The Language of Coffee

Sep 19, 2017 by

If you’re relatively new to the coffee world—or even if you’re not—the language can be a bit confusing. There are traditional terms and then there’s the marketing language that some cafes (usually chains) throw in to confuse things just a little bit more. Frazzatazzchocolatte, anyone?

Here’s a look at some of the lingo worth knowing to decipher a menu at your local coffee joint.

Americano – Sometimes “café Americano.” A shot (or two) of espresso poured into a cup, which is then filled with up to seven ounces of hot water

Barista – Your best friend. Also, the person operating the espresso machine. In Italian, it means “bartender” and is a respected career.

Blend – A mixture of two or more individual varietals of coffee

Cafe au Lait –A smooth beverage of half drip-brewed coffee and half steamed milk

Caffe Breve –A latte made with half-and-half instead of milk

Caffe Coretto –An espresso with liquor added, often brandy or a liqueur

Caffe Latte –Espresso with steamed milk and a thin layer of foam on the top

Caffe Mocha — Can be prepared a variety of ways. Basically, it’s a chocolate caffè latte—espresso mixed with chocolate and steamed milk and topped with whipped cream.

Cappuccino–Espresso mixed with steamed milk and topped with foam.

Cold brew — Coffee made by steeping in cold water than by brewing with hot water.

Crema –The caramel-colored layer of foam that sits on top of a well-drawn espresso. It should remain for at least one minute.

Cupping – Sampling wines is called “tasting”, tasting coffee is called “cupping

Doppio –A double shot of espresso.

Espresso – A brewing method that extracts the most flavor from the bean. A machine forces hot water through espresso grounds and takes about 20 seconds to extract a good shot. See also, heaven in a cup.

Espresso Lungo – A shot that is pulled long for a bit of extra espresso.

Espresso Macchiato –Espresso “marked” or “stained” by milk foam.

Flat –No foam.

Pull –Used as a verb to describe brewing an espresso—”pulling a shot.”

Red Eye — Espresso poured into drip coffee.

Ristretto –A shot of espresso that is cut off at short when the crema turns light brown

Steam Wand
–The metal tube on an espresso machine that froths milk

Straight Shot – A purist’s drink—an espresso served without milk, steamed milk, or foam

Tamping –The process of pressing the grounds into the portafilter.

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