Have you ever walked into a coffee shop and wondered what the heck all those things on the menu were? Here’s a crash course on some of the most mysterious and misunderstood drinks on coffee shop menus everywhere. You’ll find a little glossary of other coffee shop terms, compiled by yours truly, here. If you’re ever at a coffee shop when they’re slow, take the opportunity to ask your barista questions. Chances are they’d rather talk to you than sweep the floor. Also, feel free to leave any coffee shop questions you have in the comments section since I have some coffee shop experience under my belt.
- Espresso (es-PRESS-o) – A strong flavored coffee made by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans. One “shot” of espresso is approximately one fluid ounce. It contains approximately 75mg of caffeine, compared to the 200-300mg of caffeine in the typical 16 oz. cup of coffee from a coffee shop, 100mg in 16 oz. of tea, and 35-40mg in a 12 oz. can of cola. (source) The light brown froth on the top of a shot of espresso is called the crema and contains much of the coffee’s flavor.
- Macchiato (mah-kee-AH-tow) – From the Italian word for “marked,” a shot of espresso topped with a dollop of froth from steamed milk. This is different from the popular Starbucks drink, the caramel macchiato, which is a vanilla latte “marked” with caramel syrup.
- Con Panna (kone PAH-nuh) – A shot of espresso topped with whipped cream.
- Americano (uh-mare-i-KAH-no) – Hot water topped with one or more shots of espresso.
- Latte (LAH-tay) – Espresso topped with steamed milk. A small amount of froth may be found on top of the drink. Most coffee houses offer skim, 2%, or soy milk. Sweetened flavors, such as caramel, vanilla, or hazelnut, can be added.
- Breve (BREH-vay) – A latte made with half-and-half.
- Cappuccino (kap-uh-CHEE-no) – At most coffee shops, this is a latte with extra froth on top. At pickier coffee shops, it will be 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 froth.
- Mocha (MOH-kuh) – A latte with added chocolate, or hot chocolate with added espresso. Most coffee shops offer regular and white chocolate. Flavored syrups can also be added. Many coffee shops will have menu items that combine chocolate and other flavors, such as a “s’more mocha,” which is chocolate and marshmallow, or a “turtle mocha,” which might be chocolate, caramel, and hazelnut.
- Cafe au Lait (cah-FAY oh LAY) – Half coffee and half steamed milk.
- Chai (chI) – This might be called a “chai latte” or even a “chai tea latte” on some menus. The funny thing is, “chai” means “tea” and “latte” means “milk,” so if you’re ordering a chai tea latte, you’re ordering a “tea tea milk.” It is a sweet Indian drink made with black tea, milk, and spices that may include ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper. Most coffee shops, even in India, use a flavored syrup to make this. It’s still good, but it’s not too difficult to make a batch of homemade chai. I’ll be sharing how to do that soon!
What is your favorite coffee shop drink?
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