It can be daunting creating your coffee shop menu. All these Italian beverage names meaning different things, you may be overwhelmed. We created a simple guide to 15 of the most common coffee drinks so you'll always have a reference!Jump to Graphic
1. Black Coffee
This is the most common type of coffee. It's made by brewing coffee as you normally would: drip, pour-over, french press, or however you make it. You serve it with no add-ins. It's the easiest drink for your coffee shop.
Espresso is much stronger than regularly brewed coffee. It's a method of brewing coffee where nearly boiling water is forced through finely ground coffee beans. It creates a concentrated, syrup-like coffee drink. This is the base for many Italian drinks in coffee shops.
3. Latte/Iced Latte
A latte is espresso with steamed milk and a small amount of milk foam on top. This is basically the American form of a cappuccino. Rather than being equal parts foam, milk, and espresso, it has much more milk. It's smoother and gentler for a more American palette. You can add flavoring syrup to it to make different variations. For iced lattes, pour your espresso and steamed milk over ice.
Americanos are common coffee drinks and they're incredibly easy to make! It's just espresso with hot water poured over it. It was invented during World War II. European baristas added water to their espresso to give it a smoother, less concentrated flavor for the American soldiers stationed there. That's why it's called the Americano!
Cappuccinos are made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and thick foam. Originally, it was made by Italian monks called Capuchins but you can easily make it in your coffee shop today!
Mochas are espresso-based drinks made with chocolate and whipped cream instead of foam. Their ratio of espresso to milk and other ingredients depends on the coffee shop. They tend to range between the ratio of cappuccinos and lattes. Whether you prefer more espresso or more milk, your mocha is sure to shine in your coffee shop.
7. Cafe Au Lait
Cafe au lait or cafe con leche is equal parts strong hot coffee and steamed milk. It's a traditional French coffee drink consumed with breakfast.
Macchiato means spotted, so a macchiato espresso is espresso with a spot of milk. Most coffee shops will add a dollop of foamed milk rather than just steamed milk.
This is what's known as a traditional macchiato. You may know macchiatos as what Starbucks serves as their caramel macchiato. These are closer to lattes. They're served with flavored syrup on the bottom, milk on top of that, then espresso, and caramel sauce.
9. Flat White
Originating in Australia, flat whites are espresso and micro-foamed milk. The ratio of espresso to milk is 1:4. This ratio is important to get right, otherwise it turns into a latte or a cappuccino.
10. Irish Coffee
Irish coffee is definitely not a traditional morning drink. It's a cocktail made with drip coffee and Irish whiskey with a layer of lightly whipped cream on top.
This is basically a blended latte. They're traditionally made with espresso, ice, milk, and flavoring syrup, all combined in a blender. Most people top it with whipped cream too!
12. Cold Brew
Cold brew coffee is a smooth, cold beverage made by steeping coarsely ground coffee in cool or room temperature water for many hours. The time replaces the heat of traditionally brewed coffee. Cold brew coffee is more of a coffee concentrate, it's incredibly strong. Some coffee shops will water it down for their drinks.
This is less of a drink and more of an ice cream sundae. It's ice cream or gelato with hot espresso poured over it. The hot espresso slightly melts the ice cream and the ice cream cools the espresso, they're perfectly complementary to one another.
14. Red Eye
Red eye is a less common coffee drink. It's basic drip coffee with espresso added. Its high concentration of caffeine makes it a favorite for those needing a major energy boost.
15. Vietnamese Coffee
This is a different method of brewing coffee. To make it, add sweetened condensed milk to the bottom of a heat-proof glass. Then, place a Vietnamese coffee filter over your glass. Add your desired amount of ground coffee and pour nearly boiling water over it. This will result in creamy, sweet coffee.
We hope this explanation of the most common coffee drinks helps you understand what each of your menu items means and how you can make it in your coffee shop.