Guide to Coffee Shop Lingo

Walking into a bustling coffee shop can sometimes feel like stepping into a foreign land. The air is filled with the rich aroma of freshly ground beans, and the menu boards are adorned with a variety of names and terms that can be bewildering to newcomers. Fear not, for this beginner’s guide to coffee shop lingo is here to help you navigate the world of espresso-based beverages, brewing methods, and ordering etiquette.

Espresso-Based Beverages

a. Espresso: The foundation of many coffee drinks, espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee brewed by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans. It’s strong, bold, and the building block for a multitude of coffee concoctions.

b. Americano: Made by diluting a shot of espresso with hot water, the Americano offers a milder flavor and a similar strength to traditional brewed coffee.

c. Latte: A latte is a coffee drink made with one-third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk. It has a smooth and creamy texture, with a balance of coffee and milk flavors.

d. Cappuccino: This classic favorite consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Its rich, frothy top layer sets it apart from other beverages.

e. Mocha: For those with a sweet tooth, the mocha blends espresso with steamed milk, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream, creating a delightful fusion of coffee and chocolate.

f. Flat White: Hailing from down under, the flat white is similar to a latte but is characterized by a higher coffee-to-milk ratio and velvety microfoam.

Brewing Methods

a. French Press: A manual brewing method that involves steeping coarsely-ground coffee in hot water and then pressing it with a plunger. It produces a full-bodied and rich cup of coffee.

b. Pour-Over: Involves manually pouring hot water over coffee grounds in a filter. It allows for precise control over brewing time and water flow, resulting in a clean and nuanced cup of coffee.

c. AeroPress: This compact device uses air pressure to brew coffee quickly. It’s known for its versatility and ability to create both espresso-like shots and regular coffee.

d. Cold Brew: Coffee grounds are steeped in cold water for an extended period, typically 12-24 hours. The result is a smooth, low-acid coffee concentrate that’s often diluted with water or milk.

Ordering Etiquette

a. “To Go” or “For Here”: When placing your order, indicate whether you want your beverage to be prepared in a disposable cup (“to go”) or a reusable mug (“for here”).

b. Size Terminology: Coffee shops often have their own size names, such as “tall,” “grande,” and “venti.” These names correspond to small, medium, and large sizes, respectively.

c. Customizations: Don’t be afraid to customize your drink to suit your preferences. You can request alternative milk options, adjust the level of sweetness, or even ask for extra foam.

d. Deciphering the Menu: Take your time to understand the menu descriptions. Terms like “caramel macchiato” or “vanilla latte” might sound fancy, but they simply refer to the presence of caramel or vanilla flavoring in your drink.

e. Be Patient: Especially during peak hours, coffee shops can get busy. Be patient and wait your turn to place your order. A little courtesy goes a long way.


Stepping into a coffee shop doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience. Armed with this beginner’s guide to coffee shop lingo, you can confidently order your favorite espresso-based beverages and explore different brewing methods. Whether you’re sipping on a velvety latte, enjoying the simplicity of a pour-over, or taking a refreshing sip of cold brew, you’re now equipped to navigate the world of coffee with ease. So go ahead, indulge in the rich aromas and flavors that coffee shops have to offer, and remember, there’s always something new to learn and taste in the world of coffee. If you found this article useful, you may also visit Wilmar Coffee Shop to read more about coffee shop lingo.