abreu Museum Cafe.

See Post: Universo de Memórias – Museum João Carlos Abreu

This place is located on a steep hill north of the city center, but you may want to add it to your itinerary if you plan to visit Universo de Memórias João Carlos Abreu and/or Museu Quinta das Cruzes.

Madeira is also famous for its stunning high tea at the Reid’s Hotel, but be early – Sometimes, you may have to book weeks in advance. 

If you want to impress someone during an afternoon coffee date – don’t miss the restaurant Avista – a Michelin star restaurant with a beautiful ocean view. They offer a wide range of excellent teas, sandwiches and cakes, which can be served in a beautifully designed garden offering a lot of privacy.

It is almost impossible to list all recommended café’s as especially the center of Funchal is full of great spots & great coffee. See instead:

I hope this post was useful. Enjoy your coffee times in Madeira guys!


Bica, chino or garoto? All about the coffee names in Madeira & Portugal. Check this guide to ordering coffee in Madeira
Bica, garoto, meia de leite, galao, chino, chinesa..? Coffee names in Madeira, Portugal. How to order coffee in Portuguese?

Comments (4)

  1. Oh I love their menu and the coffee names. Thanks for sharing ♥️ ♥️ Hope you can check out our Instagram Auditor at Phlanx.com, where it helps you check your Instagram account for fake followers and likes!


  2. We’ve had coffees at dozens of places in Madeira, mostly outside of Funchal, in smaller towns or along roadsides, and I can honestly say I’ve never had a bad coffee. Most were excellent, a few good. We settled mostly on Chinesas, but occasionally ordered a Gallao. Prices ranged from 80 euro cents to 1.50.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *