FOOD: Know your coffee

Don’t know your cappuccino from your latte?

WITH the many variants of coffee drinks, it can get confusing if you are not familiar with them.

However, as the coffee culture is no longer confined to a familiar cup of java, it is time to know your cappuccino from your latte. Here’s a list of coffee-based drinks:


A strong, concentrated coffee made with dark roasted beans and brewed using pressurised steam.

A shot of espresso is made by forcing about 1.5 oz of nearly boiling water through tightly packed, finely ground espresso beans.

What you get is a dark brown, slightly thick liquid with a small amount of foam on top. When made correctly, an espresso has thick golden foam on the surface known as the crema. If sugar is added to correctly-made espresso, the sugar should sit on the surface for a moment before sinking to the bottom. For more flavour, add whipped cream and you get espresso con panna.

There are many variables in the process of making a shot of espresso. The temperature and pressure of the water, fineness of grounds and how tightly the coffee is packed are just a few.

One regular shot of espresso is roughly one ounce. Espresso is also the foundation for a variety of specialty coffee drinks, which are commonly known as espresso drinks.


Made primarily from espresso and milk. It is considered one of the original espresso drinks representative of Italian espresso cuisine and eventually Italian-American espresso cuisine.

To a shot of espresso, add an equal amount frothed milk and top with foam. In shops where latte art is performed, clear cups are used and, done right, one can see the three layers in succession in the cup. A slight variation is the latte, where instead of one third milk, just under 2/3 milk is used and there is a light layer of foam on top.


Caffe latte consists of one-third espresso, two-thirds heated milk and about 1cm of foam. Traditionally, it is a ratio of two parts coffee and one part steamed milk - also called cafe au lait.

Caffe latte is typically prepared in a 240ml glass or cup with one standard shot of espresso (either single, 30ml or double, 60ml) and filled with steamed milk, with a layer of foamed milk approximately 12mm thick on the top. A caffe latte also consists of strong coffee (sometimes espresso) mixed with scalded milk in approximately a 1:1 ratio.


An American invention and a variant of caffe latte. It is typically one third espresso and two thirds steamed milk, but a portion of chocolate is added, typically in the form of sweet cocoa powder, although many varieties use chocolate syrup. Mochas can contain dark or milk chocolate.

Like cappuccino, cafe mocha contains milk froth on top, although it is sometimes served with whipped cream instead. It is usually topped with a dusting of either cinnamon or cocoa powder. Marshmallow can be added for flavour and decoration.


Macchiato, meaning “stained”, is espresso with a dash of foamed milk. A macchiato has a much stronger and aromatic taste. The milk is foamed directly into the espresso cup, which is then put under the coffee outlet. The espresso is then drawn into the cup. Cocoa is then sprinkled over the drink. A long macchiato has two shots of espresso and a small amount of hot water (as per long black). A short macchiato will have one shot of coffee and less water (as per short black).


Made by pouring a shot of espresso into a cup and then adding hot water. Americanos can be made with one, two or even three shots.

The first Americano coffee is thought to have come from the battlefield of World War 2. American soldiers in Europe tried to make a coffee similar to the one they were accustomed to by diluting it with hot water. Later on, it became popular in the US.


It is a traditional cream-based coffee beverage. Made by preparing two shots of strong black espresso in a standard sized coffee cup and infusing it with whipped cream (as a replacement for milk and sugar) until the cup is full. Then the cream is twirled and optionally topped off with chocolate sprinklings. The coffee is drunk through the creamy top.



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