Talking the Coffee Talk

There is nothing smarter than heading into a new cafe(or an old cafe, for that matter) with a bit of knowledge under your belt. As much as I love coffee, I am naturally suspicious of any coffee joint that I walk into. You would be amazed how many places try and baffle or zoom you with BS. Be prepared. Be informed. Do not let any cafe barista or owner pull the wool(or the beans) over your eyes! Learn the lingo!

Gaggia Espresso learn the langauge of the BaristaBarista --The espresso machine operator, one who is fully informed and practiced (hopefully) in the art of coffee preparation; means "bartender" in Italian. In Italy, a barista is a highly respected career.

Caffe Americano --Espresso diluted with hot water; one shot of espresso with up to seven ounces of water. The americano became popular in World-War II Italy with American G.I.'s would not quite stomach straight espresso

Cafe au Lait --Half drip-brewed coffee and half heated(not steamed) milk. Generally in America and Canada cafe's always get this one wrong -- they serve it as half coffee half steamed milk.

Caffe Breve --A latte made with half-and-half instead of milk.

Caffe Coretto --An espresso "corrected" with the addition of liquor, typically brandy or a liqueur. This is not something you can get at your local 'unlicensed' cafe.

Caffe Latte --Espresso with steamed milk and a thin(very thin) layer of foam on the top.

Caffe Mocha --Espresso mixed with chocolate and steamed milk and topped with steamed milk or whipped cream. Recipes vary so widely that this favorite has become fogged with variety.

Cappuccino --Espresso topped with foam.

Con Panna --Espresso topped with whipped cream.

Crema --The reddish-brown, creamy layer of foam that sits on top of a well-drawn espresso.

Doppio --A double shot of espresso.

Draw --To prepare an espresso shot. (See also Pull.)

Drip --Short for drip-brewed coffee.

Dry Cappuccino --A cappuccino with foam only, no steamed milk(which would be a latte!).

Espresso Pitcher --A small, three- to five-ounce pitcher that the barista brews espresso into.

Espresso Macchiato --Espresso "marked" or "stained" by milk foam. In American and Canadian cafes this is often a 'sullied' latte -- as in the Caramel Macchiato (Starbucks)

Flavored Espresso Drink --An espresso drink with a flavored syrup added.

Flat --No foam.

Grande --A sixteen-ounce serving of coffee or espresso drink. Terms like 'vente' are peculiar to Starbucks folks, so use this term sparingly outside of the doors of the green monster.

Granita --A dessert of shaved, sweetened ice flavored with coffee or fruit juice.

Group --An espresso machine's brewing chamber, comprising the group head and the portafilter.

Group Head --The circular unit that forms the upper half of an espresso machine's brewing chamber and into which the barista places the portafilter.

Group Switch --The button on the espresso machine that turns the group on and off.

Knockbox --A container with a padded bar across the top for the barista to use to "knock" the brewed coffee grounds out of the portafilter.

Lungo --A long shot of espresso, about one to two ounces per seven grams of coffee.

Mochaccino --An American invention that features espresso mixed with chocolate and topped with more foam and less steamed milk than a caffe mocha.

One Percent --An espresso drink made with milk that has 1 percent milk fat.

Packing(the portafilter) --The process of filling the portafilter with coffee.

Portafilter --A handled device with a brew basket at its end that fits into an espresso machine's group head.

Pull --Used as a verb to describe the act of making espresso, as in "to pull a shot."

Purist --A coffee aficionado who demands quality and shuns the use of flavored syrups and the practice of diluting espresso with copious quantities of milk; will only drink an espresso, a macchiato, or a cappuccino. Usually the least happy customer in today's marketing-driven specialty retail store.

Red Eye -- Shot of espresso poured into a mug of drip coffee. Also known as "a shot in the dark", a "bomb" and and other names...

Ristretto --A shot of espresso that is cut off at fifteen to twenty seconds (when the crema turns light brown) yielding less than one ounce per seven grams of coffee; an aficionado's ambrosia.

Short --An eight-ounce serving of coffee or espresso drink.

Short Shot --or Short Pull See Ristretto.

Skinny --An espresso drink made with nonfat milk.

Steam Wand --The thin metal tube on an espresso machine connected to the boiler that heats milk and produces foam.

Straight Shot --An espresso served without milk, steamed milk, or foam; the drink of true purists.

Tamping --The action of packing the coffee into the portafilter with enough force to ensure the proper extraction.

Wet Cappuccino --A cappuccino with foam and steamed milk; usually the espresso, foam, and steamed milk are in a 1:1:1 ratio.

With Legs --A drink to go.

Colin has lived in Victoria most of his life. Coffee is his passion. When he is not thinking about his next cup of coffee, he is drinking a cup of coffee. There is something wrong with that picture don't you think?