From Bean Business
When you enter an espresso bar, the multitude
of drink choices can be overwhelming. What exactly is a latté,
and how does it differ from a cappuccino? The following primer will
give you a good understanding of basic espresso bar beverages and
make you a pro when orderingeven in Italy!
The straight shot is the foundation
of every espresso beverage, and it is the most commonly consumed coffee
beverage in Italy. The straight shot is the only true way to judge
the quality and consistency of a blend of espresso coffee. A good
coffee, when extracted as a straight shot, will produce a smooth yet
complex taste, providing a satisfying experience. The volume, extraction
time, and golden crema (a dense golden brown layer of frothed coffee
oils that float on top of a properly extracted espresso) are the keys
to good espresso.
The two variations of the straight shot are
the long shot or lungo, extracted to a volume of one
and one-half ounces, and the short shot or ristretto (which
means restricted), extracted to a volume of three-quarters
of an ounce. The short restricted pour magnifies the essence of the
coffee, and the ristretto is the manner in which a shot of
espresso is usually served in Europe. Also, because less water has
passed through the coffee grounds, the chance of any bitter elements
being extracted is minimized.
The straight shot you order should be extracted
directly into a warmed demitasse cup and served immediately. The demitasse
cup should be pre-heated on top of the espresso machine or filled
with hot water to keep the straight shot warm and prolong the crema.
A straight shot in a "to-go" cup will cool quickly and should be drunk
The Espresso Macchiato
The Espresso Macchiato starts with a shot of espresso
and is also served in a demitasse. The only difference between a straight
shot and an Espresso Macchiato is a small amount of foamed milk spooned
over the shot (typically one heaping teaspoon). Macchiato in Italian
means "marked," which describes this beverageespresso
marked with foam.
The Espresso Con Panna
This is a variation of the macchiato substituting
whipped cream in place of the foamed milk. Translated, con panna means
The Caffé Americano
The Caffé Americano is a single or double
shot of espresso combined with hot water out of the espresso machine
to produce a drink similar to American brewed coffee. This method
produces a smoother and fresher cup of coffee than conventional brewing.
Because this cup of coffee is served immediately after brewing, it
may be much hotter than brewed coffee that has been poured into a
thermal pot, or placed on a warming burner. Be sure to ask for a double
paper cup to prevent your hands for being burned by the hot coffee
prepared using this method.
Most cappuccinos in Italy are consumed primarily
in the morning. In the United States, it is a popular drink at all
times of the day. Rumor has it that the name cappuccino was derived
from the chocolate brown color of the Capuchin monks robes.
cappuccino is without a doubt the most difficult drink to prepare
properly. Cold milk is essential, as is expertise in the foaming process.
What is often served in the United States is an espresso with dry,
tasteless foam spooned on top. These misprepared beverages will often
look as if they have a column of meringue floating on top. Properly
prepared, authentic cappuccino is produced with a velvety, wet foam,
mixed with the coffee upon the pour to create a harmony of the two
flavors. Because of the larger volume of foam, it will be a lighter
weight drink than the latté, which we will discuss next. Contrary
to many products being marketed presently, there is no such thing
as an iced cappuccino. Foam is the essential element of this beverage,
and it is impossible to produce iced foam. In reality these drinks
are iced lattés.
The Caffé Latté
This is the drink that Seattle made famous. It
is similar to the cappuccino with much less foam and more steamed
milk. A latté can be made by holding back the foam with a spoon
while pouring the frothed milk from the steaming pitcher. The drink
is topped at the conclusion of the pour with a small amount of foam
(approximately 30%). This drink can be served over ice. It is not
necessary to steam the milk first for the preparation of an iced latté.
The espresso can be combined with the milk, poured directly from its
carton. Latté in Italian means milk. Caffé latté,
of course, refers to the addition of coffee to the milk.
The Caffé Mocha
A variation of the caffé latté is
the caffé mocha. This is basically the same drink as the latté
with either powdered or chocolate syrup added at the beginning of
the drink preparation. It is important that chocolate is first added
to the hot shot of espresso, and stirred well enough to thoroughly
blend the two flavors together. The procedure should be the same with
iced mochas, with the ice added after the coffee and chocolate have
been blended. The steamed or cold milk can then be added to the espresso-chocolate
mixture to complete the drink. Mochas are usually topped with whipped
The foundation of these beverages is, once again,
the caffé latté. Almost any gourmet-flavored syrup can
be added. Some of the more popular flavors are: vanilla, Irish creme,
almond, hazelnut, and caramel. Some fruit flavors such as orange and
raspberry also work well. Syrup can also be added to chocolate and
the espresso to make a flavored mocha. When adding flavors to the
beverage, they should be combined with the hot espresso and stirred.
The milk can then be added to the flavored espresso and stirred again.
All of these drinks taste great over ice.
From Bean Business Basics,
a pulication of Bellissimo
Coffee InfoGroup, a company dedicated to providing high quality
educational materials, personalized business consulting and custom
media production for the specialty coffee industry. Bellissimo can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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