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All the Types of Coffee Drinks – Explained

15 April 2020
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Latte, espresso, cappuccino, Americano — there are often so many types of coffee on the menu board of a café that it can be a little overwhelming. What’s the difference anyway?

We’ve compiled a list of almost every type of coffee that exists in the coffee world and what each one comprises. Take a look at the options you’ll have out there for when you’re ready to try something new.

From cappuccino, latte, macchiato or flat white to creamy or frothy milk, have your coffee just the way you like it with the PrimaDonna Elite, available on De’Longhi eShop.

Espresso

a shot of espresso
Espresso can be served as a standalone meal or as the base for cappuccino, latte, mocha, macchiato, and others. Photo from Matt Hoffman

An espresso or short black is prepared by forcing pressurised, boiling water into very finely ground coffee, typically using a coffee machine, resulting in a highly concentrated coffee with a little crema on top.

Espresso serves as the foundation and the most important base for espresso-based drinks such as cappuccino, latte, mocha, and macchiato. However, it can also be served as a standalone drink.

Double espresso

two shots of espresso
A double espresso is strong and highly concentrated. Photo from Kevin Butz.

Just as the name suggests, a double espresso consists of two shots of espresso. The double espresso is strong, highly concentrated, and typically served with cookies or a spoon of brown sugar to tone down the bitterness.

A double espresso is also known as “doppio,” which is the Italian word for double.

Americano

A cup of black coffee
Americano is your traditional black coffee, prepared by adding hot water to espresso. Photo from Erik Witsoe

Americano is a popular breakfast drink in America, where people love strong coffee.

Americano, also known as long black, is your traditional black coffee. The drink is prepared by adding hot water to a single or double shot of espresso.

Learn how to appreciate black coffee like a pro.

Latte

a man pouring latte art
Latte art is very popular among coffee drinkers, from simple tracings such as heart and leaf to intricate ones such as cats and teddy bears. Photo from Chevanon Photography

A fairly popular option among coffee drinkers, a latte is creamy espresso with milk, creamier than its espresso-based counterparts, such as cappuccino and macchiato.

The latte originates from the Italian caffé latte, which quite literally is coffee milk. Steamed milk is poured on top of a shot of espresso before it’s topped with milk foam, which is typically traced into a beautiful latte art.

Lattes can be ordered plain or served with a flavour shot, such as vanilla, hazelnut, and pumpkin spice.

Cappuccino

a cup of cappuccino
Cappuccino is typically served with a sprinkling of cocoa or cinnamon powder. Photo from Ashkan Forouzani

A cappuccino is almost similar to a latte. However, the key difference is that a cappuccino has a thick foam layer and is typically served with a sprinkling of cocoa or cinnamon powder on top of the drink.

The drink is made with a shot of espresso, piping hot milk, and topped with foamed milk, often prepared with a milk steamer for a thicker froth.

Flat white

a cup of flat white
A flat white is popular in Australia and New Zealand. Photo from Jennifer Burk

A flat white is a cappuccino sans milk foam and cocoa or cinnamon drizzle.

A flat white is the Australian version of a cappuccino — prepared with a shot of espresso and steamed milk. To keep the drink creamy rather than frothy, baristas would usually use milk from the lower part of the jug. This creates a smooth and velvety flat white that we all know.

Macchiato

A cup of macchiato
Macchiato can be served in short (a shot of espresso) and long (two shots of espresso). Photo from Louis Hansel

Those who love a sweeter-tasting coffee would enjoy macchiato — a shot of espresso topped off with a dollop of steamed milk and milk foam to mellow the bitterness of the espresso.

Long macchiatos are also available, which is essentially made of two shots of espresso.

Ristretto

A cup of Ristretto
Ristretto is usually very strong and not for everyone. Photo from Emre Gencer

Ristretto, an espresso shot with half the amount of water, is usually very strong and not for everyone.

Ristretto is a strong form of espresso, made with the same amount of coffee grounds as espresso, but extracted with half the amount of water. The result is a more concentrated and darker espresso. It’s also sweeter in flavour.

Mocha

a cup of mocha
Mocha is a combination of a shot of espresso and a spoon of cocoa powder. Photo from Anuja Mary Tilj

Mocha is a mix between a cappuccino and hot chocolate. The drink is made with a combination of a shot of espresso and a spoon of cocoa powder, topped with steamed milk and a layer of microfoam. The drink is usually served with a sprinkling of cocoa powder on top.

Mocha is most popular as a light coffee drink among younger adults or a dessert.

Piccolo

coffee being extracted from a coffee machine
Piccolo is strong coffee with a mellowed taste of espresso. Photo from Nathan Mullet

Somewhere in between a latte and macchiato, the Piccolo latte or Piccolo, is a great way to enjoy a lighter coffee roast with milk.

Piccolo, which stands for “short” in Italian, is usually made of an espresso shot or a Ristretto shot and steamed milk with a thin layer of microfoam. It’s a strong coffee with a mellowed taste of espresso.

Vienna

a cup of vienna topped with whipped cream
Vienna replaces milk in its coffee with whipped cream. Photo from Grant Durr

In a cup of Vienna, milk is replaced with whipped cream.

The drink is prepared by infusing whipped cream over two shots of espresso until the cup is full. It is then topped off with cocoa powder or chocolate sauce. Vienna is very strong and has a creamy texture.

Cortado

A cup of coffee
The key ingredient in the Cortado is its warm steamed milk, rather than piping hot milk. Photo from Engin Akyurt

The Cortado is a favourite afternoon drink in Spain, Portugal, and Latin America.

Steamed milk is added over a shot of espresso. The milk used for cortado is a little cooler than a macchiato. The warm steamed milk is used to cut back on the acidity of the espresso.

Iced coffee

A glass of iced coffee
Iced coffee is most popular in hot summer days and countries with tropical weather. Photo from Demi Herrera

Coffee served with a dash of milk, cream or sweetener, and ice, of course — it’s really as simple as that.

There’s nothing like hot, tropical weather accompanied by a cold iced coffee that really hits the spot.

Cold brew

A cup of iced black coffee
Cold brew is prepared by steeping coffee beans from anywhere between 6 to 36 hours. Photo from Matt Hoffman

The trendiest of the iced coffee bunch? Cold brew coffee. Cold brew is strong, sweet, packed with flavour, and much less acidic than the regular iced coffee.

Coffee beans are steeped from anywhere between 16 to 36 hours, depending on how strong you’d like your cold brew. Cold milk or cream is then added to the coffee.

Affogato

A glass of Affogato
Try affogato with a slice of brownies after a meal. Photo from Ali Yahya

Affogatos are more of a coffee dessert than a drink and are most popular during the hot summer days.

A single or double shot of espresso is poured over vanilla ice-cream. The affogato is especially delicious when served with a slice of brownies as a sweet after-meal treat.

Find out how to make the Affogato and other fancy coffee beverages at home.

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From cappuccino, latte, macchiato or flat white to creamy or frothy milk, have your coffee just the way you like it with the PrimaDonna Elite, available on De’Longhi eShop.