COFFEE TERMS | How to order coffee


The two most common ones are a cappuccino and a latte. A cappuccino has 1 shot of espresso and equal amounts of foam and steamed milk, and a latte also has a shot of espresso but then only steamed milk is added. To tailor that order further, you can order a cappuccino either wet or dry. A wet cap has slightly more steamed milk than foam, and a dry cap has slightly more foam than milk. It's a very subtle difference, and there are no set rules on how much "slightly more" is. If you want a richer cappuccino, order a "breve" instead, which is made with heavy cream instead of milk. You can also order an Americano, which is a shot of espresso in a cup of hot water. Similar to regular coffee, but the flavor is more intense. Heard of a macchiato? That's a shot of espresso with just a dollop of hot foamed milk on top. Sizes at Starbucks Though this could apply to any coffeeshop, Starbucks is kind of known for their odd size names so some explanation is in order. A small coffee is about 8oz, like a coffee cup at home (more or less), and is called a short. Next size is 12oz, and called a tall. After that, is the grande (16oz) and then the venti (20oz). Many people assume that a "tall" is the large size, but it's really just a step up from the small one.

Other Coffeehouse Terms Another popular variation is the "half-caf" which is a step between a regular coffee and a decaf. Ordering a skinny means its made with non-fat milk, and can apply to either coffee or espresso drinks. Using terms like single, double or even triple can mean different things but usually refers to how many shots of espresso are in a drink. A single is just a regular one, but you could order a double cappuccino that has twice as much espresso in it. Two others worth mentioning in coffee ordering terminology that are less common: the lungo and the ristretto. These both reflect the length of an espresso pull, and are really only used by coffee-experts or people who want to sound fancy. A lungo is a shot pulled longer than usual, which gives a less concentrated shot. And the ristretto is the opposite, a smaller and more concentrated shot of espresso. Most of these terms are fairly simple to understand, but you can easily get lost when you hear people stringing them all together to order a venti half-caf skinny double latte.

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  • Bill McClure