Glossary of Coffee Drink Names to Know

Espresso machine making coffee
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Reading a coffee house menu can sometimes feel like reading Greek, although more correctly, it is deciphering Italian. The following coffee and espresso drink glossary will help you navigate your way through your local cafe.

illustrate that explains common coffee drinks to know
Illustration: Colleen Tighe. © The Spruce, 2019

Coffee Drink Names

These are common coffee drink names and how they are composed:

  • Affogato: Ice cream in a shot of espresso
  • Café Americano: Equal parts espresso and hot water. It is similar in consistency to American drip brewed coffee.
  • Café Au Lait: One part coffee, one part steamed milk. It may be served with or without milk foam.
  • Café Breve: A cappuccino made with half and half instead of milk. It has equal parts of espresso, steamed half and half, and foam.
  • Café Cortado: Espresso with flat steamed milk
  • Café Latte: One part espresso, two parts steamed milk. It may or may not be served with milk foam.
  • Café Mocha: Steamed milk, espresso, and chocolate. It can be described as a café latte with chocolate or a hot cocoa with espresso. This drink is often served topped with whipped cream.
  • Café Romano: A shot of espresso served with a wedge or twist of lemon
  • Cappuccino: Equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. This drink contains less milk and is more concentrated than a café latte.
  • Cold Brew (Cold Drip) Coffee: Cold steeping is used to make a concentrate that is then diluted for iced coffee.
  • Drip Coffee: Traditional ground coffee brewed through a filter with gravity rather than pressure
  • Espresso: A very strong, concentrated coffee made with a dark roasted bean that has been brewed using pressurized steam. One regular shot of espresso is roughly one ounce.
  • Espresso con Panna: A shot of espresso topped with whipped cream
  • Flat White: Espresso with an even mix of milk and velvety microfoam. It has a smoother feel than a latte.
  • French Press Coffee: Coffee steeped in hot water in a plunger vessel. Once it has steeped long enough, you press the plunger and can pour the cup of coffee.
  • Frappe: An iced, blended beverage that may contain coffee
  • Macchiato: A shot of espresso with a dollop of milk foam. Macchiato means “mark” as in the espresso is marked with a dab of milk foam.
  • Pour-Over Coffee: Coffee brewed for a single cup by pouring boiling water into a filter basket of ground coffee over the cup. It is similar to drip coffee but is used to brew a single cup or carafe.

Coffee Terms

These terms are used to order drinks in various ways, by volume, extraction or brewing method, or components:

  • Crema: The thick, creamy, caramel colored foam that forms on top of a shot of espresso as it is brewed. Crema dissipates as a shot of espresso sits. The absence of crema on a shot indicates either a poorly made shot or a lack of freshness, either of which will negatively impact the flavor.
  • Double: Two shots of espresso or a drink made with two shots of espresso
  • Foam/Froth: The foam created when milk or cream is steamed. Good foam is thick, small celled (very small bubbles), and should not dissipate easily.
  • Long (Lungo) Shot: A shot of espresso allowed to brew longer and with more water. A long shot is usually between 2 to 3 ounces in volume. During the longer extraction, more flavor compounds are extracted from the grounds, giving it a slightly different flavor from a regular shot.
  • Short (Ristretto) Shot: A shot of espresso allowed to brew for a shorter amount of time, yielding about 3/4 ounce of liquid. The shorter brew time restricts the compounds that are extracted from the grounds. giving it a slightly different flavor from a regular shot.
  • Single: One shot of espresso or a drink made with one shot of espresso
  • Straight: A shot of espresso served without anything added