August 4, 2009

Ali’s Brief Introduction to Coffee Beverages

Espresso[1] [2]:
Espresso is a concentrated coffee beverage brewed by forcing hot water
under pressure through finely ground coffee. It is a relatively new
drink, introduced in the last century, since it requires special
machines (espresso machines) for its brewing. Espresso differs from
‘normal’ brewed coffee in the fact that the espresso machine is used
to create high pressure steam (up to 15 atmosphere) to pump through
the ground coffee. This results in a much higher concentration of the
final solution than is possible with just regular drip coffee makers
using gravity to move the water through the coffee grounds. Espresso
contains approximately two to three times the caffeine content of
regular drip brewed coffee. A shot of espresso has about half the
caffeine of a standard cup of drip brewed coffee.
Espresso ‘Shot’:
The act of producing a shot of espresso is often termed ‘pulling’ a
shot, originating from lever espresso machines which require pulling
down a handle attached to a spring-loaded piston, forcing hot water
through the coffee at high pressure. This process produces an almost
syrupy beverage by extracting and emulsifying the oils in the ground
As a result of the pressurized brewing process, all of the flavors and
chemicals in a typical cup of coffee are very concentrated. For this
reason, espresso is the base for other drinks:
Latte (Caffe Latte)[3]:
(1/3 espresso, 2/3 steamed milk)
What in English-speaking countries is now called a latte is shorthand
for ‘caffelatte’ meaning ‘coffee and milk’. Ordering a ‘latte’ in
Italy will get a large glass of hot milk, as latte simply means milk
in Italian. A Caffe Latte is typically prepared with approximately 1/3
espresso and 2/3 steamed milk, with a layer of foamed milk
approximately 5 mm thick on the top. Among all the drinks mentioned in
this guide, the Latte is the one with the most milk in it. Variants
include replacing the coffee with another drink base such as chai[4],
mate[5] or matcha[6].
(1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 foam)
A Cappuccino differs from a Caffe Latte in that it is prepared with
much less steamed or textured milk than the Caffe Latte. A cappuccino
is traditionally served in a porcelain cup, which has far better
heat-retention characteristics than glass or paper. The foam on top of
the cappuccino acts as an insulator and helps retain the heat of the
liquid, allowing it to stay hotter longer. A skilled barista will pay
special attention to attaining the correct texture of the milk and the
ratio of the foam while steaming the milk, thus making the Cappuccino
one of the most difficult espresso-based beverages to make properly.
Moreover, some may even obtain artistic shapes while pouring the milk
on the top of the espresso coffee[8].


Mochaccino (Cafe Mocha)[9]:
(1/3 espresso, 2/3 steamed milk, with chocolate)
A Cafe Mocha is a variant of the Caffe Latte except that a portion of
chocolate is added, typically in the form of sweet cocoa powder,
although many varieties use chocolate syrup. Unlike Cappuccino, Cafe
Mochas do not contain the well-known milk froth on top. They may have
whipped cream instead. A ‘White Mocha’ is a variant made with white
chocolate instead of milk or dark.
Macchiato is espresso with a small amount of hot, foamed milk.
‘Macchiato’ simply means ‘marked’ or ‘stained’, and in the case of
Caffe Macchiato, this means literally ‘espresso stained/marked with
milk’. The ‘mark’ or ‘stain’ refers to the foamed milk that is put on
top to indicate the beverage has a little milk in it (usually about a
Other beverages:
There are lots more coffee beverages. Here are some links for further reading:
Happy drinking!

[8] Latte Art:


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