One of the greatest learning curves that any coffee connoisseur experiences is how to order and remember the different espresso drinks. Between different traditions and philosophies of thought, this is not exactly the easiest task. Therefore, in order to make your experience a little more pleasant we have put together a break down description, as well as a coordinating diagram to help you get started.
Espresso [1 Ounce of Coffee]
Traditional espresso is served as a one ounce drink in a demitasse cup. As we wrote about in our latest coffee post, espresso is an extremely concentrated drink that requires patience and focus to develop the right profile of flavors. When offered a choice between a blend or single origin, we recommend asking for the single origin since it is more likely to reveal its tasting notes to you. Once you have received your drink from the barista, take some time to appreciate the crema, which is the thin and dark gold layer of coffee that you can see at the very top. This layer maintains many of the aromatic flavors that distinguishes espresso from other drinks. Another great indicator of properly extracted espresso is what is known as “tiger striping.” Tiger stripes develop as a result of the espresso steam, and looks like a reddish-brown patch of colors. When tasting espresso, some of the things you might want to looking for are the presence of sweetness, and an balanced mouth feel.
Doppio [2 Ounces of Coffee]
If you are looking for a little more coffee, but do not want drip or a pour over, then a doppio is the perfect drink for you. Keep in mind when ordering espresso that doppio is most likely what you will receive since shots are pulled in doubles at the majority of craft coffee shops. This drink is two ounces of coffee, and is also served in the traditional demitasse. We recommend using the demitasse spoon to integrate the extraction layers.
Macchiato [2 Ounces of Coffee, 1 Ounce of Milk]
One of the frequently confused orders for the novice coffee patron is the difference between all of the espresso drinks, most notably the macchiato. At the majority of chain shops, macchiato’s are served as a sweet drink, mixed with cream, espresso and caramel or hazelnut. (Roughly 6 ounces or more) However, a traditional macchiato is a three ounce drink. An easy way to remember this is that in Italian macchiato means stained or marked, and the two ounces of espresso are “marked” with a dollop of textured milk.
Cortado [2 Ounces of Coffee, 2 Ounces of Milk]
The cortado is one of our personal favorites when it comes to these drinks. It is known for its precision in temperature and the nature of its balanced taste. Cortados are made up of two ounces of espresso and two ounces of steamed milk. Another aspect that makes cortados exquisite is the method at which it is steamed. In order to retain the sweetness of the milk, baristas steam the milk at a lower temperature. One thought to keep in mind is that cortados are a “sipping drink,” so as you enjoy it, pay attention to the tasting notes (they change as the drink cools down). [Pro-tip: When you initially look at the cortado, take note of the “head” of the foam, which should be no bigger than your pinky’s fingernail.]
Americano [Two Ounces of Coffee, Hot Water]
Americanos are a simple drink to remember. Why? Because all it takes is a double shot of espresso, and hot water (How much? That is up to you!). Ironically, this drink is one of a few reasons that the Italian coffee culture calls American coffee, “dirty water.” This drink came about when American soldiers were stationed in Italy during WWII, and the bitter taste of the espresso was too unpleasant for them to bare. If this drink is still to strong for you, we recommend adding some almond milk for an earthy flavor profile.
Cappuccino [Two Ounces of Coffee, Four Ounces of Milk]
Cappuccinos are a classic drink to have in the morning, preferably with shortbread cookies. This drink is composed of two shots of espresso and four ounces of milk…no more and no less. The milk is steamed slightly hotter than a cortado, but less than a latte. A beverage like this is an ideal way to start the day off, or even keep it going with an early afternoon “pick me up.” [Pro-tip: if you want it to be a little sweeter without adding an syrups, ask the barista to steam the milk at cortado temperature. Or, if you are feeling a little extra sugar, ask for a splash of chocolate sauce to make it into a mini mocha.]
Latte [Two Ounces of Coffee, Six Ounces+ of Milk]
Lattes are the iconic drink that you have likely seen showcased on instagram with their beautifully poured rosettas, tulips, and if you are lucky, swans. Lattes are defined as a coffee based drink with six ounces (or more) of textured milk. Lattes can be paired with sauces, syrups, and/or drizzlings, but are designed to be enjoyed in its purest form…coffee and milk. If you are looking for a new concoction to try, or simply want to change your order up a bit, we recommend trying a hazelnut and Irish cream (not the alcohol, but the syrup) latte with steamed breve. [Pro-tip- Breve is also known as half-and-half.]
We hope that you have found this drink breakdown to be helpful, and that your ordering experience has become an easy process that only adds to the enjoyment of the drink. Have any of your own Pro-Tips and tricks? Or maybe another question? Leave your thoughts in the box below! Happy sipping.