Espresso-based Coffee Drinks Explained

because baristas can be snobs and even we had to learn at some point. Just the basics, I'll refrain from details such as "traditional...," but I'll note Starbucks lingo where applicable as a public service.
  1. Americano
    Espresso and water. Because many Americans who visited Europe couldn't handle straight espresso, so they had to add to water it down to make it more like brewed coffee.
  2. Au lait
    Not espresso based. Half brewed coffee, half steamed milk, a layer of foam on top. Dry means more foam. Flat means no foam. Known at Starbucks as a "misto;" always surprises me how many of their baristas don't know what an lait is.
  3. Breve
    Espresso and half and half
  4. Cappuccino
    Espresso, milk, and foam. Foam accounts for roughly half the drink. "Dry" means you want even more foam and less milk. "Wet" means you want more milk and less foam; can be the same as a dry latte, depending on the shop and barista.
  5. Espresso
    Despite popular belief, espresso is NOT a type of coffee bean or even roast. Any bean and roast can be made into espresso. Espresso refers to the coffee making method where hot water (or steam) is pressure forced through ground coffee beans, rather than dripping or steeping.
  6. Latte
    Espresso, milk, and (often) a little foam. Only a layer of foam on top. "Dry" means you want a little more foam than what the shop usually makes, but not quite a cappuccino. "Flat" means no foam at all.
  7. Machiatto
    Literally means "marked with." Like a cappuccino but espresso shots poured on top, whereas other drinks are milk poured over espresso. "Latte Machiattos" is basically a latte with the espresso shot(s) on top. Not to be confused with the 'Caramel Machiatto' at Starbucks, which is essential a vanilla latte machiatto with added caramel.
  8. Mocha
    Espresso, chocolate, and milk. Most shops will include whip cream.
  9. Single/Double/Triple
    Refers to the number of espresso shots. 1 shot = 1oz of espresso.