Home Coffees, teas and infusions Asian from Cartagena, more than a coffee

Asian from Cartagena, more than a coffee

La Cartagena gastronomy hides delicacies that everyone should enjoy. The asian coffee is one of them, which constitutes a culinary symbol in the municipality of Cartagena (Murcia). It was originally a combination of coffee, condensed milk, and brandy. But the recipe has evolved, incorporating small details that make this drink incomparable. Everything is important here, even the glass. You want to know more? 

Origin of Asian coffee

Where was the first asian cafe it is a question that generates dispute. Some award the invintroduction of this drink to the bars of the Calle Mayor of the port city. This theory supports that the hoteliers were inspired by the sailors from Asia who, when they disembarked, asked for coffee with condensed milk and brandy.

However, there are more who argue that this famous cafe was born in the Bar Pedrin, in the hamlet cartagenera of El Albujón. Pedro Conesa Ortega, owner of the premises, was the one who invented what would become a gastronomic emblem of the Campo de Cartagena region. His wife, Dolores Pagán, has confessed that it arose after a fault in the maquina coffee maker that caused coffees to contain grounds. To solve the bad taste of these coffees, goIt was a combination with which to camouflage it.

asian coffee
Asian coffee | Photo: AsiaticoShop

La receta original It contained brandy, condensed milk and coffee, and the result was vaporized with the coffee pot. The concoction was all the rage and became the most demanded from the bar. The original does not include 43 liquor, a distillate also born in Cartagena territory. It is served without sugar, mixed and already vaporized.

In a nearby town the “Russian” coffee had emerged -years ago-, which they took as an example to baptize their creation as “Asian”. This happened in the year 1947 , more than 70 years ago.

Bar Pedrín | Source: Restaurant Guru

The glass of the Asian

The glass in which the asian coffee it has its own story. At first, this glass was called "strong bell cup". The Unión Vidriera de España, in Santa Lucía, first manufactured this crystal glass in 1908. It was used to serve the vermouth, very popular drink at the time.

In the 40s the manufacturing moved to Barcelona, ​​to the Vidur company. Currently this cup model is proprietary and it is marketed by José Díaz. His name is carved on the floor of the vase, next to the name of the city of Cartagena. This glass holds a secret: the recipe for Asian coffee.

How to make Asian coffee

The cup in which the Asian is served determine the amount of each ingredient. The first thing we take is the condensed milk -temperate, not refrigerated- to the end of the vertical lines of the glass, filling the narrowest part.

Then we add the brandy or cognac until the dotted line is covered. Brandy Magno is used in the original recipe, although you can use whatever you have on hand. But have a lot be careful with the quantityas the flavor is strong and can spoil the taste of the coffee.

And we have to add the star ingredient: 43 liquor. Here the brand does matter, as it is originally from Cartagena and is taken into account. We pour this sweet liquor up to the edge of the carved spears in the glass.

It is the moment of coffee. It can be added directly to the Asian glass from the coffee maker or make a coffee in another glass and incorporate it later. This is because the container is very tall and needs to be tipped down slightly to fit in the coffee machine. So if you don't have the dexterity, it might tip over and spill everything you've been wearing so far. The coffee is poured until the glass overflows.

In many places emulsify the coffee at this point in the preparation, creating a homogeneous mixture. If condensed milk can be distinguished in the glass, it means that it has not been vaporized. But this is optional, just personal taste. 

Finally, it's time to add the details that make the difference in this coffee. We sprinkle cinnamon to taste, although the ideal is to cover the surface of the glass. We add a couple of coffee grains and a lemon rind to decorate. But do not think that because they are decorative they are expendable. If you want to make an authentic Cartagena Asian coffee you must include them.

Asian recipe | Photo: AsiaticoShop


  • Café
  • Condensed milk
  • Ground cinnamon
  • 43 liquor
  • Brandy or cognac
  • Lemon rind
  • Coffee grains

Sit back and enjoy drinking your asian coffee. Although if you want to delight yourself with authentic coffee experts -and discover more delicacies from the gastronomy of Cartagena- do not hesitate to visit this three-thousand-year-old city.