Ever wonder what all the different coffee drinks are that you see on coffee house menus? Here are some explanations I have gathered:
Americano: A single shot of espresso with about 7 ounces of hot water added to the mix. The name for this coffee drink stemmed from an insult to ‘uncouth’ Americans who weren’t up to drinking full espressos.
Black coffee: A drip brew, percolated or French press style coffee served straight, with no milk.
Cafe au Lait: Similar to Caffe Latte, except that an au lait is made with brewed coffee instead of espresso. Additionally, the ratio of milk to coffee is 1:1, making for a much less intense taste.
Cafe Breva: A cappuccino made with half and half milk, instead of whole milk. The theory is that the mix gives a richer, creamier flavor. You should be aware, before trying this for yourself, that half and half is much harder to foam.
Caffe Latte: Essentially, a single shot of espresso in steamed (not frothed) milk. The ratio of milk to coffee should be about 3:1, but you should be aware that latte in Italian means ‘milk’, so be careful ordering one when in Rome.
Cafe Macchiato: A shot of espresso with steamed milk added. The ratio of coffee to milk is approximately 4:1.
Cappuccino: Usually equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk, often with cinnamon or flaked chocolate sprinkled on top. Some coffee shops will add more milk than that so that the customer will get a bigger drink out of the deal, but that makes the coffee itself far weaker.
Double, or Double Shot: Just as it sounds, this is two shots of espresso mixed in with the regular amount of additional ingredients. So, for example, if you were going to make a double hammerhead, you would put two shots of espresso into a coffee cup, and fill it with the drip blend, rather than the usual single espresso shot.
Dry Cappuccino: A regular cappuccino, only with a smaller amount of foam, and no steamed milk at all.
Espresso Con Panna: Your basic standard espresso with a shot of whipped cream on top.
Flavored coffee: A very much ethnic tradition, syrups, flavorings, and/or spices are added to give the coffee a tinge of something else. Chocolate is the most common additive, either sprinkled on top or added in syrup form, while other favorites include cinnamon, nutmeg, and Italian syrups.
Frappe: A big favorite in parts of Europe and Latin America, especially during the summer months. Originally a cold espresso, it has more recently been prepared putting 1-2 teaspoons of instant coffee with sugar, water and ice. The brew is placed in a long glass with ice, and milk if you like, turning it into a big coffee milkshake.
Hammerhead: A real caffeine fix, this drink consists of a shot of espresso in a regular-sized coffee cup, which is then filled with drip coffee. Also known as a Shot in the Dark, although many cafes rename the drink further to suit their own needs.
Iced coffee: A regular coffee served with ice, and sometimes milk and sugar.
Indian (Madras) filter coffee: A common brew in the south of India, Indian filter coffee is made from rough ground, dark-roasted coffee Arabica or Peaberry beans. It’s drip-brewed for several hours in a traditional metal coffee filter before being served. The ratio of coffee to milk is usually 3:1.
Instant coffee (or soluble coffee): These grounds have usually been freeze-dried and turned into soluble powder or coffee granules. Basically, instant coffee is for those that prefer speed and convenience over quality. Though some prefer instant coffee to the real thing, there’s just no accounting for taste.
Irish coffee: A coffee spiked with Irish whiskey, with cream on top. An alcoholic beverage that’s best kept clear of the kids, but warms you up plenty on a cold winter night.
Kopi Tubruk: An Indonesian-style coffee that is very similar to Turkish and Greek in that it’s very thick, but the coarse coffee grounds are actually boiled together with a solid piece of sugar. The islands of Java and Bali tend to drink this brew.
Lungo: One for the aficionados, this is an extra long pull that allows somewhere around twice as much water as normal to pass through the coffee grounds usually used for a single shot of espresso. In technical terms, it’s a 2-3 ounce shot.
Melya: A coffee mixed with 1 teaspoon of unsweetened powdered cocoa and drizzled honey. Sometimes served with cream.
Mocha: This popular drink is basically a Cappuccino or Latte with chocolate syrup added to the mix. Sweeter, not as intense in coffee flavor, and a good ‘gateway’ coffee for those who don’t usually do the caffeine thing.
Oliang/Oleng: A stronger version of Thai coffee, Oliang is a blend of coffee and other ingredients such as corn, soy beans, and sesame seeds. Traditionally brewed with a “tung tom kah fe”, or a metal ring with a handle and a muslin-like cloth bag attached.
Ristretto: The opposite of a Lungo, the name of this variety of coffee means ‘restricted’, which means less water is pushed through the coffee grounds than normal, even though the shot would take the same amount of time as normal for the coffee maker to pull. If you want to get technical, it’s about a 0.75 ounce pull.
Turkish Coffee (also known as Greek Coffee): Made by boiling finely ground coffee and water together to form a muddy, thick coffee mix. In fact, the strongest Turkish coffee can almost keep a spoon standing upright. It’s often made in what’s known as an Ibrik, a long-handled, open, brass or copper pot. It is then poured, unfiltered, into tiny Demitasse cups, with the fine grounds included. It’s then left to settle for a while before serving, with sugar and spices often added to the cup.
Vietnamese style coffee: A drink made by dripping hot water though a metal mesh, with the intense brew then poured over ice and sweetened, condensed milk. This process uses a lot more coffee grounds and is thus a lot slower than most kinds of brewing.