Lattes | Latte | Cappuccino | What is a Latte

Lattes | Latte | Cappuccino | What is a Latte

Bill McClure

Understanding Coffee Terminology: Latte or Cappuccino Reading the menu in a local coffee shop can be as difficult as tackling a new language, it is in fact a language all its own. Imagine hearing someone ask for a grande skinny mocha with a double shot. Most people would be clueless.

Understanding coffee terminology is important for ordering in a coffee shop or visiting a country like Paris where coffee is part of life. The terminology included here is a beginner's guide to speaking java jive at the coffee shop or sidewalk cafe in Paris.

  • Americano: Cafe Americano is a coffee drink made of espresso and hot water. Typically Americano is a shot or two of espresso poured into a cup that is considered American sized and then filled with water. Americano is basically a weakened espresso drink.
  • Cafe Au Lait: Cafe Au Lait is the French term for coffee and milk. This drink is two-thirds coffee with one-third steamed milk added to it.
  • Cappuccino: Many people mistake cappuccino for latte. However, the difference is that cappuccino is equal parts of steamed milk and froth mixed with espresso. It can be served in many flavors.
  • Latte: A latte is a drink made of espresso and steamed milk with only one or two spoons of frothed milk added.
  • Mocha: Mochas are lattes made with a mocha or dark chocolate flavoring added for taste.
  • Double, Triple or Quad: These terms refer to the number of shots of espresso that a coffee drink contains, two, three or four respectively.
  • Grande: In most coffee shops grande refers to a large coffee drink that typically has two shots of espresso.
  • Macchiato: A macchiato is a coffee drink made with espresso and an equal amount of frothed milk. • Double Dry Short: A double dry short is a double shot of espresso served in a short cup without any foam added.
  • Coffee granita: This is a cold coffee drink made of frozen milk that is shaved and added to espresso with sugar.
  • Espresso Breve: Simply an espresso served with half and half creamer.
  • Wet cap: When a wet cap is ordered the individual is asking for more steamed milk than they are froth.
  • Skinny: A skinny coffee drink is for dieters and people who don't want whole milk or cream. It is made with skim milk to save calories.
  • Shot: Shot simply refers to an espresso pull which is usually one ounce, when doubles or triples are ordered this means the drink has two or three pulls of espresso.
  • Chai Latte: A chai latte is a hot tea beverage that is made of a spicy black tea that has a variety of spices, including cinnamon and black pepper. Steamed milk is added to this wonderfully spicy tea.
  • Breve: Breves are coffee drinks made with half-and-half instead of milk as the creamer.
  • Espresso Con Pann: Espresso con pannas are an espresso shot, either single, double or triple that is topped with whipped cream before serving. Coffee terminology is important when ordering coffee in coffee shops around the world.

Simply ordering a cup of coffee will often result in blank stares as the barista awaits further instructions. While it is not necessary to know every term in the coffee world but it is worth knowing the basics in order to be able to order a perfect coffee drink.

Understanding Coffee Terminology: Latte or Cappuccino Reading the menu in a local coffee shop can be as difficult as tackling a new language, it is in fact a language all its own. 

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