Coffee-to-English Dictionary, Part III: Milky Coffee Drinks

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[Photographs: Meister]

Do you ever feel like you could use a little translation at your local coffee shop, or while perusing the bags of beans at your favorite market?

Presenting the third in a multipart Coffee-to-English glossary, which will hopefully help you navigate the sometimes-complicated coffee lexicon. (Now all you have to do is work on perfecting your fake coffee-snob accent.)

Australian-Style Latte: This style of latte differs from the standard American latte in that it is typically served in a glass vessel without a handle, which necessitates it being slightly cooler in temperature. The Australian-style latte also tends to have a slightly a denser head of foam than its American counterpart. (See also: Cafe Latte.)

Cafe Au Lait: A drink with French origins, the American version of which is half to two-thirds brewed coffee and half to one-third steamed, slightly frothed milk.

Cafe Con Leche: Literally "coffee with milk" in Spanish, this drink is typically constructed using one part strong coffee (either very concentrated brewed coffee—often brewed using a Moka pot—or a traditional espresso shot) and one to two parts steamed milk, and is often sweetened with sugar.

Cafe Latte: An espresso-based drink with a milkier texture and flavor than its typically smaller cousin, the cappuccino. Often created in a larger vessel than a cappuccino (8-, 12-, and 16-ounce versions are the most common), the latte naturally lacks the proportionate harmony of the former drink. (See also: Australian-Style Latte.)

Cafe Mocha: A latte created with a coffee base that has been flavored with chocolate.

Cappuccino: This traditional Italian beverage follows a recipe designed to create harmony among the three elements that it brings together: espresso, steamed milk, and foam. Every sip from the drink should consist of a balance of those three components. (See also: Dry Cappuccino.)

Dry Cappuccino: A cappuccino with a deeper head of foam, and a lesser quantity of liquid steamed milk.

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Flat white from London's Flat White.

Flat White: Another popular Australian drink created with a base of espresso and lightly textured steamed milk, served in a 5.5- to 6-ounce ceramic mug with a handle.

Latte Art: A design created by a barista by pouring steamed milk in a pattern on the top of a coffee beverage. Latte art is most typically done on beverages with a base of espresso and at least one ounce of steamed milk (e.g. Espresso Macchiato, Cafe Latte, Cappuccino—though some purists argue that latte art has no place on a cappuccino.)

Macchiato: Macchiato is an adjective literally meaning "marked" or "stained" in Italian, and is often preceded by a noun on a coffee menu. So an "espresso macchiato" is an espresso that is "marked" with steamed, foamed milk (typically up to 2 ounces' worth), while a "latte macchiato" implies a portion of steamed, foamed milk that is "marked" with espresso.

Monk's Head: This refers to the traditional design a barista may make on the top of a cappuccino. Comprising an unbroken rim of brown crema that rings the edge of the cup with a solid white circle of foam in the center, it resembles the bald head and brown robes of the monks of Capuchin, for which the drink is supposedly named.

Coming next, Part IV: Decoding the Coffee Bag.
Go back to Part II: Espresso Terms You Should Know »
Check out Part I: The Coffee Plant »

About the author: Erin Meister trains baristas and inspires coffee-driven people for Counter Culture Coffee. She's a confident barista and an audacious eater, but she remains a Nervous Cook.

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