Tend to get confused when ordering at the coffee shop? For many people, it can be a challenge just to order a simple cup of coffee at a cafe.

Believe it or not, the coffee industry has its own terminology that is continually evolving. Unfortunately, since it isn’t really used by general population it can be confusing to consumers.

That’s why we created a guide of the jargon that’s commonly used at popular coffee shop chains. Remember, terms may vary depending on the cafe.

Basic Coffee House Terms   

You’ll find that in a cafe, there are many different terms used for coffee-based drinks. For instance, latte and cappuccino are both coffee beverages. What’s the difference between the two? Here is some basic coffee beverage jargon:


A cappuccino is an Italian Coffee drink that is usually made with steamed foam milk and double espresso. Cappuccinos can be prepared using cream as a dairy alternative along with cinnamon or chocolate powder for added flavor. This drink is traditionally prepared using ⅓ Espresso, ⅓ Milk and ⅓ Microfoam. It’s all based on the customer’s preference. Originally, it was people in Europe, South America and Australia who appreciated Cappuccino, with only some North Americans. Then things changed in the mid 1990s, when many upscale coffee houses started popping up in North America. That’s when the cappuccino fever hit North Americans.


In a coffee shop you’ll hear the word espresso mentioned often. Espresso is a style of a coffee drink. Pressurized hot water is pulled finely through coffee beans to create a flavored and concentrated cup of coffee.

Yes, espresso simply refers to the manner that coffee beans are grounded and brewed. Espresso are produced in forms of shot and can be used in other types of coffee beverages like; lattes and cappuccinos.

Espresso drinkers experience coffee in its most intense form. Espressos are prepared in a variety of sizes including

  • A single 1 ounce shot
  • A double shot which is made up of more than twice the amount of espresso
  • A ristretto which is known as a short shot since it contains ¾ ounces of the first extraction produced by an espresso machine.
  • A lungo, otherwise known as a long shot, with a 1 ½ ounce of espresso.


Americano is a coffee drink that is prepared by diluting an espresso with hot water which is similar to regular hot coffee. Yes, an Americano is a watered-down espresso drink. The ice Americano is a variation. It’s made by combining an espresso with cold water instead of hot. Another is lungo. It’s made by extracting an espresso shot  for longer, which gives it more volume and extracts bitter flavors. A caffe crema is made by extracting an espresso shot longer than a lungo. Red eye is another variant. It’s made with drip coffee instead of hot water.


Frappe is also commonly known as a frappuccino. A frappe is an iced and blended coffee beverage.


Perhaps one of the most popular coffee-based beverages is a latte. A latte is a specialty drink that when translated means “milk” or milk coffee in Italian. Lattes are made with espresso and steamed milk. A traditional latte is prepared with a single shot of espresso and 6-8 ounces of milk. If an individual prefers more caffeine additional espresso shots can be added. It’s milkier than other coffee beverages.

Latte Macchiato is a trendy latte style coffee based beverage. It’s prepared by pouring single or double espresso shots over frothed or steam milk.  Many people enjoy lattes because of its sweet flavor. A variety of flavors can be added to a latte such as hazelnut, french vanilla and caramel.

Flat white

A flat white is a drink that is originally from Australia. It is an espresso combined with a microfoam of steamed milk. This gives it more of a velvety smooth texture than a plain latte.

Iced coffee

Iced coffee is a hot drip coffee combined with ice, turning it into a cold drink.

Cold brew coffee

Cold brew coffee is brewed with room-temperature water over a long period of time, typically six to 12 hours. This creates a coffee concentrate that is then mixed with cold water or milk.

Many cold brew drinkers claim that it has a smoother taste than a regular iced coffee. People who have acid sensitivity say that it’s easier to drink than hot coffee is.


A mocha is a combination of steamed milk, coffee, and chocolate syrup or cocoa powder.


Affogato is the Italian word for “drowned.” It is a dessert that is made by pouring a hot espresso shot over vanilla gelato or ice cream.

What Is A Barista in a Coffee Shop?

You’ve more than likely heard the word “barista” while visiting a coffee shop. A barista is a coffee artist. They have extensive knowledge about different coffee beans and they’re skilled at creating all types of espresso drinks. Through experience and training baristas are trained in preparing decorative coffee blends and roasting methods. The profession is taking so seriously that organizers have established the World Barista Championships. It’s held at various locations internationally every year. To qualify, baristas must compete in the national competition. Judges base their decision on the way that they present their drinks and the taste.

Coffee Definition – More Than Just A Cup

You drink it every morning but do you actually know what you are drinking and where it comes from? According to statistics, as much as 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day around the world.  Coffee is a drink that is brewed in many different ways from roasted coffee beans. Coffee beans are derived from the seeds of berries which are grown from the Coffea plant.

While coffee only takes approximately ten minutes to make in a standard coffee machine it requires much more harvesting time. Coffee cherries have to be planted four to five years before they can be harvested. Coffee cherries are ready for harvesting once they turn red. A harvester can tell when the coffee cherries are ready to be picked.

Breve Definition Explained

“Cafe Breve” is another popular term that you’ll find on most coffee shop menus. Breve is decadently rich espresso-based drink that is similar to a cappuccino but, instead, it’s prepared steamed half and half milk. Breve is originally an Italian latte that has been Americanized by using mainly milk.

If you ever had just a sip of a well-made breve then you know that’s delicious. One thing that makes this beverage different from a latte is that it is loaded with fat. While some people choose to add sugar to a cafe breve, the drink is sweet enough on its own.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This