It’s something we live with every day. Some of us crave it more than others, but no matter where we get it from, there seems to be some confusion on exactly what we are drinking is called. It’s coffee, and it comes from many different places, but it originated in Ethiopia, where legend states that a farmer found his goats has been feeding on a strange berry that would keep them awake all night long. Soon, the legend was researched, and the berries were found, but it took Arabic traders to cultivate it and to bring it to the world.
Most of what we drink every day is usually made a robust Arabica kind of bean. For those whom like a smoother flavour, the Colombian bean is best, or you might be one of those coffee connoisseurs that likes to experiment with beans from other locales, like Hawaiian Kona beans or Jamaica Blue Mountain beans. One thing is certain, geologically unstable places tend to produce the best coffee. Most all the best coffee nations sit on the Pacific and Caribbean Rings of Fire, with the exception of Hawaii, which is pretty much growing from its own volcanoes. Let us also remember that the Mediterranean Sea is also a hot spot for great coffee, and it is also where great exotic coffee recipes are created.
So, when you go to your local Starbucks, McD’s, Dakota Coffeeworks, or whatever brewery you choose, and you tell your order taker that you want a Cafe Mocha Latte Cappuccino, etc…. all in one breath, you might want to know exactly what you are asking for, because this is not one drink, but four types of drinks. Your barista is a talented person, and seems to know what he or she is doing, but in a busy morning rush, even they can get confused.
For your information, pure and simple, here is a short glossary of coffee terms that might make your next coffee experience more enjoyable for everyone:
Cappuccino: Espresso with foamed milk – 1 part espresso, 1 part steamed milk, 1 part froth.
Cappuccino scuro (AKA Dry or Dark cappuccino): Cappuccino prepared with less milk than usual.
Cappuccino chiaro (AKA Wet or Light cappuccino): Cappuccino prepared with more milk than usual.
Cappuccino freddo (Iced Cappuccino): Cappuccino served over ice
Caffe’ Americano: Similar to Lungo, hot water is added to a regular size espresso to obtain a full-flavored coffee.
Caffe’ freddo: (Iced Espresso): Chilled, sweetened espresso served in a tall glass, possibly on ice.
Caffe’ Latte (AKA Latte’, Caffelatte): Espresso mixed with steamed milk; usually a breakfast drink – Typically made with more milk than a cappuccino, with little or no froth on top. In Italy, the coffee in a caffe’ latte is made out of a stovetop machine, rather than an espresso machine, and is not normally served into bars or restaurants.
Con panna: Like “macchiato”, but whipped cream substitutes steamed milk.
Corretto: Espresso “corrected” with a touch of grappa, cognac, sambuca, or other spirit.
Latte macchiato (Stained milk): Steamed milk “stained” with a shot of espresso coffee, served in a tall glass rather than a cup.
Lungo (Long): An Espresso made with more water than usual by prolonging the extraction of a regular espresso (sometimes incorrectly called an Americano).
Macchiato: Espresso “stained” with a dollop of steamed milk on top.
“Skinny”: (as in Skinny Cappuccino or Latte): An espresso-based drink made with skim or nonfat milk.
“Tall”: (AKA Double or Grande): A larger portion (not necessarily twice the size), as in Tall latte.
Also, you might come across terms like “unleaded” for decaf coffees, and don’t forget that mocha is simply chocolate added to your selection, but therein adds a whole new realm of possibilities when adding flavoured syrups to your drinks. From caramel to mint to raspberry, the combinations can be endless, as any of you whom have played Chocolatier: Decadence by Design have figured out. Let’s not forget Iced coffee, either.
While many regular coffee drinkers might not have to deal with the nuances of all this Italian coffee terminology, at least those of us a Musings hope to have educated you a little bit about what you are drinking, or might end up with when you order that Mocha Caramel Latte Frappe thing you thought just might be a fancy coffee.