With drink menus offering options into the triple digits, ordering coffee these days is both an art and a science. There's espresso to roast, milk to steam, and a velvety texture to perfect, and that doesn't even touch the ever-revolving door of speciality drinks making their way into shops.
What's the difference between all these coffee drinks, and which one suits your taste best? From latte to Americano and everything in between, this rundown will make your next beverage order a breeze.
One of the most popular drinks on the planet, cappuccinos are an Italian export we all know and love. It's a blend of steamed and foamed milk and a shot of espresso, but the art lies in the distinct layering between them.
Perfected during World War II, the cappuccino didn't reach celebrity status in America until the 1980s. The layering goes as follows: espresso, steamed milk, thick and airy foamed milk. It has a robust espresso flavor with a 1-to-1 liquid-to-foam ratio that coffee aficionados love.
Lattes are the most-ordered coffee beverage in America, and with good reason. Like cappuccinos, they're made with both steamed and foamed milk, but key differences set them apart. A latte has more steamed milk than its competitor, with the espresso and steamed milk mixed together rather than layered.
Both drinks start with espresso, but the latte's end result is rich, creamy, and often tweaked with flavor shots ranging from vanilla to peppermint patty.
A shot of espresso diluted in hot water, this popular drink is similar to black coffee. The name dates back to WWII, when American soldiers stationed in Italy found themselves out of luck when seeking a coffee fix.
Using hot water to dilute the bitter versions they found made it more palatable, and the name stuck.
When a cappuccino and a doppio combine, you get the macchiato. It's an espresso with a splash of milk, and you'll often see flavors such as hazelnut, caramel, or vanilla. The perfect espresso is all in the quality; the milk needs to be just enough to lighten the coffee's color and pierce the black surface. Any more or less and it's not quite the same.
The name means "marked" or "spotted," which refers to the milk hitting the espresso as you pour it in.
Mochas are a favorite among chocolate enthusiasts in both hot and iced versions. Rich, sweet, and oh so delicious, this chocolate espresso drink combines these ingredients with foam and steamed milk to produce a flavorful blend.
Widely popular in the cooler months, they're regular lattes with chocolate, essentially, but oh so much sweeter.
Sometimes, the minimalist in us wants something simple, and that's when the classic café au lait comes in handy. By adding a splash of warm milk to black coffee, you have a basic-but-better drink with just the right amount of flavor. It's quick, strong, and easy to take on the go.
The flat white has been popping up at speciality coffee shops across the globe for some time now, often referred to as the latte's modern counterpart. About as no-nonsense as it gets, this popular go-to combines espresso with steamed milk, followed by a final layer of thin microfoam.
It has a creamy feel with a simple flavor that's never too sweet, which is why this Aussie-originated drink is making its rounds in the coffee community.
This flavor-packed iced drink with blended coffee, flavoring, whipped cream, and syrup might have been made popular by Starbucks, but its fame has only grown since.
Now, you can find delicious varieties ranging from double dark chocolate with fudge to oreo, mint chocolate chip, strawberry shortcake, and so many more.
Iced coffee is what it sounds like — strong coffee served over ice. Usually, it's served with cream and sugar as well. Coffee lovers praise it for its for its on-the-go convenience, as well as the assortment of flavor combinations.
Stir in hazelnut, chocolate, caramel, or vanilla syrup, and you've got a whole new drink.
Steeping coffee beans without the heat draws out the flavor in a way most casual drinkers never thought possible, which is why this trend is picking up speed.
Beans are steeped from 6 to 36 hours to create the most delicious, potent, and flavorful blend possible, with cream and sugar mixed in after that vital first step.