Why You Suck at Ordering Coffee


Matthew Gross

Latte. Macchiato. Misto. Expresso. Frappuccino. These are the words that slap us in the face when we walk into a coffee place like Starbucks or Dunkin’. But what do they mean? Well, in order to get better at ordering, you first need to learn the basics of each of the drinks. So buckle up, because this will be a barista’s guide to the most popular types of coffee and espresso drinks!
Let’s start things off with an easy one: a latte. Your basic latte will come with two things, espresso and steamed milk. The “steamed” part of steamed milk comes from the process in which it is heated. A little rod is placed into a cup of the milk of your choice, and hot steam comes through tiny holes at the end of it. It is then aerated, a process in which the tiny little steam bubbles are able to escape from a tiny pocket of air that is formed between the milk and rod, and is then plunged into the bottom of the cup. The aeration period determines the thickness and foam content of the milk. The longer you aerate the milk, the thicker it becomes. The difference between a cappuccino and a latte, for instance, is the amount of time the milk is aerated, and the result is a thicker foam for cappuccinos and a thinner, more creamy foam for lattes. Once the milk is aerated, it is then poured into the espresso, and flavoring if added, to create a nice creamy milk and coffee combo.
Within the same drink family is the macchiato, a drink made the exact same way as a latte, except in reverse. The steamed milk and flavoring is poured into the cup first, and the espresso shots are then poured over the milk to create a bolder taste. The latte, in contrast, has the steamed milk mixed into the espresso, creating a lighter, more balanced flavor. So, if you are not a fan of espresso but want to look fancy, your best bet is to order a latte over a macchiato. Anything “breve” just means that it has half and half or cream in it instead of milk. So a breve latte would be espresso and steamed half and half or cream.
Sticking with espresso and steamed milk, we have the mysterious cafe misto, Americano, and the Redeye. A cafe misto is basically a latte, except you add regular coffee to it instead of an espresso. It is just hot coffee and steamed milk on top. The good thing about a misto is that you can get flavoring in it like any other latte, but you are able to control what type of coffee bean roast you get for your coffee, as you aren’t stuck with the dark espresso of a latte. An Americano is basically a watered down espresso, where hot water is added to cut the bitterness of the espresso but also to stretch it more than a regular shot of espresso. A Redeye is an espresso shot that is poured into regular coffee, giving the drinker an extra punch of caffeine. A doppio is a double shot of espresso, and a quad is four shots of espresso.
Next, we have the frappuccino, which is a coffee icee for lack of a better term. It’s a cold, crunchy form of a latte, where you have your flavoring, milk, and either espresso or a special kind of frappuccino roast coffee. A frappuccino lends a sweeter and lighter flavor than that of a latte or macchiato because it has less coffee–espresso– and more milk and flavoring. It’s best served with whipped cream and a topping of your choice on top.
A chai latte is usually made with steamed milk and the coffee shop’s chai syrup, flavoring, or mix, with a hint of water to dilute the chai mixture. Just pop all those into a cup, using the same process as a latte, chai mix first, then steamed milk poured in, add a dash and cinnamon on top and you’re done. Chai has a very licorice-y, cinnamon-y taste, to it. The caffeinated counterpart to a chai latte is that of the dirty chai latte, where an espresso shot is added into the mix.
Whether it’s your first time inside of a Starbucks, or your second time in a day, it’s important to know what everything on the menu is and what it might taste like. So step up to that counter and go get yourself that double pump, extra shot, almond milk, white chocolate mocha latte of your dreams!
“Caffeine Myths: Dark vs. Light.” Kicking Horse Coffee, www.kickinghorsecoffee.com/en/blog/caffeine-myths-dark-vs-light.
Starbucks, stories.starbucks.com/stories/2016/whats-the-difference-between-a-latte-a-latte-macchiato/#:~:text=Our%20Latte%20Macchiato%20and%20classic,a%20more%20balanced%2C%20delicate%20flavor.