Going around to my friend’s house the other evening he asked me if I’d like a coffee “black or white” he asked. “white” was my reply. He prepared and delivered an instant coffee made with 1 tea spoonful of coffee granules and hot water (in essence a typical black coffee) followed by a little cold milk to create a white coffee.
My mind began to go into overdrive and questions that my customers have asked me to confirm sprung up – what is a white coffee? What’s the difference between a latte and a cappuccino? What is a flat white?
Well here it is – plain and simple: Before I explain, I have to say that, there are idiosyncrasies in all drinks; some people will use 10oz cups, some glasses, some one shot of espresso, some double Ristretto (a short 20ml shot of strong espresso) or a Lungo (an espresso extracted for a longer time that gives more caffeine).
But what I give to you is the logical and factual approach: In a 12oz cup the industry standard is a double shot of espresso. Depending on the type of drink you are making this is then followed by:
Americano (black coffee) – A double shot of espresso and hot water. Called a black coffee or an Americano. The name Americano originated during World War II when the Americans entered Italy and when looking for a coffee (instant or filter) they were given an espresso. Water was then added to dilute its strength and make it resemble a filter coffee. The Italians called it Caffé del Americano- Coffee of the Americans.
White coffee – Your double espresso followed by hot water (as with an Americano) and this time added with a little milk (hot or cold) – this is called a white coffee.
Latte – All hot milk and a little wet foam, approx. 1 cm. This called a Café Latte. Italian for coffee with milk. A lot of the time you will find a latte served in a 10oz glass but this glass is the wrong size for the drink and is only done to create a visual layering effect. This means that the drink you are served is incorrect because a single shot of espresso in a 10oz is not enough and a double shot is too much coffee.
Cappuccino – Having first pulled your double espresso half the remaining space should be filled with hot milk and the other half with wet foam, approx. 3cm. The world over this is called a Cappuccino. Taken from the Italian order of friars, the Capuchins. The hood on their coffee coloured robe, is called a cappuccino.
Flat White – the new kid on the block. Originating in Australia and New Zealand in the 1980s the flat white is a double shot of espresso in a 6oz cup topped with hot latte style milk with or without a creamy wet foam finish (less than 1cm). Although versions vary from country to country this is now recognised by the coffee industry as a flat white.
So now, armed with this new found knowledge, go forth to your favourite establishment, get the paper, relax and enjoy your favourite cup of Joe.
Remember, never be satisfied until you have a Picasso in your cup.
Gerry Hughes – Coffee Quality Consultant
Gerry has been involved in coffee since the early noughties & is one of the most respected coffee trainers in Ireland. He recently qualified through the SCAE Coffee Diploma system and is well on the way to becoming an Authorised Speciality Trainer. Gerry’s passion for education stems beyond the coffee world as he is also a UEFA trained football coach & trains underage teams at his local football club.