Prior to writing this review of Coffee Break Spanish, I’d already tried out a bunch of different resources to study Spanish, such as Fluencia, Rocket Spanish, SpanishPod101, Baselang, Babbel, and a few others.
In fact, I’m actually already familiar with Coffee Break as I’ve also tried out their Mandarin course.
For this review, I tried out a bunch of their free lessons which are available wherever you listen to podcasts. I also tried out a free premium lesson, along with the extra materials that are included, at each of the four levels of courses they offer.
This review will take an in-depth look at what it’s like to use Coffee Break Spanish. I’ll help you decide if the free version is worth using and if the premium version is worth paying for.
Coffee Break Spanish Courses
This review will focus on their main courses – Coffee Break Spanish Seasons 1-4, but they also have other courses as well.
The main audio of these lessons is available completely free. Coffee Break Spanish has over 200 free lessons available on iTunes. It’s one of the best free resources you’ll find to learn Spanish.
The premium lessons add onto the free materials to make it a bit more comprehensive of a course. What exactly is included in the premium courses depends a bit on the season.
In seasons 1 and 2, each lesson includes the following parts:
In season 3, each lesson includes:
- Main Audio
- Encore Audio
- Encore Notes
In season 4, each lesson includes:
- Extended Audio
- Bonus Audio Translations
Each season is a bit different with slightly different styles. But obviously, the lower levels are quite basic whereas the higher levels use a lot more Spanish which allows for more interesting lessons.
One thing you’ll find throughout is that the lessons have a feeling as if you were sitting in on a Spanish class.
There aren’t interactive exercises like you’ll find with Babbel or Fluencia, likewise, although there are opportunities for you to speak throughout, unlike Pimsleur, that’s not really the main focus either.
Compared to some resources, it’s a bit slower and less intimidating. There are lots of translations, explanations, and examples throughout the lessons.
Coffee Break Spanish uses Spanish from Spain but those studying Latin American Spanish would still benefit from the courses as well.
Let’s take a look at what the lessons and premium materials are like now.
Throughout the seasons, there’s a gradual build-up of Spanish, starting from the absolute basics and reaching somewhere around an intermediate level, perhaps higher.
In seasons 1 and 2, there are two hosts, one of which is learning Spanish alongside the listener.
New vocabulary and sentence structures are introduced and practiced fairly slowly. You should definitely participate and speak out loud as you go through the lessons as that’ll be much more effective.
As I mentioned earlier, the premium version of seasons 1 and 2 includes a video lesson. This video contains the exact same content as the free audio courses that you can find on itunes or elsewhere.
The video aspect just makes it easier to see the language written out.
Another premium feature is the lesson notes. These notes just basically cover everything that was taught in the lesson, including important words and concepts. You may also find a transcript of the lesson along with some bonus vocabulary that’s related to the lesson.
There’s also a bonus audio lesson which seems to last around 10 minutes. They add onto what was taught in the lessons, often by introducing more vocabulary or practicing the grammar.
There are translation exercises going from both Spanish to English and English to Spanish. You’ll find pauses between each sentence to give you some time to think and then the answer is explained.
Moving up to Season 3, I preferred the lesson style quite a bit more. Instead of having a Spanish learner as a co-host, there was a second Spanish speaker in the lessons.
As you get to seasons 3 and 4, the amount of Spanish used throughout the lessons is much higher, making the lessons more interesting (at least for me). There’s quite a bit of casual conversation between the hosts which I really enjoyed.
There’s still a lot of straight-forward teaching throughout, including grammar, vocabulary, translations and so on.
At this level, the notes are pretty useful as not every part of the dialogue is translated. So, if you missed something, being able to look it up in the lesson notes is quite helpful.
The Encore Audio and Encore Notes are pretty similar to content included in the earlier seasons. The audio is basically just translation exercises and the notes include the answers to these exercises.
While all seasons vary slightly, season 4 is the only season where there’s a big difference between what’s included in the free vs premium courses.
At season 4, the free lessons are much shorter, lasting only around 10 minutes, whereas the premium lessons include an extended audio section which brings the total length closer to 40 minutes.
This extended audio is really useful as it breaks down the lesson line by line. I really liked this section as it explains things really clearly with translations, examples, and opportunities for you to practice the main points.
At the end of the extended audio, you’ll hear the dialogue again. You’ll definitely find that it’s easier to understand after you’ve listened to the whole lesson.
Similar to the other levels, there’s a PDF file that you can download which includes the transcript, along with the translation exercises and an answer key that you’ll practice in the Bonus Audio Translations section.
How much does it cost?
The amount of content that Cofee Break Spanish gives away is amazing. Not only are the audio lessons free for all four levels that I looked at in this review but also some lessons from their other courses.
In order to access the bonus materials, you’d have to purchase the courses from their website. Unfortunately, they’re pretty expensive.
Each season of Coffee Break Spanish costs £80, which at the time of writing would be $104. There are also bundles available which make it a bit more affordable. A bundle of all four levels would cost £255, or $335.
Is it worth it to purchase the courses?
Most people would probably find that the extra materials included in the paid courses aren’t really worth the high cost. While the extras are helpful, the free lessons would probably be sufficient.
However, if you really like Coffee Break Spanish and don’t mind spending a bit of money, it’s not a bad option either.
It’s only at level four where I think the amount of content included in the paid course is significantly better than the free material and would be worth purchasing for most learners.
Coffee Break Spanish is a great resource. However, it’s primarily input based, where you’re listening to the lessons and not necessarily producing the language yourself.
For that reason, I’d strongly suggest finding an affordable tutor or practicing your writing on italki.
The free lessons might also combine well with a paid subscription to Pimsleur. Pimsleur primarily focuses on listening and speaking but doesn’t include nearly as many explanations as Coffee Break Spanish. Used together, it could be a very balanced approach to Spanish.
Regardless, Coffee Break Spanish offers excellent free lessons and those that really like them may find that purchasing the courses to be worth it for them.