How to order the perfect coffee anywhere in the world
“A coffee please.” What could be so hard about that?
If you ask for ‘a coffee‘ in a United States diner, you will generally be served a cup of filtered coffee, with the option of warm milk poured in at the table. It is common for waiters to pass through the restaurant and offer refills without charge. In France, however, a person who asks for just a coffee (‘un café’) will receive a thick, concentrated coffee with a height of under 3 centimetres. In Australia, if you simply say ‘a coffee please‘, the barista will have no idea what to make.
This is a guide for ordering coffee in cafes that use espresso coffee machines.
In my opinion, the best coffee is espresso; a small amount of hot water pushed through finely ground coffee beans. It should be straight, short and black. Of course, you must be in an establishment with a proper coffee machine to be able to order this. In Spain this is called café solo and in Argentina café solo chico. In France, Italy, and Arabic countries, this is just a coffee, or un café. In English, it is always espresso. Put two of these coffees in the same cup and it becomes a double espresso or doppio.
This double espresso is not to be confused with a long black, which is simply one coffee shot, topped up with hot water. In the UK, if you ask for a black coffee, this is what you will receive. In most other European countries this is called americano, or long black.
Easy enough? When we start adding milk, things become more confusing.
For the most commonly ordered coffee in the world – a single espresso shot topped up with steamed milk, it is café con leche in all Spanish speaking countries, café au lait in French, and cafe latté in Italian. The Anglophone world generally uses the Italian name as well. A flat white may have a little less milk, and a little more foam than a latté, however many cafés don’t distinguish between them.
A cappuccino is generally the same as a latté but with cocoa powder added on top, and, possibly, more foam.
If you prefer a single coffee short with just a little hot milk added, this is commonly called cortado in Spanish. In English speaking countries people generally say piccolo, however Macchiato may also be used. If both of these are on the menu, then the macchiato will probably have even less milk than the piccolo.
If you have a sweet tooth, and like to have a mixture of coffee and chocolate, then this is mocha all over the world.
Hopefully, this guide will have helped you to be able to order the exact coffee you want, wherever you are. If not, then please leave a comment below and we will try to be more specific!