Coffee Menus Explained

You go into a new coffee shop and the first thing you do is look at the menu. More often than not this is met with confusion.

The familiar names you are used to are not on the menu or even worse, you order something and end up surprised. This is super frustrating, and surprisingly enough this sometimes happens to me.

The issue lies in the fact that there are very few standards. Often it could be a simple as one person’s idea versus another. So with this in mind I will try and decipher some of the “standards.”

I am going to focus on espresso-based beverages, because that’s where I feel there is the most mystery.

At Chattahoochee we try and keep things simple.

All of our espresso-based beverages come standard with a double shot of espresso. Yes, a tiny espresso has the same amount of caffeine as a large latte.

So for starters, an espresso is often served as a double shot, usually around 1.5 - 2 ounces of liquid, and has a similar amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.

After espresso the next beverage increasing in size would be a Macchiato. Oh how a certain company’s branding has created some of the greatest confusion in coffee shops. Traditionally a macchiato is espresso with a dollop of steamed milk foam. Macchiato, in Italian, means stained or spotted, and refers to the bit of milk staining the espresso.

A Cortado, sometimes referred to as a piccolo or gibraltar is espresso “cut” with equal parts steamed milk. The name cortado is derived from the spanish verb cortar, “to cut,” which refres to the diluting of espresso.

Next is the cappuccino. At Chattahoochee, a cappuccino is a 5.5 ounce beverage with espresso and steamed milk. I think the best definition for a cappuccino is what the World Barista Championships used to define it as; a 5-6 ounce beverage with 1 cm of foam.

A latte can be anything from an 8 ounce beverage to a whopping 20 ounce beverage! At Chattahoochee we have an 8 ounce and a 12 ounce option, both consisting of the same double shot of espresso.

The Americano is espresso diluted with water. A popular belief is that it originated with GIs in WWII who wanted to have a cup of coffee so they would dilute their espresso with water.

A good way to think about all of these different beverages is how it tastes. The caffeine content is not going to change, but the ratio of espresso to milk or water will change, thus the flavor and texture of the drink will change as well. So, if you want something with a coffee-forward flavor, go with a Macchiato or a Cortado. And if you want something that’s more creamy and sweet, go with a Latte.

If you’re in a cafe and you don’t recognize something on the menu, just let the barista know what you like and they should be able to help you out. And rest assured any Chattahoochee barista will gladly navigate the menu with you. We all love to talk about coffee, so as always come on by with any questions.



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