In Porto, as with any other place in Portugal, there are coffee shops on almost every corner. So numerous are they and so reasonably priced is the coffee that Portuguese people may visit their local two or three times a day for their “café” (and what they call “café”, us Brits call an espresso). No need to take coffee at home when you can pop into the coffee shop to shake hands with neighbours, watch a bit of Top Gear on National Geographic and perhaps read the paper.
One of the wonders of Portuguese coffee shops is that you can sit down in one for ages without people telling you you’ve outstayed your welcome, so they are great places to take advantage of when you need to get your laptop out and do a bit of work. One thing I never took advantage of, though, was the endless packets of sugar. Nearly all Portuguese people drink coffee with sugar, so when you order a coffee you aren’t asked if you want sugar – it is assumed. Your cup arrives with two small sachets of the sweet stuff.
Up until recently, I always left the sugar and sent it back because I never consume it. That is until an expat friend told me, “I always keep the sugar. I’ve lived here two years and never bought a bag of sugar because I always pick it up in the coffee shops.”
It’s an obvious and worthwhile exercise. After all, you are paying for the sachets, and they soon mount up. We have so many at home now that it’s almost tempting to buy a coffee machine and start our own coffee shop. Either that or we’ll make some cakes.