Coffee 101

If you’re in search of a free lesson on the basics of coffee, you have come to the right place – although you might be charged a standard internet rate. But wait, there’s more! This limited one time offer will provide you with adequate knowledge on the basics of the various coffee drinks seen on most café menus . Finally, an advert that lives up to expectation. T&C’s apply.

Often, I find myself staring down the endless road of an incredibly intimidating menu at a five-star (probably not a five-star) restaurant, having no clue what half the French written words mean, and making a fool out of myself when placing my order. For some of you, you may feel this embarrassment when ordering your coffee. Let’s go through some of the basics;

The cappuccino:

Most of you are well acquainted with this drink, the age old classic prevalent on most menus. This drink is often served in a 6.5 oz cup, or 190ml cup for us South Africans. The cappuccino is accompanied by a double or single espresso shot, with silky milk and steamed milk on top (otherwise known as froth). Indications for a well-presented cappuccino would be well textured and somewhat thick foam on top, your first sip will be accompanied by a temporary moustache – for those of you that struggle to grow a moustache, including myself, we benefit greatly from our temporary foam moustache that covers up our unevenly distributed grass patch – these elements of a well-presented drink are subject to the barista. If you see what looks like a field of potholes, like the roads in Johannesburg, you might want to send the cappuccino back for some maintenance, the milk is too ‘’airy’’ and makes for an unpleasant drink.

The latte:

‘’May I have a skinny decaf hazelnut cherry infused no carb latte with two-quarters of sweetener, please.’’

This phrase is often accompanied by someone ordering a latte, this drink is most commonly served in a large cup, and has a greater, possibly the greatest volume of milk on the menu – unless you’re ordering some cereal, in that case it still has more milk. This drink, like the cappuccino is prepared with a single or double espresso shot, silky milk, and steamed milk on top. It’s basically the Shanghai tower of coffee drinks. Indications for a well-presented latte would be like the cappuccino; well textured milk with a slightly thinner bit of steamed milk.

The espresso:

This is a single or double extracted drink, often presented with a side order of water. Often the espresso has the lowest price on the menu. It is best characterised as the petrol to the car, it fuels most drinks on the menu. It is served in a small cup, roughly no bigger than 50-100ml. The standalone espresso can be compared to the single ingredient in a Durban curry that is most remembered because of the time you spend reconciling yourself in the bathroom, it’s the zing to the zinger burger – it provides all drinks with that slap in the face that we often cannot live without.

The macchiato:

The classic Italian drink that accompanies the espresso served with a tinge or drop of steamed milk. Do not confuse this drink with the latte or cappuccino, you might be bitterly disappointed to find out that it is served in a similar cup to the espresso. The macchiato is single or double shot espresso served with a tiny bit of milk, it is potent – don’t be fooled by the drop of milk, it can still pack a punch. The drop of milk is often believed to add a little sweetness to the drink, which is rather interesting considering how Italians drink their espressos.

There are obviously plenty other drinks that can be elaborated on, but the above-mentioned drinks are the most common café menu drinks.

Try it without sugar.




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