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Confusing Coffee Terms Explained. Espress- Oh Yourself Better When It Comes To Coffee!

Love coffee? But pushed into a corner by coffee snobs?

10 Jan, 2022 by Reeth Naomi Puri

Love coffee? But pushed into a corner by coffee snobs?

Coffee is as it is a vast and confusing topic and certain names and terms make it worse. The terminologies and names stem from various sources, traditions and theories from around the world (robes of monks, Italian phrases, a seaport in Yemen to name a few). I promise to share with you here whatever novice-level knowledge I have about the most common terms and questions I have come across so far.


This one's not that intimidating but definitely preferred by seasoned coffee drinkers – pressurized boiling water is shot through ground coffee giving it a stronger flavor and higher caffeine content.

Difference between a Cappuccino and Latte

Left: Cappuccino. Right: Latte

Strength; weakness; milk; foam. Poetic right?

A Cappuccino is a simple 1:1:1 ratio. Espresso: milk: foam. Easy enough to remember. Now a latte is like the cappuccino's taller yet sightly demure younger sister. It's got a shot of espresso, lots of steamed milk and lastly a smidge of foam. Generally, a crowd favorite when it comes to adding lots of sugar/caramel or flavored syrups.

Isn’t black coffee the same thing as an Espresso?

No, remember we talked about pressurized boiling water being shot through ground coffee thus making it spankingly (I’m aware this is not a word) potent. Black coffee is simply brewed coffee without any additives.

Ok, then what’s an Americano got to do with an Espresso?

Basically, like a watered-down espresso (I can feel the thud of Italians fainting). Similar consistency as a drip coffee.

Drip coffee??

Accomplished by dripping boiling hot water over slightly coarsely ground coffee. Water filters through the coffee and drips into a pot. Now this one's got possibly the highest caffeine kick so far. (sticks tongue out at espresso…apologizes later).


An espresso stained/ spotted with milk. A favorite for people like me – I like it strong! (insert flex here)…but not that strong, please add a splash of milk (retract flex here).


Espresso brewed with sugar added in the process. Basically, sugar goes into the mug before the hot coffee is poured.

Flat White 

Quite like a latte, but instead of regular milk froth, it has micro-foam (don’t be alarmed by this new foam- I shall explain). A finely textured milk is typically used for making espresso-based drinks with latte art. The steam wand of an espresso machine is the essential item of desire here, which pumps steam into a cup of milk. Coming back to the flat white – bigger than a cappuccino, smaller than a Latte; but stronger in flavor than a latte.

Irish Coffee

Coffee for boozefiends! (just kidding) – classified as a cocktail; hot coffee, sugar, a generous splash of Irish whiskey topped with cream.

Chai Latte 

Does not belong here but since the question comes up again and again. I shall address. Remember how we made a latte? Now replace the espresso with black tea with aromatic spices (and now I hear the thud of my Indian sisters and brothers fainting).

The complex and exotic French press!

It may seem like a lot of work but it yields to you a much richer and aromatic brew at the end of it. It is a manual brewing method, no electric intervention here. Measure the ingredients, grind the coffee, pour in the water, set a time for the brew to sit (depending on intensity and flavor of your choice) and lastly press the plunger!

Matcha Latte 

Think back to the chai latte (yes the one causing much fainting amongst Indians), but deemed more Insta worthy and healthy. Matcha is the fine powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. Gives you the caffeine punch with no side effects!

Filter Kaapi (Personal favorite)

It is made by mixing frothed and boiled milk with coffee. Now the coffee here is the special part – It is the result of the percolation of finely ground coffee through a traditional Indian filter. In western countries, this is commonly known as drip brew coffee.

It is brewed in a metal container that resembles two cylindrical cups, one has a pierced base that nests on the top of the ‘tumbler’ cup, leaving space beneath to collect the brewed coffee. The upper cup has two parts: a pierced pressing disc with a stem and a lid.

Pour-over coffee

Very basic and impactful: what you need – a steady hand+ coffee filter+funnel. What to keep in mind: pour slow, (hot water over coffee grounds).

Size matters!

Now here’s where we start sweating in a queue at Starbucks. Fear not, the size names are literally the opposite of what they actually are. Sorry I couldn’t resist putting it out there!

Tall – this means small! I repeat, this means small.

Grande – means medium when it comes to Starbucks but large in general. I won’t repeat this don’t worry.

Venti – actually two different sizes. A hot venti contains 20 ounces of coffee and a cold venti is 24 ounces.

Congratulations, you now have an official degree in surface learning about coffee lingo! So sip away!

To read more interesting features on good food, books and coffee from Reeth Naomi Puri, visit Kouldkettle.wordpress.com

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