Coffee addict, connoisseur or novice, a fresh cup of aromatic coffee is the very first thing that millions of people worldwide crave and reach for every morning, and there are a variety of reasons why they do so.
Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
Caffeine is the main element in coffee that is responsible for a few reasons why so many people drink it. For starters, the caffeine content is what helps people feel stimulated and energetic by getting their blood flowing. It is not only shift-workers and those who start work early in the morning that tend to rely on coffee to get them through the day. Many people grab a coffee as their breakfast of champions and cannot see themselves surviving the grind of daily living without it.
That Coffee Craving
Caffeine is addictive, which is another reason why people drink coffee. Caffeine is one of many chemicals in coffee that contribute to its addictive properties. Caffeine withdrawal can produce headaches and irritation; therefore, many individuals would rather not stop drinking coffee. Switching to decaffeinated coffee can help those that merely enjoy the taste of coffee but do not want to consume too much caffeine.
Coffee drinkers claim that it helps them relax. While this may seem contradictory given that coffee is a stimulant, a hot cup of coffee (normal or decaf) can help people relax their senses and settle their anxieties. The relaxing effect is attributed to the stimulation of the senses, which benefits creativity and mental stimulation, according to researchers.
Coffee has become an extremely popular social drink, comparable to alcohol in terms of popularity. The neighborhood coffee shop is a great place to catch up with friends or conduct business in the mornings. People often end up drinking coffee whether they like it or not at these meetings, which helps them acquire a passion for it and subsequently become hooked. It becomes novel and exciting to try the different flavors and varieties available within the coffee world.
Different Trends to Try
Understandably, with so many trends out there, it can be daunting to know what is what on the coffee menu. From affogato, americano, and caffe latte to caffe mocha, cappuccino, espresso, flat white, frappe, Irish coffee, latte macchiato to piccolo latte and ristretto – there is a lot to choose from. So, how do you go about choosing?
One way is simply to try a different one each time you pay a visit to your friendly barista on the corner. Alternatively, you can investigate or research each type or title and decide what you think may suit your tastes. After all, the way you drink your coffee comes down to preference. There is no right or wrong.
Milky Coffee Cravings
Many people prefer milky coffee drinks, and this is clear when you look at the menus available in coffee shops. However, few people are aware of the differences among so many drinks. Most coffee shop operators like to keep things simple for everyone by providing the most well-known drinks to their customers, but this does not always allow for exploration.
When it comes to choosing your shot (of a milkier variety), the most popular ones are:
- Flat white
- Piccolo cafe
Most coffee drinkers are aware of the differences between the cappuccino and the flat white.
The perfect latte is created with one part espresso and three parts steamed milk for a beautifully creamy, velvety flavor. Most coffee drinkers know that it is a longer drink than a cappuccino since it has more milk. Many customers order it with a shot of caramel, vanilla, or hazelnut flavoring. If you're purchasing it in Italy, keep in mind that 'latte' literally means 'milk,' so to avoid any confusion, make sure to request a café latte!
Macchiatos are espresso drinks with steamed milk and foam added on top. Mochas are a combination of chocolate and espresso with a lot of steamed milk in them. They are often garnished with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, sundae syrup or sprinkles and come in a variety of tastes, including caramel and peppermint.
Many of these are widely consumed across the world, but let’s look at probably the least explored one on this list. (In doing so, the Cortado will also be discussed as a comparison).
What is a Piccolo?
Piccolo is an Italian word that means 'little' or ‘small’, but this beverage isn't just a little latte. Piccolo lattes are made with one-part ristretto shot to three or four parts steamed milk. They are normally presented in a small glass. When compared to a latte, a piccolo has a much stronger flavor profile and is particularly well suited to seasoned palates.
So, What is a Ristretto?
A ristretto is an espresso shot made with finely ground beans and less water. When it comes to espresso extractions, this is the finest of the best; it's smooth and full-bodied without the acidity that comes with longer extractions. Because of the shorter extraction period, the coffee tastes sweeter and less harsh. Ristretto means ‘limited’ in the most basic sense. In short, you're telling the barista to keep the espresso shot to a minimum in your coffee if you order a ristretto.
Since a piccolo is made with a shot of ristretto, it is essentially a great tasting smallish milky coffee.
Confusion with a Cortado
A piccolo and a cortado are two drinks that are frequently mistaken. If you want to order a piccolo in a restaurant, there's a high chance you'll get a cortado instead.
As explained, whereas a piccolo coffee contains one-part ristretto and three to four parts steamed milk, a cortado contains one part espresso and one part steamed milk. A cortado can contain up to two shots of espresso, but it must also have an equivalent amount of steamed milk. In this way, cortados are stronger than piccolo lattes in terms of coffee intensity. This is purely because a cortado contains less milk than a piccolo.
The cortado, which originated in Spain, gets its name from the verb 'cortar,' which means 'to cut,' since the milk 'cuts' through the espresso.
The piccolo latte has a 1:5 coffee-to-milk ratio, whereas the cortado has a 1:1 ratio. While both are presented in glasses, the difference lies primarily in the quantity of milk used.
Who “Invented” the Piccolo?
Sydney, Australia, is widely known as the birthplace of the piccolo latte. Baristas were experimenting with ways to test their brews with milk, but because they didn’t want to drink so much milk, they decided to add only a small amount of milk to each tasting cup. This allowed them to try a variety of flavors while also preventing dairy bloating. Piccolo coffee was born because of this.
Because the piccolo has been adopted by the Australian specialty coffee culture more than any other, it is only fair to recognize this origin.
Can You Make a Piccolo Drink at Home?
If you've never tried a piccolo, now is a good opportunity to do so. Do you own an espresso machine? You're all set to go. A piccolo drink can be successfully produced at home.
If not, you can always order a piccolo latte at your favorite coffee shop and observe the barista while they prepare it for ideas on how to make yours at home.
- Pull a ristretto shot using an espresso machine, with a brew period of 18 to 22 seconds. Depending on your machine, try using less water to get a more concentrated shot.
- Steam and froth the milk using an automatic milk frother if you have one. If not, heat milk in a container in the microwave and shake briskly to generate froth, or alternatively, heat the milk over a gentle heat on the stovetop and whisk it by hand.
- Using a smallish glass, pour in the espresso and slowly add the milk. If you have been experimenting with latte art, why not give that a go too? You'll have more surface space to play and create if you slant the glass at an angle. Serve and have fun.
- The more the piccolo is discussed and enjoyed, the more likely it is to appear on coffee shop menus.
What About Calories?
A piccolo coffee contains 45 calories on average. When compared to conventional lattes, piccolos are the lighter beverage, making it an excellent alternative for those watching their weight.
A Good Choice
So, what's the big deal? After all, they're only a few inches tall! The piccolo latte lets us savor the wonderful flavors of ristretto and milk minus the full and bloated feeling, which is ideal for those of us who prefer many refills of our favorite caffeinated beverage. Ideal if you are looking for a quick coffee fix after your meal, or if you prefer to drink a lot of beverages throughout the day that won’t be too filling each time.
The issue isn't with the drink itself; rather, it's with the fact that few folks understand what it is and how to prepare it. The more people try the piccolo, the more it will become popular in coffee shops and restaurants. Why not consider serving it as your go-to after-dinner drink at your next get-together with family and friends?