People love coffee. Really though, “love” may actually be the wrong word. Adore, obsessed, passionate or worship are probably more accurate. Just take a quick look at the coffee quotes on Pinterest and you get a sense of that common obsession. For many people, coffee is both a necessity and a treat all at the same time, delivering pleasure and purpose all in one delicious, decadent, delightful drink.
In recent years, coffee culture has become a little over the top. People talk about coffee the same way they talk about wine. What region it’s from, flavors, notes, boldness, small roasters, fair trade or direct trade. But what if we just want to know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino?? Maybe we just want to know what our favorite drink is at the coffeehouse and how to order it! Maybe we just want a quick caffeine fix with some frothy milk and sugar. Is that too much to ask?!
No. No, it’s not. So for those coffee lovers ready to sip some intermediate coffee knowledge, here is a quick list of definitions for the most common coffeehouse drinks. Drop one of these on your friendly neighborhood barista and savor the moment that he or she totally knows what you’re talking about. And you totally do too.
A strong, concentrated coffee made by forcing pressurized water through finely ground coffee beans. Served in a small cup called a demitasse, and meant to be taken quickly, like a shot. *Many people pronounce it ex-presso, which is incorrect.
A single shot of espresso added to a cup of hot water. Many like to drink this as they would a regular brewed coffee with milk and sugar. Purists say to keep milk to a minimum to get the most flavor from the espresso.
Equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk. Usually served straight up without any flavoring, but the foam is often sprinkled with powdered chocolate or cinnamon.
Also called a café latte, this drink is a single shot of espresso with three parts steamed milk. It is usually bigger than a cappuccino because it contains more milk and can be ordered with flavoring – usually vanilla, hazelnut or caramel.
Espresso with either steamed milk or foamed milk (depending on the coffeehouse), and flavoring. The most common combination is the caramel macchiato – espresso, vanilla, steamed milk, drizzled with caramel.
Also called a café mocha, this drink is widely varied depending on the coffeehouse making it. Most commonly it is espresso, steamed milk, chocolate syrup and whipped cream.
Café Au Lait
kaf-ey oh ley
This is a traditional French drink made with brewed coffee instead of espresso. Equal parts coffee and steamed milk, this is considered a weaker version of a latte and is often served with breakfast or desserts.
And now you’re armed with the basics. Different coffee chains or independent coffeehouses offer their versions of each of these and probably many other unique drinks such as the ice blended coffees. But at least you have your foundation and soon you’ll be talking about single origins and pour-overs. We’ll get to those in part 2 coming soon.