Coffee 101: How to Order the Best Drink

Coffee 101: How to Order the Best Drink
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Coffee 101: How to Order the Best Drink

The popular latte is an Italian espresso drink with two parts steamed milk and one part coffee. It's generally larger than a cappuccino it has more milk and is served in a 7-ounce cup. Since the milk is only steamed and doesn't have extra texture from a large amount of foam.

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There is a common misconception that espresso is a bean or a roast. Actually, the word espresso refers to a brewing method. Espresso simply describes coffee that has been made in an espresso machine.

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This is a common espresso-based beverage from Italy that contains one part espresso, one part steamed milk, and one part frothed milk. If made properly, each sip should contain equal parts of coffee, milk, and foam.

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An Americano is a shot of espresso with water added to extend it. This creates a diluted taste that is closer to American filtered coffee than a shot of espresso. As much as 6 to 8 ounces of water can be added, though the amount is easily altered to suit personal preference.

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Despite the different names, the only thing that distinguishes the Cortado from the Gibraltar is which coffee shop you order it from. Cortado is a Spanish drink of espresso "cut" by steamed milk (cortado is Spanish for cut).

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While Starbucks has made the macchiato famous, its version only bears a fleeting resemblance to the real thing. A traditional macchiato is a shot of espresso topped with a tiny portion of frothed milk.

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Café au Lait
This is a French drink made of strong, filtered coffee and scalded milk (milk that has been heated up but not steamed or frothed). It has a 1:1 ratio of coffee and milk. Looking for this drink at Starbucks? You'll want a misto, which is the Italian word for this brewed coffee beverage.

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Flat White
A Flat White is an Australian espresso drink that's gaining popularity in England and America. It's the in-between of a cappuccino and a latte, served in a 6-ounce glass. It approximates the size of a cappuccino, but the milk is tightly steameD.

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Cold Brew
Cold Brew refers to a method of brewing iced coffee that involves soaking the grounds in water for around eight hours in order to extract a full-bodied flavor. It produces a concentrate, which then can be watered down to the strength of your choosing.

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Japanese Iced Coffee
This is a method for quickly making iced coffee in which you brew coffee over ice. The coffee is brewed in double strength over ice, so that the ice melts and dilutes the coffee as it's being prepared.

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Iced Coffee
Regular iced coffee can either be coffee left to cool, or strong hot coffee poured directly over ice. However, this often results in a diluted flavor, which is why new brewing methods for iced coffee have become popular recently.

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Pour Over
This is a method of brewing coffee that involves pouring hot water over coarsely ground coffee and filtering it out to produce a large quantity. Though there are many methods, they all use the same process of steeping the ground beans in hot water.

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Coffee lovers tend to fall into one of two categories: those who need the brown liquid to jolt them awake for their day, and those who prefer to linger over their cup and identify the different flavor notes. Though the beverage may inspire sighs of devotion or exclamations of salvation, choosing the proper coffee drink can be tricky for even the pickiest of coffee snobs. Even though Starbucks has made the words "latte" and "cappuccino" part of mainstream American culture, most of us are still perplexed as to what the differences are between these drinks. The increasingly strange names created by trendy cafés — what is a Gibraltar? — make figuring out which drink you want before you reach the cash register seem like an impossible task.

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Never fear — these drinks are easily demystified. The different names relate to how the drinks are brewed, how much milk is added and, sometimes, how they are served. The drinks can be further classified by their country of origin, which is readily discernable through the name.

Though it might all seem overwhelming at first, the best way to understand the differences between these caffeinated drinks is simply to try as many different coffee beverages as possible. For those who are just entering the world of coffee, a cappuccino is a great place to start "to understand the presence of espresso, the value in the way it balances with the milk, and the skill and craft of its preparation," says Cesar Vega, owner and barista at Café Integral in New York City.

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