Every Single Coffee Order, Explained

Quick: What’s the difference between an Americano and a cortado? Lately, deciphering the range of coffee types on the menu feels like it requires a PhD. That’s why we made you a down-and-dirty guide that explains every single order. (Yes, even the ones with the pretty foam art.)

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coffee orders drip

Drip Coffee
Coffee 101. This type is made when water seeps through ground coffee beans—and paper filter—and collects in a cup beneath. (Just be sure to give it a good stir since the brew tends to be stronger at the bottom.)

This strong (and slightly bitter) cup of joe is made by forcing steam through extra-finely ground, dark-roasted coffee beans. But, contrary to popular belief, a shot of espresso is usually less caffeinated than a cup of drip coffee.

Extra hot water gets added to a shot of espresso—diluting it in the process—to create this drink. It has the consistency of drip coffee but a richer espresso flavor. 

coffee orders macchiato
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Another espresso variation, but this one comes with a dash of frothy steamed milk. (Yes, this means they can do that pretty art on top.)

Caffé Latte
A latte is a lot like an Americano—it’s made with one-third espresso—but instead of adding hot water, you’re adding two-thirds hot milk, plus a dollop of foam on top.

Basically, this cup can be any of the above espresso and milk combos, but it gets injected with a shot of decadent chocolate syrup.

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coffee orders cappucino
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This is equal parts espresso, steamed milk and milk foam. It also tends to be topped off with the most inventive coffee art. 

Flat White
It’s an Australian twist on a latte that tops a shot of espresso with microfoam (thick steamed milk with super-tiny bubbles).

Similar to the macchiato, this Spanish variation is espresso with a small amount of warm milk added. 

coffee orders latte
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It’s basically a shot of very (very) strong espresso. It’s made with the same amount of ground coffee beans but half the typical amount of water.

This Italian treat consists of a scoop of vanilla ice cream that gets drizzled with a shot of espresso. Now that’s coffee.

Café au Lait
Basically, this is just your average brewed coffee topped off with warm milk. (It’s also probably the easiest to make at home.)

coffee orders cold brew

Cold Brew
Coarsely ground coffee is soaked for 12 hours at room temp, then pressed to remove the grounds. The major difference between this and iced coffee? Iced coffee is basically cooled-down coffee (and tastes as such). Cold brew is never heated, so tastes much more smooth. 

Pour Over
A filter of freshly ground coffee is placed over the cup and hot water is slowly poured through a metal spout. Think of it as a delightful riff on drip coffee. 

Turkish Coffee
Finely ground coffee is boiled in a pot with sugar. But beware: The grounds settle at the bottom of the cup, so watch that last sip.

coffee orders coffee

Irish Coffee
Hot coffee (usually an Americano or some kind of brewed coffee) is topped off with brown sugar, fresh cream…and whiskey. Friday nights only. 

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...