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The Meaning Behind Your Favorite Types of Coffee Drinks

Coffee is a wonderful thing, yet, people rarely consider the actual meaning behind the names of all the different types of coffee drinks around the world.

Thanks to an infographic created by EspressoWorks.au, there's some reasoning to exactly why and how the names of the world's most popular coffee beverages came to be.


Espresso

types of coffee drinks

While it might seem like it, the term espresso has nothing to do with speed. In Italian, espresso also translates to the phrase, "made to order."

Additionally, "cafe express" is a term used to define a cup of coffee, "expressly" made for someone. When paired with the Italian word for coffee, "cafe,"  the term "cafe espresso," means "pressed-out coffee."

Americano

types of coffee drinks

Made simply with espresso and hot water, an Americano is about as American as apple pie.

In fact, there's a popular theory that American soldiers in World War II would dilute their coffee with water, in order to lessen the bitter taste. Now, the term, "Americano" takes on a whole new meaning.

Macchiato

Types of coffee drinks

The Macchiato is well-known for its creamy, flavorful characteristics. It's made with a shot of espresso, and topped with foamed milk.

In Italian, the word macchiato actually means, "spotted," so essentially the name is a hat tip to the small amount of foamed milk the drink is topped with.

Piccolo Latte

Types of coffee drinks

The piccolo latte is a small, yet powerful shot made with espresso, and mixed with steamed micro foam. In Italian, piccolo means "small."

The concept of this latte was created by baristas as a means for quality control. As a result, baristas were able to taste their brew — after milk had been added — without consuming too much coffee.

Ristretto

Types of coffee drinks

This dark, more concentrated version of a standard espresso shot is made with half the amount of water.  In Italy, ristretto means, "limited," which translates to the limited amount of water used.

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Caffe Latte

Types of coffee drinks

A latte is made with steamed milk and topped with foam. The Italian influence on this drink is apparent, as "latte" is the Italian word for milk. Just remember, in Italy, there's a difference between "latte," which is just milk, and "cafe latte," which is steamed milk and espresso. 

Doppio

Doppio, or double espresso, serves a vital role in the coffee industry as the primary drink used to judge barista espresso quality in competitions.

The Italian word doppio actually translates to, "double," in English, which is fitting considering it's double the amount of a single espresso.

Cappuccino

Types of coffee drinks

A cappuccino is similar to a latte, but is topped with more foam and chocolate. "Cappuccino" comes from the latin term "caputium," which describes a type of head covering.

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Flat White

A cappuccino is a very light espresso beverage, similar to a latte, but with less foam on top.

Some might suggest that the term, "flat white" is used to describe coffee one could make at home, which is called a flat in some countries.

Mocha

While mocha can be used to describe a color, or chocolate flavors, the Cafe Mocha was named after the Yemen's Port of Al Mokha, where the mocha-specific beans were shipped.

Affogato

types of coffee drinks

Traditionally a dessert beverage, an affogato is made with ice cream and espresso. However, the term, "affogato" is actually somewhat morbid, because in Italian it means, "drowned."

Now that you've learned the secret meanings behind the names of different types coffee drinks, go order one at your local coffeeshop.