Your Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Coffee

It’s a moment we’re all familiar with—staring at the coffee menu, trying to figure out what the words really mean. What is the difference between a latte and a flat white, or a cold brew and an Americano? If you’ve broken out in a cold sweat thinking of this, not to worry, we’re covering everything, from what each drink really is to how to brew them.

Espresso

Espresso is a full-flavoured, concentrated version of coffee, which makes the base for many coffee drinks, and is usually served in shots. Made by forcing pressurised hot water through very finely ground coffee beans in an espresso machine, an espresso is stronger than regular brewed coffee, and comes topped with a crema, which is a brown foam created when air bubbles combine with the soluble oils of fine-ground coffee.

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Latte

Caffè latte, often shortened to just latte, is a coffee drink of Italian origin made with a third of espresso, two-thirds milk, and about a half-inch of foam.

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Cappuccino

An Italian coffee drink traditionally made with equal parts double espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam on top. In Italian, cappuccino means "little cap," referring to the little head of milk foam that sits on top of the drink's espresso base.

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Americano

Perfect for those who aren't a big fan of milk in their coffee, a caffè Americano is prepared by adding hot water to an espresso. An Americano allows you to play with the strength of your coffee with the ratio of the water and espresso shots.

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Doppio

The word doppio in Italian simply means double, so a Doppio is basically an espresso, just twice the size.

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Cortado

The name Cortado comes from the Spanish word "cortar," which means "to cut," referring to the milk in a Cortado cutting through the espresso. Created in the Basque country of Spain, Cortado became extremely popular all over the Galicia region of northern Portugal, and even Cuba. A Cortado differs from a latte and cappuccino in that it contains little to no foam, a characteristic of most Spanish drinks.

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Red Eye

Commonly known as the "working person's drink," the Red Eye isn't even officially on menus in most coffee shops, but is requested daily. Ideally for those who need to be up and productive fast, but don't have the time for multiple cups of caffeine, a Red Eye is essentially a brewed hot coffee, topped with a shot of espresso.

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Gãlao

Drunk mostly in Portugal, Galão is made by adding foamed milk to espresso. Similar to a caffè latte, a galão consists of one part coffee to three parts foamed milk, and is served in a tall glass.

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Macchiato

Caffè macchiato, also known as an espresso macchiato, is when you get a shot of espresso topped with a very small quantity of foamed milk. In Italian, the word "macchiato" means "stained" or "spotted," so the caffè macchiato is essentially the dark espresso stained by the milk foam on top.

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Mocha

A variant of the the caffè latte, a caffè mocha is a latte with chocolate flavouring and sweetener added to it, and is served in a glass instead of a cup. Usually, to add the chocolate element, cocoa powder and sugar is added, but many varieties use chocolate syrup or dark or milk chocolate. A caffè mocha derives its name from Mocha, Yemen, which used to be one of the centers of early coffee trade.

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Flat White

A Flat White is an espresso-based coffee drink made with a single shot of espresso and two shots of steamed milk. Often confused with a latte, a flat white differs from the former in the way the milk is prepared and poured.

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Affogato

Also known as affogato al caffe, an Affogato is an Italian dessert, where hot coffee is poured over a scoop or two of vanilla gelato. Affogato means "drowned" in Italian, referring to the coffee which "drowns" the ice cream.

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Café Au Lait

Served with a traditional French breakfast of flaky croissants, a café au lait is a hot drink made with equal parts strong coffee and steamed milk.

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Irish Coffee

More cocktail than a coffee drink, an Irish Coffee combines the smoothness of an Irish whiskey with the richness of sweetened black coffee. Created by Joe Sheridan in Ireland in the 1940s, an Irish coffee is an iconic after-dinner drink that is a hit every time it's made.

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Iced Coffee

As its name implies, an Iced Coffee is simply coffee served chilled on ice.

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Cold Brew

Perfect for those who want their coffee nice and strong, but have no fancy equipment at home, making a cold brew is as simple as mixing ground coffee with cool water and steeping the mixture in the fridge overnight.

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Mazagran

Also known as café mazagran, a Mazagran is a cold, sweetened coffee drink that was invented in Algeria. Often called "the original iced coffee," a mazagran is made with espresso, lemon, sugar, and ice, though some versions include mint and rum as well.

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