When we walk into a local coffee shop, it is often easy to become overwhelmed by the list of words under “coffee.” Latte? Macchiato? Is there an English version of this menu? That’s not to mention the different variations we are given with which we can spice up our favorite drinks. Here, I’ve provided you with a basic break-down of the classic coffee drinks so that you will never again have to blindly pick one of the items off the menu and hope it’s a coffee flavored with vanilla that has that fancy dollop of foamed milk on top.

Photo by Jillian Furber



Espresso in its intense, purest form has previously been more popular in Europe, though the espresso-craze has finally hit America. Blended from several roasts, espresso is meant to have a bold flavor that earns it the popular name of an “espresso shot.” It is made of finely ground coffee that is tightly packed into a portafilter. From this, high-pressure water is forced through the grounds and extracted in small, concentrated amounts to gain intensity. Espresso is generally served in small demitasse-style cups in four types of servings. The “ristretto,” or “short shot,” is the first 3/4-ounce of espresso that is extracted. A “single shot” is a 1-ounce shot of espresso. A “lungo,” or a “long shot,” is a 1 1/2-ounce shot. A “double shot” uses twice the amount of coffee in the portafilter, whereas the other three servings use the same single amount.


A single shot of espresso with a layer of foamed milk

~Espresso con Panna~

A single shot of espresso with a layer of whipped cream

~Café Breve~

A single shot of espresso with steamed half and half


A single shot of espresso with steamed, wet milk, sometimes layered on top with a frothy, dry foam. Cappuccinos are named for their color, which is similar to the color of the robes of Capuchin monks.

~Café Latte~

A single shot of espresso mixed with 6 to 8 ounces of steamed milk, then topped with foam. A double shot of espresso is generally used in America, as these drinks tend to be ordered in quantities of 12-oz or larger. This espresso drink is most popular in America due to its sweeter, mellower flavor.

~Flat White~

A single shot of espresso mixed with 6 to 8 ounces of steamed milk (akin to a café latte without the foam on top)

~Café Americano~

A single shot of espresso mixed with 6 to 8 ounces of hot water. The resulting flavor resembles a simple brewed coffee.

~Café Mocha~

A latte with chocolate syrup added with the steamed milk

~Iced Coffee~

A single shot of strong-brewed chilled espresso topped with your choice of milk, all poured over ice. Flavored syrups are then added, such as chocolate, caramel, or vanilla.


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