Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Coffee Terminology - like what is a ristretto??

I was about to write a blog on the new Handpresso Ristretto Intense Portafilter and how cool it is, but then I realized, there are a lot of people out there who 1) don't know how to pronounce that and 2) don't even know what it is.
No fault of your own, Starbucks doesn't educate the public on all of these terms - so I would like to take it upon myself to explain to you, my lovely readers, all of the possibilites of an espresso.  Ready to be blow away?  Here we go...


An Italian dessert drowning in espresso. Affogatos can be made by covering ice cream with strong coffee. A typical Italian Affogato is a scoop of vanilla gelato covered with a shot of espresso and served immediately. Affogatos should not have too much melted ice cream or gelato, and should be bitter-sweet with a combination of textures. Popular Affogatos include Vanilla Affogato, Mocha Affogato, and Peppermint Affogato.  


A coffee beverage made from a shot or two of espresso mixed with hot water to make a full sized drink. Americano is short for "Caffe Americano", which is Italian for espresso coffee served American style.  


Biscotti (pronounced "bis-koh-tee"), in Italian, refers to twice baked cookies. In North America, biscotti are mostly associated with coffee. A Biscotto (singular form of Biscotti) is a dipping cookie. In Italy biscotti are generally dipped into wine. Traditionally, biscotti were almond flavored. Today, because of their popularity in coffee houses, many different ingredients are added: dried fruits, chocolate, nuts, seeds, spices, etc. Biscotti are often served frozen with melted chocolate or frosting, topped with nuts or even coated with colored sprinkles.  

Black and White

An alcoholic drink made from one part coffee liquor, usually Kahlua, and one part milk or vanilla schnapps. Carefully layer 1/2 ounces coffee liquor over 1/2 ounces of milk, or vanilla schnapps, in a shot glass and serve.  

Black Eye

A cup of American coffee with two shots of espresso added. Also known as a Sling Blade, Depth Charge, Shot in the Dark, Cafe Tobio, Autobahn, or Hammerhead.  

Black Russian

An alcoholic coffee drink. To make a Black Russian, fill a rocks glass with Crushed ice, add 1.5 ounce vodka and 1.5 ounce Coffee Liqueur.  

Belgian Coffee

An after-dinner beverage made by folding a beaten egg white into whipped cream, mixing it into a cup of coffee, and garnishing the froth with grated bittersweet chocolate.


A milk based espresso drink made with half-and-half, or light cream, instead of whole milk. Breve means "short" in Italian, and in some locations refers to a cappuccino made with light cream.  

Café and Caffe


The French and Italian words for both coffee, the drink, and the shop where you can drink it.

Cafe au Lait

Similar to a Latte, but made with filter drip or French Press coffee instead of espresso. To make a simple Cafe au Lait, mix equal portions of brewed coffee and heated or steamed milk. The "French" style is to serve a Cafe au Lait in a white porcelain cup or bowl. Cafe au Lait is French for "coffee with milk".  


A beverage made from espresso, hot milk, and frothed milk. To make a Cappuccino, add equal parts of espresso, hot steamed milk, and velvety milk froth. A dry Cappuccino is the same drink without the hot milk. Cappuccinos are traditionally served in a small cup, or demitasse.  

Espresso con Panna

Italian for "espresso with cream", an Espresso Con Panna is a shot of espresso topped with a dollop of whipped cream.  

Espresso Granita

A slushy chopped ice dessert made from espresso. The word "granita" comes from the Italian the word "grano" meaning "grain", a reference to the grainy texture of ice used to make a Granita. To make an Espresso Granita, freeze extra strong sweetened espresso, crush or chop finely, and serve in a clear glass topped or layered with whipped cream.  

Iced Mocha

Caffe Mocha served cold with ice. To make an Iced Mocha, add chocolate to bottom of glass, add espresso and mix well, then add milk until the glass is two thirds full and mix well. Add ice last, or pour into and ice filled glass, and cover with whipped cream if desired.  

Irish Coffee

An alcoholic coffee drink. To make and Irish Coffee, pour a shot of Irish whiskey into a warmed whiskey glass and add three sugar cubes (3 tsp). Fill with strong black coffee to within one inch of top. Stir gently and top to the brim with slightly aerated heavy cream.  


A shot or two of espresso in a cup filled with frothy steamed milk. Baristas will sometimes pour the frothy milk through the espresso in an open mug to make an artistic design in the crema (espresso foam) floating on the surface. "Latte" is short for "Caffe Latte", which is Italian for "coffee with milk".  


Italian for "spotted". There are two types of Macchiatos, "Latte Macchiatos" and a "Caffe Macchiatos". To make a Caffe Macchiato, also called "Espresso Macchiato", fill a small glass with espresso and dab a spoonful of velvety frothed milk on top. To make a Latte Macchiato, pour espresso into frothy steamed milk leaving a dark spot on top. 

Mocha Latte

A Mocha Latte, or Mocha, is a coffee drink made from espresso, chocolate syrup, and steamed milk. To make a Mocha, coat the bottom and sides of the cup or mug with about 1/2 oz. of chocolate syrup. Add a shot or two of espresso and fill with steamed milk. Add whipped cream if desired.  

Red Eye

A cup of American style drip coffee with a shot of espresso added. Also called a Shot in the Dark, a Depth Charge, or and Eye Opener. Variations of the Red Eye include the Black Eye, made with two shots of espresso, and the Dead Eye, made with three shots of espresso.  


A very "short" shot of espresso coffee. Originally this meant pulling a hand press (shown at right) faster than usual using the same amount of water as a regular shot of espresso. Since the water came in contact with the grinds for a much shorter time the caffeine is extracted in reduced ratio to the flavorful coffee oils. The resultant shot could be described as bolder, fuller, with more body and less bitterness. All of these flavors are usually attributed to espresso in general, but are more pronounced in ristretto. Today, with the hand press out of favor and modern automated machines generally less controllable, ristretto usually just means less water; a double espresso shot is typically around 60 ml (2 fl oz), while a double ristretto is typically 45 ml (1–1.5 fl oz).

 Glossary of Coffee Terminology - Copyright Zecuppa Coffee, LLC