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Coffee Glossary project

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It's time to incorporate a pinned glossary of coffee and espresso terms in the Coffee & Tea forum. We're looking for ways to distinguish ourselves from other online coffee resources and one thing has become quickly evident regarding the glossaries that currently exist:

1) They are usually either very broad based with inadequate detail or woefully short. The better ones try to cover every conceivable aspect of coffee and espresso terminology from bean and roast characteristics to cupping terms, drink preparation methods and names etc. but are very US-centric

2) None have any differentiation to account for regional, local or international variations

We have a relatively upscale user community that includes many people who travel and try to integrate a meaningful food and beverage experience as part of both their personal and business travel. Coffee terms in general and espresso terms in particular have significant variations from one country to another - possibly even regional variations within a country. Wouldn't it be great to know the right lingo in advance before you travel so coffee and espresso ordering will be fast and painless? Here's your chance :biggrin:

Here's where help is needed: the plan is to initially focus just on the terms commonly used to describe coffee and espresso drinks, as one would order them in a restaurant or cafe. I have a good handle on the US terminology (which is still open to variation as most of it has already been Starbuckized) but I'm not familair with many of the terms used in other countries. My exposrue to US terms is limited to the Northeast and the Northwest - folks with regional or local US terms should pipe up. This includes those problematic phrases such as "coffee regular" which in diner-speak means coffee with cream and sugar ("coffee light" is cream only and "coffee black" is just plain coffee).

Anyone with specific knowledge of a country and or region.... please offer your input to help us make this the premier resource for caffienated drink names. At the present time we will not be including "Moolatte" on the list for well known reasons :laugh:

American drinks to consider:

Drip coffee

Americano (espresso mixed with water)

Press pot coffee (aka French Press)


Double shot espresso ( do they call it doppio anywhere in the US other than Starbucks?



Espresso con panna (topped with whipped cream)

Lungo (long pull espresso - longer pull time than regular shot and more liquid)

Ristretto (restricted pull espresso - ground finer and same pull time as regular shot but less liquid)

Cafe Crema (coarser grind and slightly longer pull - like a drip coffee made in an espresso machine)

Machiatto (espresso shot "stained" or topped with a small amount of foamed milk)

Depth Charge or Red Eye - drip coffee with a shot of espresso added in

I'm aware that terminology varies from place to place - Italy, Spain and France have their own variations while Australia has a whole raft of other terms (e.g. a "flat white"). We also have the issues of discrepancy within the industry in the US itself - Starbucks calls any drink with extra milk foam a cappuccino and any drink with no extra foam a latte but they vary wildly in the espresso to milk ratio depending on drink size. The more savvy specialty independent espresso purveyors here in the US know how to create pourable microfoam with the milk - there is no separate foam to scoop on or leave off - the foam is integral to the milk. In these establishments the differentiation between cappuccino and latte is solely one of the espresso to milk ratio (cappucino's have a 1 to 2 or 1 to 3 ratio and lattes are a 1 to 4 or 1 to 5 ratio).

Any and all help appreciate including just pointing me to some existing online resources that may already have some of this info.

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In Eastern Canada, Tim Horton's sells a lot of coffee and are starting to become more popular on the West Coast. I haven't been there myself, but I understand that they have their own lingo - for instance a double double is brewed coffee with 2 sugars and 2 creams. If you are looking for this type of localized lingo, Tim Horton's would be a resource for Canadian heartland coffee-talk. But doesn't apply to the West Coast (yet).



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In Miami:

Café Cubano - Espresso with sugar added

Colada - A larger serving of the cubano. Generally served to-go in a styrofoam cup with a few thimble-sized cups so you can split it up with your companions.

In Spain:

Café Americano - plain, drip coffee

Café con Leche - Strong drip coffee with milk added

Cortado - a smaller version of café con leche.

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Caffè macchiato : It. "Stained coffee" (macchiare : "to stain"). Single serving of espresso with a few drops of steamed milk to "stain" the coffee. In America, usually includes substantially more milk.

