Nowadays you have to be some kind of connoisseur to order a cup of coffee. With so many variations, it can be hard to choose one, so you just stand at the coffee shop looking like a deer in headlights. The options were simple. Black, sugar, or cream. But now we have become more sophisticated as human beings and found a way to blend coffee into countless amazing aromas that can be combined with cinnamon, nutmeg, and more appetizing spices.
If you are one of those people battling to get a handle on what an espresso is and how to even go about ordering this beverage, read on. We will look at all the common terminologies, and how you can look like a professional the next time you order from your favorite corner café.
First and foremost, espresso is quite literally an express shot of coffee poured into the perfect single-ounce dose. The point is not to take an espresso shot like you would with tequila. You can if you really want to, but this is only useful if you are in a rush or you wanted to add hair to your chest. Otherwise, espresso can be enjoyed in several different ways. One shot of espresso is called a single. Two shots are called a doppio or a double shot. You can have either of these variations on their own, or you can combine them with extra water. You then get a long pull, which is a standard espresso shot but with twice the amount of water.
The most common order of espresso is a single shot, with one of the following differences that we will look at in a moment. Next, you get the red-eye. Instead of just a normal espresso shot, you get a standard drip cup of a weaker coffee blend added. It’s a nice neutral taste for those that aren’t used to the strong taste of espresso. Now, if you want to be adventurous, you also get the black-eye and dead-eye. The black-eye is one drip cup serving for every two espresso shots. The dead-eye is three shots of espresso. Either of these types of espresso shots is certain to get you up and moving for the day.
Most similar to the long-pull, the Americano is a single espresso shot with five ounces of hot water. This amount only slightly dilutes the strong taste of the espresso, but you can make it stronger by asking for a doppio Americano (two shots of espresso to four ounces of water). The Americano is said to have originated from the second World War. Created by European baristas for the American soldiers serving in the war, the blend was named after the crew. Apparently, the traditional coffee blends in Italy were considered too strong for the American war heroes, so it has to be diluted with water.
In America today, this popular beverage is now often drunk with milk or cream and sugar, instead of the traditional way it was designed. With such an interesting story of its origins, it makes you wonder how strong the Italians truly preferred their morning brew back in the day. For those specialists that know how to order an espresso, the ristretto is the strongest blend of coffee currently known to man.
This beverage has a pretty cool history. It is called cappuccino, after the color of a Capuchin monk’s robe. Starting with a dark shot of espresso at the bottom, steamed milk is added in the middle, followed by milk foam. The density of the bean roast and water mixture in comparison to the lightness of the milk and foam separate each ingredient into neat layers. The colors blend from dark to golden, to white, and the Viennese from the 19th century named this combination after the similarity from the monks’ robes.
Over the years it has been argued as to what the best measurements are for each of the three ingredients, but everyone seems to have their own idea. When you order this beverage, you will probably get an equal amount of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. You can vary the taste and strength depending on how strong or creamy you want your coffee. Ask for a double shot or doppio to lessen the amount of foam and steamed milk, or the other way around for a less intense taste with hot milk and foam. Some restaurants also offer this popular beverage with freshly whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkles on top.
The term caffé latte translates directly into coffee and milk. Now if you were in Italy and wanted a single shot of espresso, you could order just a caffé. If you wanted a coffee and milk, you would order a caffé macchiato. It varies a bit depending on where in the world you order your coffee from, but most places just call them caffé lattes.
Very much like the cappuccino, a caffé latte is two shots of espresso with one equal part of steamed milk and only a small dollop of milk foam on top. This blend is mostly just coffee and milk and started in Italy around the 1800s.
Whereas a cappuccino and most other espresso drinks are served in small cups, a caffé latte is poured into a much larger mug to accommodate for more espresso and milk. Some people enjoy their caffé latte iced, which is the normal two shots of espresso but with cold milk poured over ice blocks. Many iced caffe lattes can be ordered with syrup or sugar if you’re craving something sweet.
This one is perfect for sitting around a fire in the dead of winter when you want something warm and chocolatey, but with a special balance of coffee beans. Although in the past, mocha was referred to as coffee interchangeably, it is vastly different. The name came from the town of Al Moka situated in a small port of Yemen. The Moka beans come from a special mountain part of central Yemen. The beans were cross-pollinated with other Arabica coffee beans to give them the unique taste they are so well known for.
The regular mocha starts with a double espresso. A medium layer of chocolate syrup is then poured on top, followed by steamed milk. If you want to go a bit further, you can ask for whipped cream. While you’re at it, ask for a cherry on top. Some people like to swap the whipped cream for marshmallows, and you can add as much chocolate syrup as your heart desires.
If you are looking for a relatively quick but strong drink that you can enjoy on your morning commute, then the flat white is for you. This is a single espresso shot with two parts foam. You can alternate it with steamed milk, or go for a different blend, the breve.
The breve is just coffee and cream but with half-and-half milk instead of full cream milk. Most people looking out for their weight will switch from a cappuccino to a breve or flat white without sugar. It’s one of the least common variations of espresso beverages because people want to be able to enjoy their coffee without limiting their tastebuds.
Talk Like a Barista
Once you have learned the bare essentials of different espresso drinks, you can move on to the more complicated orders that you often hear on movies and television. For one, the famous upside-down just means that the drinks are poured in the opposite order. For example, a macchiato will have the milk and foam added first while the espresso goes in last. Sometimes this won’t work if you want whipped cream because it will just become a big heap of mess.
Ordering a skinny anything means that you want no sugar or fat. A skinny is only ever ordered if you want caramel, chocolate or vanilla added as it cuts down the overall number of calories by alternating with non-fat and low sugar ingredients. If you ask for something to be light, it means you want just a bit less than is normally served. At places like Starbucks, you will see the word Lte written before whatever you asked for less of. For instance, an iced caffe latte with less ice will show caffee latte Lte ice.
Ever heard of affogato-style frappuccino? This is just a fancy way of asking for a cappuccino but with gelato or ice cream on top. Half-caf simple means less caffeine in your drink but without jeopardizing the original taste and flavor. No matter the strength, blend, taste, or temperate, you can add pretty much anything you want to an espresso shot.
Ordering a shot of anything to do with an espresso in a café can be daunting with all the weird and wonderful terms that have been created over the centuries. Once you understand the basics, it’s just about changing the ingredients slightly to get the best combination of coffee, milk, and sweet goodness to find your perfect cup.