The iconic Café Central in Malaga, the Café that taught customers to order coffee in nine different ways, permanently closed earlier this year.
Malaga no longer hosts the old Historic Cafés stumbled upon as recently as mid-20th century; currently, it’s only large café franchises and chains.
Travelling back in time to the 1950s, we find the then owner, José Prado, coming up with nine different ways to order coffee, thus codifying both the strength of coffee and its ratio to milk.
This was a time-saving and fun trick. So, coffee orders would span from solo (no milk) to nube.
In fact, available options had been illustrated on a tile mosaic created by artist Amparo Ruiz de Luna, which became a trademark for the café.
These are the memories shared by his son, Rafael Prado, who reached the retirement age and left. But his retirement is not the only reason why the Café closed its doors for the last time, despite local figures expressing their sadness over this, as well as a groundswell of social media support.
He also mentions the unaffordable rent sought by his relatives who own the place.
Speaking to the PTV, he said he chose this solution over stuff cuts and price rises in order to afford rent.
At the moment, what the future holds for Café Central is unknown, i.e. whether it will fall into the hands of a chain, but, in any case, it will not be the same Café that was listed among Spain and Portugal’s 50 Historic Cafés included in the relevant book of Fernando Fanjo who is currently the HCR Ambassador to Spain.
At the Central Square
Café Central is located at the town’s Central Square, Plaza de la Constitución, and was the meeting place of locals, as well as a major attraction for tourists, where one could try local treats such as la loca. The torta loca was created by a master confectioner who decided to take two rounds of puff pastry and fill them with custard, topping them with orange frosting and a cherry.
Rafael Prado still remembers the lavish breakfasts and the Japanese tourists who dipped their churros in beer and Coca-Cola.
A Part of History Disappears
As the Café closes down, Malaga is missing a part of its History that has gradually faded.
In the 1950s, next to the Café, two more Cafés stood: on the one side there was Swiss Café and on the other side there was Munich Café.
The story of the Central is not clear, but it is seen on an artistic performance poster from the 1920s.
At the time, the Café was a narrow bar, but discussions were heated: flamencos and bullfights, as well as current events over a cup of coffee.
Another part of the town’s history has gone to dust and what will happen to it remains unknown.
Will it become part of contemporary lifestyle or will its colorful tiles be transferred to a place that will be reminiscent of the Café?
Info: El Pais, El Espanol, malagagastronomyguide.com, lavanguardia.com