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What's in a name? - Coffee drinks have become so diverse in the last few decades that it can't just be called "coffee" any more. There is great variation from region to region (and sometimes even from shop to shop) in the definition of specialty coffee drinks. Please keep in mind that the following information is highly subjective.
Getting a precise definition of espresso drinks is not possible. Proportions vary and individual baristas modify their offerings to suit their local customers. Generally, a cappuccino is 1/3,1/3,1/3, although this becomes blurred when a 'latte' has foam on it. The line between latte and cappuccino is very vague, and the exact meaning of any of these terms can vary from shop to shop. In the UK, a regular latte has a double shot and little or no foam. In Seattle, that's a 'double latte' since they use only one shot and no foam. In Australia, a Seattle latte is called a 'flat white'.
The point here is that when you travel, don't expect the definitions you are used to to be the same definitions everyone else uses. If you are fussy about definitions, then it is better to order the drink the way you really want it than to rely on any precise definitions you may be used to. For better or worse, here are a few of the more popular coffee drinks:
Brewed Coffee - This is by far the most popular and simple type of coffee in the U.S. and most commonly created with a drip method.
Milk - Hey! That's not coffee, but it's an essential ingredient in many coffee drinks and can be delivered in a number of ways. A steaming wand is provided on almost all espresso makers in order to prepare milk before combining it with coffee. The Italian word for milk is 'latte'.
Steamed Milk is simply milk heated by injecting hot steam under pressure into a cup of milk until heated to 160 degrees F.
Foamed Milk goes a little further by injecting fine air bubbles with the steam jet that turns hot milk into a light, velvety liquid froth. The foam can be used in several ways. Blending foamed milk with coffee carries the tiny air bubbles into the coffee to make a lightly textured drink. Topping coffee drinks with foam keeps the coffee's body while providing cap much like whipped cream without the sweetness.
Espresso - A 1-2 ounce drink made by forcing hot water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. Typically, espresso beans are darkly roasted but this is not a requirement. Can be consumed as a straight shot or as the basis of many other espresso based drinks.
Cappuccino - A shot of espresso with the remainder being 50% steamed milk and 50% milk foam/froth. An alternative description is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 foamed milk but this depends very much on the maker. Many places use more steamed milk and less froth. Cappuccino is essentially a latte topped with milk foam (you can tell the difference between a good 1/3-1/3-1/3 cappuccino and a latte by their weight).
Purists insist that when pouring the steamed milk, the foam should follow the milk to the cup naturally. If It is added with a spoon then it is no good. This differs with geography. In Berkely, California, a Cappuccino has no steamed milk - only foam which requires a bit of work with a spoon. The Italians prefer a jet black shot of espresso with more than just a [spooned] dollop of foam on top. This latter kind of cappuccino is called a "dry" or "light" cappuccino.
The word 'cappuccino' shows how words can develop new meanings not intended by the coiners of the word. The Capuchin order of friars, established after 1525, played an important role in bringing Catholicism back to Reformation Europe. You know exactly where this is going, but I'll continue anyway. Its Italian name means "hood" that came from the long, pointed cowl (or cappuccino (derived from cappuccio)) that was worn as part of the order's habit. The French version of cappuccino was capuchin (now capucin), from which came English Capuchin. The name of this pious order was later used as the name (first recorded in English in 1785) for a type of monkey with a tuft of black, cowl-like hair. In Italian cappuccino went on to develop another sense, "espresso coffee mixed or topped with steamed milk or cream", so called because the color of the coffee resembled the color of the habit of a Capuchin friar. The first use of cappuccino in English is recorded in 1948 in a work about San Francisco."
Café Crème - The French name for Cappuccino.
Caffe Latte - Espresso combined with steamed milk and, in some shops, topped with a small cap of milk foam. It has less foam than a cappuccino. Definitions blur easily here. In Australia. "Latte" gets you a glass with a shot of espresso and lots of milk and some foam - half way between a 'flat white' and a cappuccino. It seems to have originated as the breakfast drink of Sydney commuters.
Caffè Lungo - A 'long pull' espresso. It is an espresso diluted by allowing a longer extraction thereby resulting in a weaker drink.
Caffe Mocha - Espresso with steamed milk is mixed with chocolate sauce and topped with whipped cream. As you might guess, this is a tasty dessert-like coffee drink. Depending upon where you are, ordering a 'mocha' might get you a 'latte' or a cappuccino with chocolate syrup or hot cocoa. On the other hand, it might just send the barista nonlinear, especially if the word 'mocha' is not on the menu.
