Do you ever cringe when the Starbucks barista still gets your name wrong after you’ve repeated it twice, specified ‘It’s Giulia, with Gi instead of J’, agreed to spell it 4 times, finally resolved to write it down for them to ‘copy-&-paste’ on the cup and you still walk out with a Guilia (or worse) written on your large Vanilla Bean Macciato?
Annoying isn’t it? And you know what’s worse than having the wrong name on your cup? The fact that you walked out spelling the name of your drink wrong, truly certain that macciato is an acceptable spelling for the content of your  wrongly-labeled cup. Well, to me macciato without an H is just as cringe-worthy. Of course a misspelled name is no tragedy, but you can’t really blame the poor youth in the green apron who’s been up since 5.30am to be there and serve you your daily dose of caffeine with the wrong name on it, if you then you text your friend Jessica to meet for a café latté or a macciato.

Also, I bet you get confused and even a bit panicked whenever on the list is more than the usual espresso , cappuccino,  latte,  flat white. You’d really like to try that weirdly-spelled-don’t-even-know-how-to-say-that-word-what’s-in-it-anyway drink at the bottom of the list, but you don’t want to look like you don’t have a clue because coffee is your life, but nobody told you you’d have to learn Elvish to order one?!
Well don’t panic, because we are here to help. By the end of this post you’ll master the art of spelling most names of coffee based drinks and know exactly what’s in them. So sit down and feel free to take notes.

Espresso based drinks.

Espresso: aka coffee in its purest and most glorious state. The -oh at the end of the word is what you exclaim when you have a sip and your brain magically turns on and you realise you can elaborate thoughts so early in the morning. Espresso is an Italian name, so keep in mind that there is no such thing as expresso or ecspresso, let me hear that that hissing essss-.  

Double Espresso: Same coffee, double the trouble.

Ristretto: A richer and more concentrate version of an espresso. The word in Italian means ‘shrunk’ because it’s pulled with the same amount of coffee  of an espresso, but less water.




Espresso Macchiato: Macchiato (with an H!) is Italian for ‘stained’. It’s a regular espresso with added a dash of milk foam. While in the UK this drink comes with milk foam as default, in Italy you may want to ask for a Schiumato(‘schiuma’  means foam) to make sure you get a dash of frothy milk rather than of regular milk.
May have got full on with the milk in the drawing, it was supposed to be just a little dash…whoops.

Espresso con Panna: Similar to a Macchiato, but with whipped cream (‘panna’ is italian for cream) instead of milk.

Breve: in Italian it means ‘short’ and is used to describe a milk-based espresso drink made adding steamed half-and-half mixture of milk and cream instead of milk.




Cappuccino:  aka ‘the morning glory’. It’s made with steamed foamed milk poured over a shot espresso finished by topping with foam and, if you’re lucky, a sprinkle of chocolate powder. It also comes in two versions, Dry or Scuro (in Italian it means dark) and Wet or Chiaro (it means light), the first prepared with less milk than usual and the second with more milk.

Flat White: Not an Italian name for once. Happy, huh? Steamed micro-foam milk poured through and under one shot of dense espresso.  It’s great for latte art, which makes it an Instagram favourite.

Caffè Latte: Usually simply called Latte, it consists of one-third espresso, two-thirds heated milk and a layer of foam. The word Latte by itself in Italian means milk, so in case of a future trip in Italy, remember to add the caffeine to your order if you don’t want to be served a nice glass of milk with a striped straw.



Americano: made diluting 1-2 shots of espresso with hot water, the strength varies with the number of shots and the amount of water added. The word is the Italian for American, it’s popular belief that the name originated as a cheeky joke made by Italians on Americans that would dilute espresso with hot water to approximate the coffee to which they were accustomed. Not to be confused with a Lungo (Italian for long), as a general rule an Americano is served in a cappuccino cup, while in a Lungo the amount of water is added within a regular espresso cup.

Caffe’ Freddo: It literally means cold coffee and that’s exactly what it is: chilled, sweetened espresso served in a tall glass, often with ice.

Corretto: It’s, once again, an Italian term and it means  “corrected”. A regular espresso is ‘corrected’ with a touch of grappa, cognac, sambuca, or some other spirit. No, this kind of drink is not acceptable for a family brunch, I’m sorry.



Latte Macchiato: Imagine it as an Espresso Macchiato, but backwards: steamed milk, usually served in a tall glass, that is “stained” by a shot of espresso.

Caffe Mocha: A glorious combination of chocolate syrup and a shot of espresso, topped with steamed milk and a layer of micro-foam (= super thick foam). To make it even more decadent it’s usually topped with sprinkled chocolate.

Affogato: Despite the creepy name (affogato literally means ‘drowned’), this drink is just pure bliss: take a scoop of ice cream -usually vanilla, but I highly recommend chocolate- and pour over a shot of hot dense espresso. It’s the kind of thing one wouldn’t mind drowning in, right? Or at least swimming in..