Morning coffee

A few months ago I spent some time in Portugal, and learned that what the Portuguese call breakfast is pequeno almoço or ‘little lunch’ — a literal version of the French petit déjeuner and the Italian piccola colazione. But, in reading hotel reviews on written by Brazilians, I have found that their term for breakfast is café da manhã or ‘morning coffee’. To Brazilians, then, coffee is an integral part of the breakfast concept, as it is to Turks, whose word for breakfast is kahvaltı, a compound of kahve (coffee) and altı (six), possibly meaning (I’m not sure about this) ‘six-o’clock coffee’. Of course, at the Turkish hotels where I stayed breakfast was not necessarily served at six and one had a choice of coffee or tea.

I was a morning tea drinker until I acquired the coffee habit in my twenties. And while I like my tea plain (no milk, lemon or sugar), I like coffee with (a little) milk. But with old age my digestion of milk seems to have slowed down, and if I do any vigorous activity (such as a gym workout) within two hours of drinking coffee with milk, I get an unpleasant sensation in my stomach. My routine is now tea on gym days, coffee on non-gym days.

When I travel I ask for a cappuccino scuro in an Italian-type coffeehouse, or for un cortado in Spain or une noisette in France. In Colombia it’s another matter: there café by itself means ‘coffee with milk’; black coffee is tinto (which normally means ‘red’ as applied to wine), while the intermediate kind that I like is perico in Bogotá and elsewhere, but pintado in Cali. The word perico means ‘parakeet’ and it’s also used to describe scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions, huevos pericos. One time, in a café in Cali, I asked for dos pericos, and was about to be served some eggs when I corrected myself and said dos pintados.

Anyway, I am curious if any languages other than Turkish and Brazilian Portuguese have ‘coffee’ as a part of their term for breakfast.


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