Coffee Terminology

Coffee Vocabulary Is Almost A Must For Ordering

With many coffeehouses boasting 30 flavors and more, not counting the mix ins like flavored creams, it can be a bit difficult to decide which to choose. With everything from espresso and Cuban coffee to café au lait and cappuccino becoming mainstays right along with a regular cup of Joe, it’s become somewhat necessary to have a basic understanding of the coffeehouse jargon to order.

No two coffee flavors are exactly alike, and to find the one that will hit the spot, requires an ability to decipher “foreign sounding” names and understand what they mean.

So, to help the next time you stop at your local coffee spot, here is a basic vocabulary lesson. Remember, names can vary and can even get quite complicated. Say triple mocha latte espresso three times fast and you’ll see!

Some of the most common terms you’ll see in coffeehouses include:

Drip coffee. This means nothing more than brewed coffee. It’s generally the basic, run of the mill coffee.

Barista. This is the fancy name for the person behind the counter that expertly blends and mixes different cups of coffee to a customer’s taste.

Espresso. This is an Italian creation that’s served small because it packs a real punch. Made using beans that are roasted to their absolute extreme of darkness, this coffee is also used as a base for others such as lattes and mochas.

Café latte. This contains espresso mixed with steamed milk and generally topped off with foamed milk. It can be iced and flavored, too, for a real treat.

Breve latte. This is the same as regular latte except it’s made with half-and-half for extra richness.

Café mocha. This is a combination of espresso and chocolate syrup. It’s usually served with whipped cream and sprinkles for an added touch.

Cappuccino. Kind of a watered down espresso, this is made using equal parts of espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk.

Café au lait. This is nothing more than drip coffee with hot milk and a fancy name.

It used to be there were only a few kinds of coffee to choose from: black, creamed, sugared or all of the above. Now, with most coffeehouses offering everything from mochas and lattes to espresso and beyond, there’s a need to be able to navigate the menus to find that perfect cup of coffee. Whether you like it sweet, straight up or with a cinnamon stick in the mix, there’s a coffee for everyone. The key to finding the best is having an idea of what to order!