Beginner’s Guide to Coffee

There are over two dozen different types of coffee drinks in the world. The sheer variety of coffee can seem overwhelming, especially to beginners. Personally, I have definitely ordered coffee that I have never even seen before. I remember puzzling over what exactly was a cappuccino, and why it was different from a breve or an americano. Here is a quick guide to some of the most popular coffee drinks.

  1. 1. Espresso


    Although it is a coffee drink on its own, the word espresso actually refers to a way of making coffee. Essentially, it is the process of straining boiling hot water through ground up coffee beans. The machine that is used in the process is thus called an espresso machine. As a drink, espresso is made up of just the strained liquid from the process. 

  2. 2. Americano

    american coffee

    Think of americanos as the younger sister of espressos. They are essentially just one shot of espresso diluted with hot water. 

  3. 3. Flat White

    flat white coffee

    This one is more like a cousin of the espresso family. You have your usual shot of espresso, but layered on top with steamed milk instead of hot water. 

  4. 4. Cafe Latte

    cafe latte

    This drink builds on the flat white. The first and second layers respectively are espresso and steamed milk, but an additional third layer of thin milk foam is added on top. Consider this like the uncle of flat whites. 

  5. 5. Breve

    breve coffee

    This drink is less seen on menus, but it is basically the same thing as a cafe latte. They are so similar that they can honestly be called twins. The ingredients for a breve are almost exactly the same as a cafe latte, but instead of milk, half-and-half is used instead. 

  6. 6.  Cappuccino


    Cappuccinos are built with the same ingredients that a cafe latte uses. The key difference between the two drinks however, are the ingredient proportions. A cappuccino has a thinner milk layer that is compensated for by a thicker milk foam on top. 

  7. 7. Mocha


    This is probably my favorite coffee drink, and also the sweetest on this list. Mochas consist of espresso, steamed milk, milk foam, and chocolate syrup. Depending on the coffee shop, some mochas can also be layered with whipped cream.