How to Order Coffee Like a Pro

Thank to Starbucks, sipping a tall latte has translated into style, coolness and status no matter where you are.
For most of us who grow up drinking coffee off packets, standing in front of a never ending coffee menu board seems like a daunting scenario. It just seems so not-cool to ask the barista what is that and risk getting the ‘duhh’ look.
So, how to order coffee like a pro (with style)?
First, get this right: Coffee≠espresso
Espresso is a type (or subset) of coffee brewed under super high pressure (9 bar, FYI) using an espresso machine which yield about 30 ml of extraction with 20g of coffee for a double shot.Basically, all coffees in any menu start with an espresso base.

If you are lactose intolerant/on diet/ simply do not like milk, go for black coffee:

Espresso – On its own, it is strong, flavourful, sharp and slightly acidic if extracted correctly.

Long black/Americano – Espresso with water. This is a diluted version of espresso with more volume, a good choice when you are catching up with friends over coffee (espresso needs to be consumed quickly while hot to enjoy the full flavour).

The difference between long black and Americano lies in sequence – in long black espresso is extracted straight into hot water; while Americano is made by adding hot water into espresso.

Ristretto – Espresso with half the extraction hence half the volume. Think half sized espresso. It is sweeter than standard espresso without the bitter end. Coffee connoisseurs claim a ristretto reveals the skilfulness of barista who prepares it. Statement to be verified (not a coffee connoisseur yet).

They say given good beans, good roaster, good machine and good barista, coffee is best enjoyed black to experience the flavour of origin. So if you are ordering coffee to impress, take this into consideration.

Quote to sound pro: Once you go black (coffee), you never go back.

If you like milk and prefer milder coffee, choices are:

Caffe latte – Direct translation from Italian means coffee (espresso) with milk. This is the safest choice of milk coffee with moderate amount of foam — smooth and easy coffee.

Cappucino – Espresso with milk plus extra thick foam (about 1 cm). This is for those who like foamy and creamy coffee.

Flat white – Espresso with milk and very very little foam. It is created just to satisfy demand of people who do not like milk foam in coffee.

Piccolo latte –Basically a mini latte, where there is same amount of espresso but lesser milk. If you like stronger coffee but not espresso, this is awesome!

Macchiato – Means ‘stained’ in Italian. Espresso with a dollop of milk foam (white stain). The sweetness in milk foam cut through the acidity of espresso and make an espresso slightly smoother and easier to drink.

Caramel Macchiato – Pure invention by Starbucks. More detail explanation on the myth of macchiato here.

Caffe Con Panna – Espresso topped with whipped cream. Rich and luscious.

Café Mocha – Espresso with milk and chocolate powder or chocolate sauce. Coffee + Chocolate = Best of both world.

If you are sweet tooth and have no diet concern

Feel free to explore addition of syrup flavouring, chocolate chips or candy in your coffee. Here you have the freedom to get creative with your coffee concoction.

If it is a hot day

Add ice to your coffee or blend your coffee with ice.

If you are a coffee addict or couldn’t get out of sleepy mode

Go for extra espresso shot for your caffeine boost.

If you can’t consume caffeine (too bad)

Order any drinks in the menu, but ask the barista to use decaf coffee beans.

If you still think you do not know how to order coffee with style, read from top again.

Recap — Basically, first, decide if you want black or milk coffee, decide the volume/strength of coffee (amount of water/milk added to espresso), decide the sweetness (addition of syrup/sugar/chocolate), decide if you need extra shot or decaf; and depending on your mood and weather, decide if you want to get hot or cool down.


At the end of the day, we consume coffee for the beauty of moment that it brings, for the connections that it builds, and the goodness that it creates. Just appreciate the cuppa and explore!

Don’t know how to order coffee? Just pick one and pay. Easy.

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