Confused when you go into a coffee shop and want to order a drink or when you hear people and experts talk coffee – below are some explanations of some of the most common terminologies you will often hear. If you know of anymore common terminologies, please let us know, but for now study these to impress your friends.

Basic/Types of Coffee

Arabica: A type of coffee, named by the first coffee nation, the Arabs – this is the type of coffee mostly used in good coffee shops especially for making espresso based drinks.

Blend: Coffees from different regions blended together to create a “blend” of coffee. Sometimes there can be up to 9 different types of coffees in one blend, like the famous Illy Blend.

Bourbon: a type of arabica species, more commonly found in South America, especially in Brazil.

Coffee (you thought this was obvious didn’t you): a cherry fruit, which usually has two seeds/beans inside. These beans are either dry roasted or wet-processed after which they become green. When roasted at high temperatures, this “green” bean becomes what we call coffee.

Robusta: A type of coffee, more commonly used to produce instant coffee and inferior in taste and quality to Arabica. Robusta actually has more caffeine in it than the high quality Arabica used in cafes. Robusta coffee beans tend to be smaller then arabica ones.

Single Estate/Single Origin: Coffee from one “estate” or from a region in a country and not mixed with any other coffee blends.

Cafe Expressions

Barista: Literally a barman, but in coffee, it means the expert that prepares coffee.

Crema: The appearance of a dark/reddish brown thick foam with tiny bubbles on top of a freshly brewed espresso. This is how experts judge a good cup of espresso.

Double Shot: A single shot of espresso is between 7-9 grammes of coffee and a double shot is between 14-19 grammes. At Escape Caffe, we make all espresso drinks with a double shot because we want you to connect with the coffee and taste as much of it as possible.

God shot: What baristas or espresso experts aim for – the perfect espresso – a shot of espresso so good that it must have been blessed by God.

Micro-foam: The appearance of very tiny milk bubbles on top of properly frothed milk. You need micro-foam for latte art.

Tamper: Usually a heavy stainless steel device, which the barista uses to press, with 30 pounds of pressure, the coffee grounds firmly into the portafilter when preparing to brew an espresso shot.


Types of Coffee Drinks

Affogato: An espresso drink with a scoop of ice cream inside. Sometimes served as a dessert in restaurants and usually offered during summer.

Americano: An espresso drink made with one part espresso and 3 parts of hot water. At Escape Caffe, we serve it as a short or long black.

Cafe au Lait: Strong coffee traditionally made with a cafetiere and mixed with equal parts steamed milk and poured at the same time into the cup. A traditional cafe au lait mug has two handles at the side.

Caffe Freddo: The Italian name for a cold iced version of a milk based espresso drink like a cappuccino or latte, more commonly known as a frappuccino and known at Escape Caffe as “Iced Coffee”, where we blend filter coffee with vanilla ice cream and some milk.

Caffe Latte: Traditionally an espresso mixed with 3 times it’s size of steamed milk. However, you are more likely to be served a caffe latte with both steamed and frothed milk outside Italy, making what most people know as a latte, really a large cappuccino.

Cappuccino: An espresso mixed with equal parts of steamed and frothed milk (1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 froth milk).

Cortado: The Spanish version of a strong cappuccino, with almost equal parts of coffee and milk.

Espresso: In general, seven grammes of freshly ground Arabica coffee, tamped with 30 pounds or pressure, ground to a precision and brewed between 93-94.5C with 9 Bars of pressure on an espresso machine that allows about 45ml (1.5 US fl ounce) of coffee to drip through into a cup in about 23-25 seconds, resulting in dark coffee with crema on top. SOUNDS COMPLICATED DOESN’T IT ? The most important thing however, concerns the preparation; such as the type of coffee, the grind and the machine – if any of the essential elements are missing then you won’t get espresso but some mutant of it, which unfortunately you will get in most coffee shops.

Espresso Con Panna: An espresso topped with a dessert spoon of whipped cream. Also known as espresso tazza d’oro.

Flat White: Originally an Australian version of a Latte but with less froth. It’s becoming a popular offering in more trendy cafes.

Macchiato: Also known as espresso macchiato. Macchiato means “stained with”, so it is a shot of espresso stained with a spoon of frothed milk.

Mocha: also known as Caffe Mocha – an espresso milk based drink using chocolate syrup or hot chocolate powder.

Ristretto: Italian for “restricted” and in coffee terminology a smaller version of an espresso just in case you were wondering how can there be anything smaller than an espresso. A ristretto is made with the same amount of coffee as for an espresso but the brewing time is much shorter and if made properly, it should taste sweeter as all the good sweet tones of the coffee are extracted within the first 15 seconds of brewing time. However, most people feel like they are being cheated when served a ristretto as they get much less liquid, but this what the Italians like to drink 5-10 times a day.

Skinny Latte: A caffe latte made with low fat and non-fat milk – for the very health conscious and a common term used in American cafes.


One Reply to “COFFEE LINGO”

  1. Hi could you find me the answer to the term and how “bongo-latte” was origanated?
    It’s very popular in Noosa-Sunshine Coast, Australia area, and most places seem to be a 3/4 full latte really. Piccolo, bongo and reg lattes all being one shots but different dilutions.?

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