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A Beginner's Guide to Ordering Coffee in a Caffe

A person handing another person 2 to-go coffees and a paper bag of caffe goodies.

Deciding what type of coffee to order from a caffe can be daunting. With so many options, it's challenging to know which one will best suit your palate. This can lead to ordering the same thing every time, or worse yet - ordering something you don't like.

To help you make informed decisions, we've compiled a beginner's guide to ordering coffee in a caffe. This guide covers the most popular types of coffee, their flavor profiles and differences, and suggestions for which type to order based on taste preference.

Espresso - The Classic Shot of Coffee

A shot of espresso being pulled from an espresso machine.

Espresso is the quintessential coffee on which many drinks found at a caffe are built. This concentrated shot of coffee is made with finely ground and tightly packed espresso beans, brewed under extremely high pressure.

The flavor profiles differ depending on the type of espresso bean you use, but many describe it as having a strong, acidic taste. Espresso is typically served as a single or double shot, although it can be enjoyed on its own or as part of various other beverages.

Caffe Latte - Smooth and Creamy

"Coffee and milk" is what the caffe latte means in Italian, and it's what the iconic drink is all about. It's made by pouring a single shot of espresso into a tall glass or cup, then topping it with two parts steamed milk and one part microfoam. The result is an unbelievably smooth and creamy beverage with a light taste.

The milk takes the edge off the espresso, making it more approachable for new coffee drinkers. Lattes shine on their own but also pair superbly with syrups, flavors, and spices.

Cappuccino – A Foamy Italian Classic

Person holding a cappuccino with latte art on it.

Believed to have originated in 18th-century Vienna, the cappuccino has become one of the most popular espresso drinks around. It's made by pouring a shot of espresso into a cup, then topping it with equal parts steamed milk and microfoam. This creates an alluring two-tone coffee drink with a rich taste and creamy texture. 

The microfoam is the star of the show, creating an amazing texture and wonderful visual appeal. Cappuccinos are usually finished off with a sprinkle of cocoa powder for an extra kick.

Caffe Mocha - The Chocolate Lover's Favorite

Chocolate and coffee are a match made in heaven, and the caffe mocha is the perfect way to indulge your cravings. It's made from espresso and steamed milk, which are then combined with chocolate syrup or powder and topped with whipped cream (if desired).

If you love the taste of chocolate, this is the drink for you. The sweetness of the chocolate pairs perfectly with the bold espresso flavor, creating an indulgent treat for any time of day.

Flat White - The Strong, But Subtle Drink

The flat white is a simple yet full-bodied espresso drink originating from Australia. It's made by pouring a double shot of espresso into a small  cappuccino style cup, then topping it with steamed milk and a thin layer of microfoam. As the name suggests, the flat white has a silky milk texture that’s somewhere in between a latte and a cappuccino. . 

What sets it apart is its strong flavor. The combination of the bold espresso taste and smooth milk foam makes for a delicious drink with nuance and complexity.

Caffe Americano - For Savoring Coffee's Natural Flavors

As air travel became more accessible after WW2, the legend goes that Americans traveled to Italy and asked for coffee (which, in their experience, was a brewed cup of coffee). Italy, however, did not have coffee brewers, as they focused on espresso as part of their Italian creation. So, when Italians realized what Americans were asking for, they created a modified version of a black cup of coffee - the caffe Americano.

 A traditional Americano is made by pouring hot water onto an espresso shot. . This yields a full-bodied cup of coffee that retains the espresso's natural flavors and aromas. It's a great  choice for those who want to savor the subtle nuances of espresso without being overpowered by it.

Long Black - The Americano's Robust Cousin

The long black is Australia and New Zealand’s twist on the Americano. This drink packs a punch with a double ristretto shot drizzled over a cup of hot water, and it tends to have less water than a traditional Americano. The result is a full-bodied coffee beverage that's slightly stronger than an Americano and has a bold, robust flavor.

The long black tends to showcase the crema of the espresso since it’s drizzled onto the top of the hot water as the last step. It's an excellent pick for those who appreciate strong and intense coffee flavors.

Caffe Macchiato - The Perfect Drink for Espresso Lovers

The caffe macchiato is an espresso-based drink that's made by adding a small amount of steamed milk on top of one or two shots of espresso. Macchiato literally means "stained," as you are staining the espresso with a little bit of milk foam. 

The milk foam adds a subtle sweetness to the espresso, providing balance. The macchiato is ideal for those who want a strong espresso flavor with a hint of sweetness and texture from the milk.

Cold Brew - For Brewing Your Own Unique Flavor

Cold brew coffee is a unique form of iced coffee that's made by steeping ground coffee in room temperature water for 18-24 hours. Then, the grounds are filtered out and served over ice.

The slow brewing room temperature process creates a coffee with low acidity and a smooth finish. Not only that, but the caffeine content tends to be higher in cold brew coffee, making it ideal for those who need an extra kick of energy (caffeine extraction is based on time.  So for comparitive purposes:  An espresso is about 30 seconds steeping, a brewed cup of coffee is about 3 minutes, and cold brew is 18-24 hours!  Zoom zoom!).

Many caffes offer different types of flavor infusions when brewing cold brew coffee. From sweet syrups to dark chocolate and spices, the possibilities are endless.

Photo of a yellow outdoor table

The Wrap Up

Whether you're a fan of light and sweet drinks or strong and intense coffees, there's something for everyone. With a little bit of knowledge and experimentation, you can find the perfect coffee drink to satisfy your taste preferences.

At Caffe Luxxe, we offer an array of coffee drinks that are sure to please even the pickiest of palates, including some special signature drinks such as a Shakerato. Our selection of high-quality beans and artisanal brewing methods are sure to exceed your expectations.

Visit one of our locations today or shop our online store for beans and brewing materials. We look forward to serving you!

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