Latte macchiato : It. "Stained milk" (macchiare : "to stain"). Steamed milk with a few drops of espresso to "stain" the milk. In America, usually includes substantially more coffee.

Macchiato : Am. from It. Largely known/understood as a Starbucks menu item, as in "caramel macchiato." Contrary to the Starbucks menu, macchiato does not mean "marked." Unclear as to how Starbucks differentiates between a "latte" and a "macchiato."

Latte : Am. from It. (literally translated as "milk") American version of latte macchiato, containing substantially more coffee than its Italian counterpart, or perhaps derrived from caffè latte. Largely known/understood as a Starbucks menu item.

Caffè latte/caffè-latte It. "coffee milk." a. In Italy, often made in the home with strong coffee (moka) and warmed milk in an approximately 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of coffee to milk. b. In America, another name for the American-defined "latte."


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Turkish/Greek/Lebanese/Arab Coffee:

originated in the Middle East in the Middle Ages. The coffee is very finely ground (finer than espresso), and is brewed unfiltered in little pots called ibriks or cezves. Extremely strong and taken in demi tasse cups, The brewed coffee has a viscous consistency and a sludge composed of the the coffee grains settles to the bottom of each cup which is then discarded. Usually drank sweet.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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What about that delicious Vietnamese Iced COffee? Does it have a name besides "delicious Vietnamese Iced Coffee"?

I love that stuff.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Drip coffee (Filter Coffee)

Press Pot

Vacuum Pot

Moka Pot

Cowboy Coffee

Percolater Coffee

Cold-brewed Coffee

Espresso (single, double, short, long, ristretto, caffe crema)


Machiatto (espresso, latte)



Caffe Latte

Caffe Breve

Espresso con Panna

Caffe Mocha

Espresso Forte

Caffe Correcto

Caffe Affogato

Cafe Cubano

Cafe con Leche

Red Eye (Depth Charge, Hammerhead, Shot in the Dark)

Edited by malachi (log)


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What about that delicious Vietnamese Iced COffee? Does it have a name besides "delicious Vietnamese Iced Coffee"?

I love that stuff.

CaFe Sua Da is the name. I just order it as "iced coffee with condensed milk". I've become a regular enough regular at my favorite local Viet restaurant that I just ask for iced coffee and that's what they bring me.

Cafe du Monde is probably the #1 brand used to make that CaFe Sua Da here in the US but Trung Nguyen brand is way better and now available online for about $6 per can.

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CDM is good stuff, but when I make V. coffee at home, I prefer Community New Orleans Blend.. THe CDM is a fine coffee, but I like the roast of the Community product better.

OTOH, this is the only time that I drink anything with Chicory in it. As my father once said, " If I wanted coffee that tasted like boiled acorns, I would join one of those Civil War Renactment groups."

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Some Spaniards terms:

Café solo: Black coffee.

Café con leche: White coffee, latte. Ask for it in the morning, and you'll get it in a large cup. Escaping to my understanding, ask for it after lunch and you'll get it in the same cup size as you'd get your solo or your cortado. So after lunch, if you want your usual dose, be sure to specify it. To make things more complicated, the bigger size of cup in Madrid is named mediana. If you ask for a mediana in Catalonia, that will buy you 1/3 lt of beer.

Cortado: Black coffee with a splash of milk

Con hielo: Iced black coffee

Lágrima: Black coffee with a drop of milk

Carajillo: Black coffee, 3-4 grains of coffee, lemon peel, and a shot of liquor (usually brandy). Some would add cinnamon to the mix.

Some background: we almost everytime have espresso coffee, not that thing you guys in the States refer to as coffee, which barely would qualify as dirty water in here :raz: . The only exception I know of this, would be café de puchero, which literally means pot's coffee. As the name indicates, it's ground coffee put on a china pot previously warmed with hot water, where you pour boiling water in two times (1/3 the first time, the rest on the second). Let it rest for some minutes, and use a strainer to get the final infusion.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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What about that delicious Vietnamese Iced COffee? Does it have a name besides "delicious Vietnamese Iced Coffee"?

I love that stuff.

