Latte, cappuccino, cortado, oh my! Have you ever stared at a coffee shop’s menu and wondered what the heck half the items are?
Or maybe you’re feeling adventurous, ready to try a new drink, but there’s so many types of coffee drinks that you don’t know where to start?
Here we’re defining all the various coffee drinks so you can order with confidence.
This guide will be simple and straightforward to help you quickly choose your next drink and have an idea of what you’ll receive. If you want to learn more about each drink, stick around the site!
There’s more and more coffee help here (and coming!).
A Complete Guide to Coffee Drinks
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We have tons more information on many of these drinks as well as comparison posts but to give you a genearl idea of the most common coffee drinks, here you go!
This one doesn’t need much explanation – black coffee is simply a mix of water and coffee! There’s no milk or sugar added. (Unless you add it yourself, of course.)
The French name for black coffee is “café noir,” which is good to know if you’re feeling fancy or just want to annoy your spouse by insisting they call it by its proper name.
A shot of espresso is approximately one ounce of highly concentrated coffee, prepared by forcing boiling water through ground, dark roast coffee beans. It’s sometimes call a “short black.” Espresso is the base for many of the following drinks.
Find out all you need to know about espresso here!
(Find the 5 best espresso beans on Amazon here and learn about Shaken Espresso here!)
A doppio (“double” in Italian) is simply two shots of espresso. Double the espresso, double the caffeine, double the drink – generally 60 ml of liquid.
The word ristretto is Italian for “restrict.” (Or “narrow” or “limited.”) That is exactly what happens when making this drink! The amount of water that flows into the cup is restricted, which is the key when it comes to this type of espresso.
A ristretto is like an espresso, using the same amount of coffee that is more finely ground and just half the water.
Ristretto has a rich and sweet flavor, with a lot of crema. It tends to be much darker and denser than standard espresso. Many baristas prefer ristretto for milk-and-coffee hot or iced drinks. Its intensity easily cuts through the flavor of the milk.
*Find out the difference between a ristretto and a long shot here!
A lungo is a long pull espresso (it’s also referred to as a Long Shot) is the opposite of a ristretto meaning the same amount of espresso with more water.
While a normal shot of espresso is pulled for 18 to 30 seconds, a lungo may be extracted for up to a minute, depending on bean type and pressure of the machine.
Longer extraction means that more sediment is dissolved from the coffee puck. It also translates to more water in the cup.
A Long Shot has a 1:3 dose ratio, meaning that 18 grams of ground coffee yield a 54-gram coffee drink, or about 2 ounces in volume. This process takes nearly twice as long as a traditional espresso extraction.
There is a thin crema, and the color tends to be pale compared to espresso.
A latte is what we order most often when we go to a coffee shop! At its core, a latte is a single or double shot of espresso and steamed milk (typically 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk). It also has a layer of foam on top (unlike the flat white) where you’ll often find latte art.
Lattes are extremely customizable, from adding shots of flavoring syrup (think vanilla, peppermint and caramel) to choosing your preferred milk (whole, skim, oat, almond, soy). And who doesn’t love a seasonal drink? Hello, pumpkin spice latte!
A latte is also often called a caffe latte or cafe au lait.
Find out even more about lattes here!
Prefer your shot of espresso with just a touch of milk? Order a macchiato.
A traditional espresso macchiato is made by dribbling a tiny dot of steamed milk on top of a single shot of espresso. The Italian word “macchiato” literally means “stained,” which, in this case, is exactly what the milk is doing to the coffee.
This drink is for you if you want to take the edge off of straight espresso.
A traditional macchiato is usually served as a single shot. In some cases, it can be prepared as a Long (Double) Macchiato. A double is the same drink, only more of it.
Want to know the difference between a macchiato and a mocha? Head here!
Love your froth? Then a cappuccino is your drink! A cappuccino is made with espresso and equal parts steamed or foamed milk. It’s a smaller volume drink compared to a latte. As you can probably tell by its name, cappuccinos originated in Italy.
A flat white is similar to a latte, but with less milk that is frothed for a velvety feel. This results in a slightly smaller volume drink (compared to a latte) with a higher proportion of coffee to milk.
Want more flat white details? Head to this post for everything you need to know about a flat white.
Or head here to learn about a flat white vs a latte!
Need an extra jolt of caffeine – enough to theoretically keep you awake through a red eye flight? A red eye is a cup of drip coffee mixed with a shot of espresso.
If a red eye isn’t quite cutting it, go for a black eye: a cup of drip coffee mixed with two shots of espresso. (Not for the faint of heart, caffeine-wise.)
Hey, sweet tooths! This one’s for you. A mocha is similar to a latte (espresso + hot milk), but with chocolate, added via cocoa powder or chocolate syrup.
Think of a mocha as a grown-up hot chocolate. The name derives from Mocha, Yemen, a city that was one of the centers of early coffee trade.
Like a macchiato, there are also several variations of a cafe mocha. But they aren’t nearly as confusing. Most are superficial and have to do with the toppings.
Cafe mocha is served as a 10-12 ounce drink. Espresso is mixed with chocolate syrup at the bottom of the cup. Steamed milk is added. In many cases, it’s topped with whipped cream and shaved chocolate on top or even a chocolate syrup drizzle on top.
An Americano is very similar to black coffee; it’s an espresso shot diluted with hot water. Taste and strength can vary, however, depending on how much water you add. It typically has a similar strength to a traditional drip coffee but the flavor oftentimes is different.
An Americano is made with either one or two shots of espresso and is often called a Caffe Americano. It typically has a 2 to 1 ratio of water to espresso (2 parts water to 1 part espresso) however every coffee shop and every barista is different, making drinks in their own ways.
If you go to Starbucks and order an Americano, you’ll get something more like 3 parts water to 1 part coffee making it much more similar to a drip cup of coffee.
Cortado (or Gibraltar)
A cortado = equal parts espresso and steamed milk. They are best for a quick hit of espresso without the acidity. Remember cortados this way: cortado is the past participle of the Spanish verb cortar, meaning “to cut.” (You may also see them called gibraltars.)
With cortado, you’ll still experience the bold flavor of espresso. Only at a lesser intensity than drinking a straight shot. The steamed milk also adds a sweet taste and silky smooth mouthfeel to the cup.
When ordering a cortado, expect to finish it quickly. It’s not a large drink, a fact that many surprised customers are quick to point out to their local barista. And it’s served at a cooler temperature than other milk-espresso combinations.
The other signature of a cortado vs latte is that has very little foam on cortados.
*Find all there is to know about a cortado here!
Café au Lait
No one likes when milk cools off coffee too much, so that’s where café au laits come in. A café au lait (French for “coffee with milk”) is simply coffee with a splash of hot milk.
A galão is a Portuguese drink that’s very similar to a latte or cappuccino. It’s a mix of espresso (one quarter) and foamed milk (three quarters) served in a tall glass.
The first time I had an affogato was a New Year’s Eve – the best NYE of my life. An affogato is a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a shot of espresso. It’s the perfect post-dinner treat.
For a touch of something sweet, consider a miel, which is essentially a latte with a healthy dose of honey added. They are oftentimes topped with a dash of cinnamon.
A breve (“short” in Italian) is an espresso-based drinking similar to a cappuccino, but made with steamed half-and-half instead of milk. The half-and-half produces a very creamy foam, for a slightly more decadent drink without any added sugar.
So next time you’re wanting to try something new, you’ll have a much better idea of all the different types of coffee drinks to make an excellent next choice!
Wondering what the difference is between a breve and a latte? Head here!
Want a deep dive look into a breve? This post is all about the breve.