Unfamiliar with the coffee shop scene? Intimidated by the terminology on the menu boards?
Confused by all the questions the barista asks?
Don’t know what a barista is?
Don’t despair. Welcome to coffee house 101, where we’ll give the basic knowledge needed to order with confidence.
Let’s start with the basics. The word barista (buh-REE-stuh) comes from the Italian word for bartender. A barista is a person, usually a coffee-house employee, who prepares and serves espresso-based coffee drinks.
If confused, this is the person to ask for help. They can often recommend a drink based on your preferences.
HOT OR COLD?
If you order a drink, the barista will typically assume you want it hot, unless you say “iced” in front of your order. Pretty much any coffee shop drink can be served hot or iced. Another option for cold drinks is “blended” (think thicker, like a shake).
Different coffee shops have different terminology for their drink sizes. While some still offer small, medium and large, others change it up a bit. For example, Starbuck’s offers short (8 ounce), tall (12 ounce), grande (16 ounce) and venti (20 ounce for hot drinks and 24 ounce for iced drinks). Some stores also offer trenta (24 ounce).
NAME YOUR DRINK
Brewed – basic drip coffee.
Latte – basic expresso drink made with espresso and steamed milk.
Americano – strong espresso drink made with espresso and water.
Cappuccino – a foamy, frothy drink made with steamed milk and espresso. Order wet for not so much foam and dry for mostly foam.
Mocha – a latte (espresso and steamed milk) usually made without foam with chocolate added (milk or white chocolate).
Cafe macchiato – made with steamed milk and froth with a mark of espresso poured over the top instead of stirred into the drink
** Many coffee shops and chains have their own specialty drinks as well, such as Starbuck’s Frappuccino, Caribou’s Depth Charge and Cooler, and Dunn Bros Nirvana.
Some drinks have milk as their base, while others have water. For milk-based drinks, you can choose if you’d like nonfat, 2 percent, soy or half and half.
You can increase the caffeine in any drink by ordering extra shots, or decrease it by ordering “half caf” or decaf.
You can add sugar or flavored syrup to any drink. Most stores list their flavors and most also offer some flavors in a sugar-free option. There are also certain flavors that are considered “seasonal” that you can only get when in season, such as pumpkin.
Not a coffee drinker? Don’t despair. There are lots of other options at the local coffee shops as well, and most can be custom-made just for you like the coffee options. Following are a few of them.
Tea – the options are many! Again you can choose to have your tea made with water or milk, hot or iced, with flavor shots of choice.
Steamer – steamed milk.
Hot chocolate – steamed milk with dark, white or milk chocolate.
Other – cider, lemonade, smoothies
Substitute non-fat whip instead of regular whipped cream for fewer calories and fat grams, or “skip the whip” altogether.
Ask for skim milk to cut calories and fat grams, or choose the lactose-free soy milk for a healthier alternative.
Ask for sugar-free flavor syrup instead of the higher calorie regular flavor, or just get a half a shot instead of a full shot of the sweetened syrup.