Your ultimate guide to the complicated language of coffee

Do you know your flat white from your cappuccino?

Your ultimate guide to the complicated language of coffee

These days, coffee needs its own menu – there's the (supposedly Aussie-born) Flat White, the Spanish Cortado, the Italian Macchiato, the French Café au lait and the old school American brew, served with 'cream' or 'half and half'. That's just scratching the surface. What exactly is cold brew, and has anyone heard of a Ristretto?

On a more basic level, what's the difference between ground, filter and instant coffee?

To clear up coffee lingo confusion, and to help celebrate UK Coffee week, we've put together this handy guide of barista terminology so you know exactly which kind of coffee to buy and order.

Where has your coffee 'bean'? Arabica vs Robusta

There are two main 'species' of coffee; Arabica and Robusta. In a nutshell, Arabica beans are the most popular type of coffee, and tend to have a sweet, soft taste, and a higher acidity. Robusta beans, on the other hand, are much harsher, stronger and more bitter and used for many types of espressos and strong coffees. Robusta also contains twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans. 

Robustas are easier to grow and can grow at lower altitudes than Arabicas, as they are less vulnerable to pests and weather conditions. They also produce fruit much more quickly than the Arabicas, which need several years to come to maturity, and Robustas yield more crop per tree. Robusta beans are grown exclusively in the Eastern Hemisphere, primarily in Africa and Indonesia. Arabica is also grown in Africa and Papua New Guinea, but it's grown dominantly in Latin America. 

What's the difference between ground, filter, pressed, percolated and instant coffee?

Filter coffee is made by filtering hot water through coffee beans that have been roasted and ground. 

Instant coffee is brewed, concentrated coffee that is freeze-dried to be brewed again by adding water.

Percolated coffee is a brew method where hot water is cycled through the coffee grounds using gravity to reach the desired strength.

French press coffee is made with a French press brewer that uses a plunger to press the coffee to separate the finished drink from the coffee grounds.

Coffee pods are the coffee making equivalent of a teabag: a pre-portioned serving of coffee wrapped in individual 'pods', ready to be infused with water. They are for use with a coffee machine, and can create instant cappuccinos, lattes, hot chocolates and even Chai Lattes at home.

What are all those other types of coffee on the menu?

Affogato is Italian for “drowned” and is a coffee-based dessert where a drink or dessert (often vanilla ice cream) is topped with espresso.

Baltimore is a coffee beverage that has equal parts of decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee. It's also known as Half-Caf.

Black Eye is a dripped coffee with a double shot of espresso for an extra strong taste.

Black Tie is a traditional Thai iced tea that has a spicy and sweet mixture of chilled black tea, orange blossom water, star anise, crushed tamarind, sugar and condensed milk or cream, with a double shot of espresso.

Café Americano is a style of coffee prepared by adding hot water to espresso.

Cold Brew is, literally, brewed with cold water, to make a coffee essence that can be served with milk or diluted down (or even heated up, if preferred).

Café Au Lait is a coffee that consists of strong coffee (sometimes espresso) mixed with hot milk in approximately a 1:1 ratio.

Café Breve is a coffee beverage made with steamed cream with milk foam on top.

Café Bombón uses espresso served with condensed milk in a 1:1 ratio. For a visual effect, a glass is used and the condensed milk is slowly added to sink underneath the coffee and create two separate bands of contrasting colour. These layers are then stirred together before drinking.

Caffe Freddo is a chilled, sweetened espresso served in a tall glass, often on ice.

Café Latte (also known as a Latte) is a popular coffee drink made from a portion of espresso and steamed milk, generally in a 2:1 ratio of milk to espresso, with a little foam on top.

Café Medici is a double shot of espresso poured over chocolate syrup and an orange or lemon peel. It's then usually topped with whipped cream.

Café Mélange is a black coffee mixed or covered with whipped cream. It's particularly popular in Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Café Miel has a shot of espresso, steamed milk, cinnamon, and honey. The name comes from the Spanish/French word for honey; miel.

Coffee Milk is a drink similar to chocolate milk, but instead of chocolate syrup, coffee syrup is used. It's the official state drink of Rhode Island in the United States.

Café Mocha is typically one-third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk, mixed with a little chocolate syrup.

Café Zorro is a double espresso added to hot water in a 1:1 ratio.

Cappuccino is very similar to the café latte, but with more foam on top. It contains one-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, and one-third foam. The foam on top acts as an insulator and helps retain the heat of the beverage, allowing it to stay hotter longer.

Chai Latte is not a coffee at all but a steamed milk drink where the milk has been flavoured with a spiced syrup of cinnamon spices. If you add a shot of espresso it becomes a Dirty Chai Latte.

Cortado means "cut" in Spanish, and the drink is made from a double shot espresso with an equal part of hot milk, making it in between the size and strength of a macchiato and a cappuccino. 

Corretto is an espresso "corrected" with a touch of grappa, cognac, sambuca, or other spirit.

Doppio is the Italian word for double, and is a double espresso.

Espresso is the foundation and the most important part to every espresso-based drink, and is just a concentrated shot of filtered coffee without any milk or water.

Espresso Lungo is an American term where a shot is extracted for a longer period of time for a bit of extra espresso. It tends to maximise the caffeine but will mostly produce a more bitter cup.

Flat White is made up of steamed microfoam milk mixed with a shot of espresso.

Hammerhead is an American term for a shot of espresso in a coffee cup that is topped up with drip-filtered coffee. It's also known as a Red Eye.

Irish Coffee is a coffee mixed with a dash of Irish whisky and served with cream on top.

Macchiato is steamed milk that is “stained” by a shot of espresso coffee.

Quad is an espresso drink made with four shots of coffee.

Ristretto in Italian means "restricted, shrunk or short" and is the richest and most concentrated espresso drink.

To get your hands on our Extra Special coffee range head online or pop into your local store.