There's also Thai Iced Coffee, which is similar to the Vietnamese except that it is spiced with cardamom and is usually brewed thru a muslin filter.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I've noticed here in Madrid that many ask for their morning cafe con leche in a "caña"--that is a tall glass. Better for dunking churros.

Pedro--I thought that a mediano was what you get when they use more water with the same amount of coffee in the espresso machine. In French it is called "allongé." I've heard it called a "long pull" in English... Or is there a different terminology for this in Spanish?

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Down in Miami I ran across coffee called cortadito, which was an espresso with a splash of cream in it... well, I'm not exactly sure what the dairy product was, but it tasted richer than plain milk.

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Add to the list the single dose "pods" or multiple dose "pods" pressure brewing such as the Senseo or the Home Café system by Black and Decker.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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I'll check in with the Portuguese terms I remember. These apply to the Lisbon area... some of these terms are different in the north.

Um café: an espresso-style coffee, served in a small espresso cup. In Lisbon, this is called, as often as not, uma bica. A café duplo, or bica dupla, is a double shot

Um café curto: a short shot (ristretto). Also called uma italiana.

Uma bica cheia, or um café cheio: a long shot of espresso.

Uma carioca: a bica with hot water. I seem to remember this is also called an americano (it's not something I ever ordered).

Um garoto: a bica with hot milk. This is a normal shot (which fills about half the espresso cup), filled the rest of the way with milk, so it ends up being about half coffee, half milk. Garoto is Portuguese slang for "kid" (as in child).

Um galão: a bica with hot milk served in a glass tumbler. This is basically one shot of coffee and the rest milk, so it ends up being quite milky.

Uma meia de leite: essentially a galão served in an American-style coffee cup.

Um café pingado (uma bica pingada): an espresso with just a splash of milk. You may be asked if you want your leite quente or frio (hot or cold milk). My daily breakfast drink of choice was a bica dupla pingada.

Edited by Eric_Malson (log)

My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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  • 1 year later...


Your name reminds me of the Japanese Barista Champion (and 2nd place at the 2005 World Barista Championship in Seattle), Hiroyuki Kadowaki. I know you're not the same guy, because the barista spoke almost no english.

Anyway... he did a great job... and maybe you'll come and watch the 2007 World Barista Championship, which will be held in Japan (I forget which city... NOT Tokyo).

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Here are some terms from my corner of the world (singapore):

Kopi-O : Strong Black Coffee, sweetened with sugar

Kopi-O Kosong: Strong Black Coffee

Kopi : Coffee sweetened with condensed milk

Kopi-Peng: Kopi cooled with ice

That should cover your needs if you want a cuppa from the local kopitiam instead of the standard starbucks/cbtl/espresso bar

edit: these terms should be the same in malaysia, not too sure about indonesia.

Edited by His Nibs (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

In pacific northwest...(or at least my neck of the woods!)

A "Red Eye", a "Depth Charge" and a "Shot in the Dark" are synonymous. Coffee, usually black, with a double shot of espresso added.

Also synonymous are "Cafe Affigato" and "Cold Shower". Ice cream with hot espresso poured over the top.

Many local cafes here have adopted Starbucksology...a Macchiato has to be explained to half of our customers who have suprised looks on thier faces when we tell them that it will NOT come in a 20 ounce size.


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This includes those problematic phrases such as "coffee regular" which in diner-speak means coffee with cream and sugar ("coffee light" is cream only and "coffee black" is just plain coffee).

As I recall from my youth, many afternoons wasted in Dunkin' Donuts and similar places (in New England) that "coffee light" usually meant "extra cream" and "regular coffee" would get cream but no sugar, the sugar being on the counter and you could add it yourself.

I do think it should be universally understood that if you go into any place that serves coffee, at least in the US, and say, "coffee, black," you should just be handed a cup, a small if there's a choice of sizes, of plain unflavored drip coffee, with nothing else in it. No questions, no hassle. Just be able to say, "coffee, black, please," and get coffee. Is that too much to ask? Apparently, in some places, it is.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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