What is the difference between a latte, a macchiato and other coffee drinks?

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Ordering coffee can be intimidating at times, especially if you don’t know your lattes from your mokas. That’s why we’ve created this handy coffee glossary. Armed with these definitions, you’ll never be short of what to order!

From simple variations of espresso and lattes to mochas you never knew existed, we have them all! Whether you like your coffee strong and bitter, or sweet with sweet notes, there is a perfect version with your name on it.

So, let’s solve this coffee riddle once and for all and order fine coffee like a pro!

What’s the buzz about fancy coffee drinks?

These days, cafes are literally everywhere. If you live in a big city, it can sometimes seem like there is one on every corner.

When it comes to high quality ingredients and unique recipes, small, local cafes definitely have the edge. They also typically offer seasonal drinks and skilled baristas, who deliver exceptional customer service and expertly crafted drinks.

Whether you’re looking for a place to work on this scenario or just need to escape your home for an hour or two, your local cafe is probably the perfect solution

In the digital age, having a physical location you can go to whenever you need a break is fantastic. Cafes offer not only this escape, but also premium coffee selections, fresh and full-bodied.

The only small problem is the menu. It often looks like an endless list of elaborate drinks with confusing names. Knowing what it is is a bit of a learning curve. So let’s go ahead and help ourselves make sense of all these different caffeinated goodies.

Basics of coffee ordering

If you find yourself feeling intimidated by looking at this long list of complex coffee concoctions, you are definitely not alone. Damn, there are some we still can’t pronounce. However, ordering coffee is really a learning-as-you-go business.

Let’s start with an essential ingredient that is used in many coffee cocktails: espresso. Espresso is a finely ground, concentrated coffee that is brewed under high pressure and in almost boiling water.

It’s either enjoyed as a one- or two-ounce shot, or used as a base for several other drinks you’ll find on cafe menus. From lattes and macchiatos to mochas, you name it, there’s probably a shot of espresso in it.

You will notice that some of our descriptions below use the word “shoot” or “shoot”. It describes when hot pressurized water is forced through fine coffee grounds and poured (or pulled) into a cup.

The time it takes to “pull” an espresso results in different flavors. For example, an espresso variant like Lungo takes a bit longer and uses more water to draw.

Whether you like bold, strong, or lightly flavored coffee, there are plenty of options. The way a barista prepares it and the ingredients they use all significantly affect the result. Once you know which types match your favorite flavor palette, try them all over time. You will probably stumble upon a new favorite!

Of course, if in doubt, the barista behind the counter should be able to help you figure out what to order. Still, this coffee glossary should give you a head start:

  • Espresso: A concentrated subset of coffee made by projecting highly pressurized, very hot water through finely ground, evenly packaged coffee beans. Espresso, sometimes referred to as “short black,” is served in a one-ounce serving that is drawn with about 30 milliliters of water for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Double: Also called double espresso, these are two ounces or two doses of espresso, usually served in a half cup.
  • Limit: A high quality, shorter espresso made from finely ground beans and less water, resulting in a more concentrated and sweeter little shot.
  • Long: This espresso variant means “long” in Italian. The name refers to the time (up to a minute) it takes to “shoot” this version. The volume looks like a doppio, however, the flavor is not as strong. It is a bit more bitter due to the increased amount of water.
  • American: A shot of espresso added to about three ounces of hot water.
  • Long black: Two shots of espresso added to about three ounces of hot water.
  • Macchiato: Espresso and steamed milk. These are however more robust than a latte, due to the amount of milk added. Traditionally, they are served with a dose of espresso and 1 to 2 tablespoons of steamed milk. Today, however, especially in the United States, these have a very milky flavor and are usually loaded with other flavors, like caramel.
  • Red eyes : A shot of espresso in a standard cup of brewed coffee.
  • Black eye: Two shots of espresso in a standard cup of brewed coffee.
  • Cappuccino: A deliciously smooth and rich drink that starts with 1 to 2 shots of espresso, followed by steamed milk. Milk froth and dusted cocoa powder are often used as a garnish.
  • Coffeeis mocha: It’s like hot chocolate on steroids. It is composed of a dose of espresso, chocolate syrup and steamed milk. It is usually topped with whipped cream or mousse.
  • Café latte: “Latte” means Italian milk, so it’s no surprise that this drink consists of a shot of espresso, about eight ounces of steamed milk, and an inch of foam. For sweeter options, there are several variations, including caramel, vanilla, and the ever-popular pumpkin spice. In the United States, most just order a latte, and it’s understood that they really want a latte.
  • Coffee with milk: French for “café au lait”, this drink is exactly that: one part brewed coffee and one part steamed milk. It is traditionally brewed with a French press.
  • Cold infusion: This cold coffee is made by soaking coarsely ground beans in cold or room temperature water for about 12 to 24 hours. This creates a smoother, smoother brew than iced coffee.
  • Iced coffee: Brewed coffee cooled and served on ice.
  • Hit: A shot of espresso mixed with ice cubes, milk and sugar. It’s like a coffee-infused milkshake, and it’s often flavored with chocolate or caramel syrups.
  • Moroccan coffee: This layered drink consists of dark chocolate powder, espresso and milk froth. Some variations sprinkle the cup with cocoa powder first, while others sprinkle the foam. Some versions also use hot chocolate for a more mocha touch.
  • Flat white: One shot of espresso, combined with four ounces of steamed milk. When done right, it should have a smooth, creamy texture without any foam. This is done by using the milk from the bottom of a steam jug, rather than the top.
  • Manila: Similar to a white dish, it consists of espresso and a very small amount (usually around three ounces) of steamed milk.
  • Drowned: A delicious marbled coffee dessert made by pouring hot, cool espresso over a scoop of vanilla ice cream or gelato. It is often garnished with chocolate or nut shavings.

Talk about a list of delicious drinks! Now you will never be stumped at the coffee counter again. We would love to know which of these has sparked your interest and, in the meantime, take the opportunity to work your way through this delicious list!