Serious Eats: Drinks
Coffee-to-English Dictionary, Part III: Milky Coffee Drinks
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.
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.