Mocha was a port in Yemen - a major coffee growing country located in southwest Asia at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula - and it has nothing to do with chocolate. A definition of 'Mocha' from 1815 says 'a flavoring obtained from a combined infusion of coffee and chocolate'. In New Zealand, a popular coffee is a 'mochachino', a foamy mix made by adding hot chocolate to espresso. The term 'mochacino' (or 'moccaccino') is also used some places in the US. The best advice here is to check the menu before ordering or ask for a "cappuccino/latte with chocolate syrup".
Cafecito - A Cuban coffee drink made from espresso and caramelized sugar.
Caffe Americano - A more intense cup of brewed coffee made with equal parts espresso and hot water. There is speculation that the name came from American soldiers in occupied Italy during World War II who would ask for their coffees to be watered down to more closely resemble what they considered coffee.
Caffè Corretto - Espresso with a dash of an alcoholic beverage, e.g. sambuca.
Caffè Freddo - Iced coffee.
Doppio - A double shot (4 oz.) shot of espresso.
Espresso Con Panna - Espresso with a dollop of whipped cream.
Espresso Ristretto - A 'short pull' espresso. 'Ristretto' is Italian for 'restricted', in this case meaning an espresso made by restricting the water giving a .75 to 1 oz shot instead of a 1.5 to 2 oz shot. This creates a very stout beverage.
Espresso Romano - Espresso with a slice of lemon or lemon rind on the side.
Espresso Macchiato - A straight shot of Espresso topped (not blended) with foamed milk. Some purists point out that 'Macchiato' means 'marked' in Italian, meaning a dash of milk or cream in espresso. In Australia, 'Macchiato' has two variations - long and short. 'Short' is an espresso served in a Tazzina (micro cup) with just a dash of milk. This is the default at most traditional Italian mom and pop restaurants. 'Long' is a glass with two shots of espresso, and small amount of milk. The peak of macchiato making is to pour the milk in so slowly that it never makes it to the bottom of the glass. The resulting layered drink, when served in glass, is quite elegant. The foam insulates the coffee for temperatures sake, the espresso hits the palate first, and finally, the slightly sweet steamed milk washes the palate.
Latte Macchiato - a glass filled with hot frothed milk, into which a serving of espresso is slowly dribbled. The coffee colors (or stains) the milk in faint, graduated layers, darker at the top shading to light at the bottom, all contrasting with the layer of pure white foam at the top.
Lattecino - Espresso with steamed milk and about a half inch of milk foam on top. This is commonly served as "latte" in some parts of the country. Some enthusiasts feel this name is a pretentious invention by overly imaginative coffee shops.
Mocha Latte - a milkier version of the classic [Caffè] Mocha. Proportions for this should be one-quarter properly strong espresso, one-quarter properly strong chocolate, and one-half milk and froth.
Moka or Mokka - The kind of coffee you get when you use a stove top espresso maker. It's not quite espresso, so it doesn't really fall under that category.
Caffe Breve - Espresso is combined with steamed Half and Half. The term Breve [p. BREH-vey] is not spelled 'Brevé' as it is seen quite often.
Café Au Lait - Consists of equal parts brewed coffee and steamed milk, but using brewed coffee instead of espresso. To better reflect the heavier brew ratio used by Europeans, the brewed coffee should be made 'double strength'. Relative to Europe, this would probably be a triple strength American coffee. Café au lait is simply the French name for Caffè Latte. In Spain, this same drink is called Café con Leche.
Rappaccino - This is a play on the words 'Rappahannock' and 'Cappuccino' to describe our frozen Espresso drinks. The Classic Rappaccino combines Espresso, ice cream, a little milk and ice in a blender. It is whipped into milk shake consistency to become a tasty coffee treat.
Double Mocha Rappaccino - A variation of the Classic Rappaccino with a double shot of Ghirardelli double chocolate sauce.
White Mocha Rappaccino - We add Ghirardelli white chocolate to our Classic Rappaccino .
Caramel Delight Rappaccino - Take the Classic Rappaccino and add a hit of Ghirardelli caramel.
Mocha Raspberry Rappaccino - The ultimate weapon for raspberry lovers; a Classic Rappaccino with a shot of Ghirardelli double chocolate sauce and a shot of raspberry puree.
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