When walking into your local café, chances are you’re presented with countless types of coffee for your caffeine fix. Mochas, lattes, frappes, cappuccinos, americanos etc. We’ve all heard the names, and we all have a favorite. However, if someone asked you “What’s the difference between a mocha, latte, and frappe? What’s the difference between a cappuccino and a flat white?” would you be able to answer off the top of your head?
If you were able to answer those correctly, pat yourself on the back and consider becoming a barista. For the rest of us, we need a bit of a refresher course. Read on for a breakdown of the most popular drink options at your local caffeine fix.
SO WHAT ARE THE POPULAR TYPES OF COFFEE, AND WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM?
If you go to your local café, you’ll likely be presented with some or all of the following options:
- Flat White
Most people have a favorite, and they order the same thing over and over again. However, if you wanted to try something new, how would you know what to order? Let’s take a look what what the major differences are between these popular types of coffee.
First, let’s start with espresso. Although a straight shot of espresso isn’t the first choice for many people, it is an incredibly important part of the coffee community. This is because espresso serves as the foundation for many other drinks, such as cappuccinos and lattes.
Espresso is made by forcing a small amount of boiling water through very fine coffee grounds using a large amount of pressure. This results in a really thick, and highly concentrated form of coffee. Espresso is also much higher in caffeine content than typical drip coffee, but is usually served in much smaller amounts. You can expect your typical espresso drink to contain a similar amount of caffeine as a cup of black drip coffee.
Brewing espresso typically requires a specialty espresso machine, which can be manual or automatic in nature. Manual machines require the pulling of a lever to create the pressure inside the machine. This is why you might here the term “pulling a shot of espresso.” However, many people now opt for electric machines which use a pump to generate the pressure with the push of a button.
Lattes are quite simple drinks. They are made by pouring a shot or two of espresso into a cup of steamed milk, then adding a layer of foamed milk on top. They are typically served hot, but you can certainly find them iced as well. The milk is a great way of diluting the aggressive flavor of the espresso, making this a nice drink to sip on in any occasion. In recent years, latte art has exploded in popularity, in which baristas create artwork in the foam topping of lattes. Local coffee shops often add an artistic touch, and there’s even a Latte Art World Championship in which 1stplace will walk away with a cool $2,500. That’s some expensive espresso!
Cappuccinos are extremely similar to lattes. Both consist of espresso and milk, but the cappuccino has less milk and more milk foam creating a richer, more robust taste profile. This makes cappuccinos a great option for people who want a little extra flavor than a latte. They are very foamy in nature and are quite lightweight which can catch first-time drinkers by surprise.
Another uber-similar drink to the latte and cappuccino, flat whites are a mix of espresso, milk, and milk foam (sound familiar?). Flat whites typically use two shots of espresso, and less milk and foam than their latte and cappuccino counterparts, making them a smaller but more concentrated alternative. It’s important to note, that the difference between flat whites and their counterparts has become a bit blurred in recent years. When cappuccinos burst into the main stream, they often came with a ton of foam on top. This led some people to request a “flat” drink, meaning one without such a massive pile of foam on top. This resulted in the flat white as we know it. However, modern day cappuccinos and lattes have less foam than they used to, making them much more similar to flat whites.
Frappes are served iced, and exact recipes can vary wildly. There’s a never-ending number of concoctions that frappes can be crafted into, which makes them a popular starting point for trendy and holiday drinks. The typical mix involves placing ice, milk, sugar, coffee, and water in a blender and topping with whipped cream. The resulting drink is similar to a milk shake in flavor and texture, coupled with a nice kick from the coffee. By adding extra spices, juices, or other flavor additions, you can create a wide-ranging menu of frappes to satisfy anyone’s taste buds.
Americanos are another espresso-based drink, and arguably one of the easiest types of coffee to make. Simply add a shot or two of espresso to a cup of water and enjoy! You might think that the water creates a diluted, flavorless drink but you would be mistaken. The result is a deliciously rich drink that is similar to a cup of drip coffee, but with a bit more intense of a flavor profile.
Mochas are similar to lattes, except they contain a hint of chocolate. The name Mocha comes from the type of coffee beans typically used in these brews. Mocha coffee beans originate in Yemen, and are named after the Al Mokha port that they used to be exported from. Over the years, these beans became better known as Arabica (which is what we call them today) and the term Mocha began referring to the marriage between coffee and chocolate.
To brew a mocha, follow the same steps as a latte, but add some chocolate to the mix as well. This can be in the form of hot chocolate, chocolate powder, or even a pump of chocolate syrup. If you’re looking for an even easier way to whip one of these up, check out our Wild Tribe Moka mix which blends with just milk and ice to create a delicious iced mocha.
It seems nowadays that coffee shops offer an endless number of choices. With so many types of coffee on the menu, choosing a new item to try can become a daunting task. However, now that you’re armed with this new arsenal of knowledge, we know you’ll pick your next drink with the confidence of someone who just downed two shots of espresso. Whether you’re looking for a strong hot drink such as an Americano, or a delicious iced frappe, you’ll look like an aficionado the next time you swing by your favorite café.