By Abi Hillrich

Coffee shops have become a culture of their own in the wake of third wave coffee, a recent development of coffee culture that values specialty and highest quality. The sounds of milk steaming, people talking, and relaxing music playing in the background have always made the setting itself appealing for anything like getting work done or holding a conversation between friends. The delicious drinks aren’t the only thing drawing people to coffeeshops anymore. However, it is still important to understand the options that coffee shops provide. Though these drinks may not be listed on the menu of your favorite local shop, they are drinks that every barista has the ability to make.


Foam: the bubbly top of steamed milk when it is aerated well.

Microfoam: the bottom part of steamed milk when it is aerated evenly.

Espresso: concentrated coffee, with a little less caffeine than one cup of regularly brewed coffee.



A pourover is made with a device like a V60, Kalita Wave, or Chemex, with water poured slowly through the grounds. Usually served in a mug or Hario device, pourovers are one of the most common ways specialty coffee shops serve black coffee.

Drip Coffee

This coffee is made with airpot (large pot that holds many cups of coffee) and a machine designed to make coffee in these pots. This is the most common way to make coffee, and it’s hard to find a coffee shop without an airpot set up.

Red Eye

This is a cup of drip coffee with a double shot of espresso. It gives as much caffeine as possible, and a stronger, thicker mouthfeel.


  1. Traditional Macchiato

This drink is a single shot of espresso with a dollop of foam atop. Starbucks makes something they call a macchiato that is really just an upside-down latte (milk, then espresso). Drinks like a traditional macchiato, espresso, and sometimes even a cappuccino are served with a small shot of seltzer water to clear your palate after finishing the drink.

2. Cortado / Gibraltar

A gibraltar is made with a 1:1 ratio of espresso to steamed milk. This milk is steamed like a latte, with a consistent thickness throughout. In some cases, a cortado is just a gibraltar with added sweetener; in others, they are the same drink.

3. Cappuccino

This drink is a double-shot of espresso with steamed milk on top, made smaller than a latte. The milk for a cappuccino is steamed to contain much more foam for a layer on top of the milk and espresso mixture. If you are crazy about the foam and want more foam than milk, ask for a dry cappuccino. This will just be espresso, with a lot of foam on top (basically a larger macchiato with a slightly different ratio).

4. Flat White

A flat white is made the same size as a cappuccino, with a double-shot as well. The only difference between these two drinks is the milk consistency. For a flat white, milk is steamed more evenly, to “microfoam.” This is the creamiest part of the milk, at the bottom layer of the pitcher after it has been steamed. To get this milk, the barista will steam the milk like a latte, with consistent texture, and then pour out the top layer.

6. Latte

A latte is probably the most common steamed milk drink at coffee shops. It has a doubleshot of espresso, steamed milk, and often some added flavor. The milk is steamed to have a consistent texture throughout. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some cute art on top, too. If you want something a little creamier, ask for a breve latte. This is made with half-and-half, which gives it a delicious edge.

7. Cafe Au Lait

This drink is an interesting combination of a latte and a cup of coffee. The cafe au lait is made with a cup of brewed coffee and smooth steamed milk.

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