What the heck is a macchiato?

Written by Lori Thiessen

In my last entry, I drew up a list of slang words and phrases for coffee. Now, I’m going to try to tackle the tricky arena of coffee variety.

I don’t know about you but I get dizzy just reading the coffee menu when I walk into a coffee shop. Usually, I cop out and order a caffe latte or cappuccino because I have a vague idea what it is. So to help myself out and hopefully you too, I’ve done a little research on the different varieties of coffee.

Cafe Americano – Legend has it that Cafe Americano or Americano was invented as an insult to American soliders in Italy who were too wussie to drink espresso. It is a shot of espresso with lots of water added. Contrary to my belief, this isn’t just a fancy pants way of saying black coffee. Black coffee is brewed coffee so it is much less intense (some may say, bitter) than espresso.

Caffe Latte – A shot of espresso in lots of steamed milk (approximately 3 parts milk to 1 part espresso).

Cafe au Lait – Othewise known as brewed coffee with milk. In England if a server brandishes a coffee pot at you and asks, “Black or white?”, don’t take offense. White coffee is coffee with milk or cream in it.

Cappuccino – A variation on Caffe Latte. Espresso, steamed milk and frothy milk in equal quantities with sprinkles of cinnamon or chocolate on top. By the way, if you order a cappuccino or caffe latte after 11:00 am in Italy, you will get some desparaging looks or the barista will convince himself that he misheard you and give you an espresso. Milky coffee drinks are for breakfast time only.

Dry Cappuccino – A cappuccino with not so much frothy milk or steamed milk.

Espresso – Coffee beans that have been ground to a fine powder, then very hot water under high pressure is sent through the powder producing a coffee with a concentrated flavour and is generally served in a tiny cup.

Espresso Con Panna – Espresso with whipped cream on top.

Frappe – cold espresso with sugar, water and ice. Some places put in milk and top with whipped cream but however it’s made, a frappe is basically cold coffee.

Macchiato – A shot of espresso with LOTS of steamed milk (approximately 4 to 1).

Mocha – a cappuccino or a latte with a squirt of chocolate syrup added.

So there you have it, folks! This is in no way a complete list, but it’s a good primer on more common coffee varieties. So next time you wander into a coffee shop you can order with confidence.

Until next time,

May your coffee always be freshly brewed!


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