Coffee Guides

Coffee Lingo Dictionary

If you have ever looked at a coffee shop menu or coffee bag and have been thoroughly confused and quite possibly a bit ostracized due to your lack of knowledge; here is a quick cheat sheet for you.

If you have ever looked at a coffee shop menu or coffee bag and have been thoroughly confused and quite possibly a bit ostracized due to your lack of knowledge; here is a quick cheat sheet for you.


Affogato: an espresso drink with a scoop of ice cream
Americano: watered down double-shot of espresso
Baltimore:  Half-caffinated coffee
Breve: steamed half and half and espresso
Cafe Au Lait: a cup of coffee with steamed milk
Cafe Con Leche: ditto^
Cappuccino: 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk, 1/3 milk foam
Cold Brewcoffee that is brewed using cold water rather than the typical hot water. It produces a less acidic cup of coffee.
Con Panna: Espresso topped with whipped cream
Cortado: an equal amount of espresso and steamed milk; slightly stronger than a latte or cappuccino
Crema: the thick foam on top of the freshly extracted espresso
Doppio: a double shot of espresso, or in some cases, a double shot of espresso with a shot of hot water
Dry Cappuccino: Only espresso and milk foam
Espresso: a highly concentrated serving of coffee
Flat White: similar to a latte; just less milk and more microfoam (very small milk bubbles)
Frappuccino: a frozen, blended coffee drink made with espresso, milk, and typically flavored
Latte: steamed milk and espresso
Lungo: a slightly less concentrated version of espresso
Macchiato: espresso with a dollop of steamed milk
Mocha: steamed milk, espresso, and chocolate syrup or powder
Nitro Cold Brew: cold brew charged with nitrogen to give it a creamy, smooth head similar to a draft beer
Pour-Over: a cup of coffee that is made by manually pouring the water slowly over ground coffee to make a more precise, flavorful cup.
Red Eye: also know as a shot in the dark; cup of coffee with a shot of espresso
Ristretto: an ever higher concentrated version of espresso
Skinny: a drink made with skim milk ex. skinny latte, skinny cappuccino


AeroPressa relatively recent coffee invention that brews coffee while being immersed in a chamber that is then plunged for extra coffee extraction. It produces espresso strength coffee
Barista: Not gear, but rather the person that prepares the coffee
French Press: a device that brews coffee by immersing the coffee grounds in water for a few minutes until being plunged with what is typically a metal filter
Moka Pot: a coffee brewing device that often sits on a stovetop and produces espresso strength coffee
Pour-Overa device used to manually pour hot water over coffee grounds that results in a more precise flavorful cup of coffee
Siphon Pot/ Vaccum Coffee: a coffee brewing device that is popular in Asian cultures and specialty coffee shops. It brews coffee by immersion in water and a little bit of science!
Tamper: the device used to compact the grounds for a shot of espresso


Arabica: a species of coffee known for being of the highest quality; most commonly used in specialty coffee shops
Blend: a mixture of coffee beans from different regions
Direct Trade: when roasters buy directly from coffee farmers
Fair Trade: the price of coffee is regulated to ensure that farmers are compensated properly
Organicfewer chemicals used in the process and more derived from plant-based materials
Robusta: a species of coffee known for being lower quality; most commonly used in instant coffee
Single Origincoffee beans that come from the same region or estate


Acidity: the bright, dry sensation that enlivens the taste of coffee; often more fruity
Aroma: the fragrance of coffee
Bitter: a taste that rests on the back of the tongue from over-extraction, dark roasts, or low-quality coffee
Bland: little flavor; not complex
Body/ Mouthfeel: the tactile impression of weight in the mouth; thin, medium, full etc.
Bright: tangy or sharp flavors in coffee
Briny: salty taste in coffee often from overheating
Earthy: a pleasant soil, grass, or smooth taste found in many coffees; especially Indonesian
Exotic: interesting floral or fruity flavors in the coffee
Spicy: flavors of spices i.e. cinnamon, chili, etc.
Stale: flat, cardboard taste due to too much oxygen exposure
Sweet: coffee free of defects or harsh flavors
Tone: appearance or color of a coffee
Winy: tastes like red wine

If there are important words that I am missing; let me know in the comments and they will be added!

ALSO…we’ve been writing about incredible coffee for years, and finally figured we should start our own coffee roasting company!

Check us out -> Short Sleeves Coffee Co.


32 comments on “Coffee Lingo Dictionary

  1. Thanks for this! 🙂 I thought cappuccinos had chocolate.

  2. Thank you

  3. Cortados are a favorite of mine, but I wish I could order bigger sizes.

  4. 12 yrs ago I worked for *ahem* …Starbucks and I was told macchiato meant “mark the foam” meaning the espresso shot went in last??? True False… something else?

    • Unfortunately Starbucks changed the meaning of macchiato for many people. Starbucks does macchiato basically as an upside down latte, however, a traditional macchiato is very different 🙂 It is very confusing to people who are used to Starbucks macchiatos that order one in a specialty coffee shop…haha

      • Scott Ebisch

        Interesting. I figured as much after I read your post. 🤔… It was a long time ago. And when you don’t have another point of reference you take their word as gospel.

        Thanks for clarifying.

        • Haha true indeed. You are very welcome! Take everything Starbucks does with a grain of salt 👌

          • Good morning, & hellooo there. 😊 I haven’t seen any new blogs from you in awhile now… Is everything ok? I miss them, & your informative, & entertaining way you present them. I sincerely hope all is well. You are a special person, & I thank you for all you do. Have a beautiful & blessed day! 🐑

            • Hi There! My wife and I just welcomed our first child into the world and have had to pause briefly! Within the next couple of weeks you should be expecting some new things on here! There are some exciting things in the future of this site coming up! Thank you so much for reaching out. I am ever so thankful for people like you that make this so special! – Daniel

              • Congratulations! Thats wonderful! 😊 and a very acceptable reason why you haven’t written lately. I look forward to your new stuff. God Bless youuus!!!

      • Starbucks changed the meaning of so many Italian coffee drinks. For instance, if you ordered a latte in Italy, you would get a glass of milk.

  5. Amazing list, thanks for sharing that!

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  7. Thank you for including the moka pot in your list! I discovered this gem of a coffee maker a few years ago in Italy and have been trying to introduce it to others ever since. For the love of all things caffeinated, people, PLEASE upgrade from your Keurig!

  8. Thank you for this, I wondered about some of those terms! Now I want some coffee…

  9. I always have a hot Latte (with double shot of espresso) near my writing desk when I do the weekday JAW column. Enjoy the column and I enjoy my early AM coffee.

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