Have you ever been in a coffee shop and felt confused? If so, here is a simple coffee dictionary with various types of coffee explained. It does not contain every type of coffee but this should cover the basics. The coffees are listed in order of strength. However, the mocha and latte are relatively interchangeable.

#SpoonTip: Depending on the size of a cup of coffee, certain elements differ.


espresso shot

Brian Legate on Flickr

An espresso is very strong, and often, espresso shots are used in the other coffee drinks. The more espresso a coffee drink contains, the stronger it will taste.

If you are to order an espresso by itself, you will receive a tiny cup with dark-looking coffee inside. They call it a “shot of espresso” because it is actually the size of a single shot. Espresso will definitely wake you up. If you are simply looking for a quick energy boost, drink espresso.


Americano 2

Lara604 on Flickr

Americanos are the most similar to an espresso. They will contain between one and four shots of espresso, depending on the size you order. It is a style of coffee prepared by brewing espresso with added hot water. It is not quite as strong as an espresso and is not a sweet drink.


Caffe macchiato, Istria

Salim Virji on Flickr

A macchiato is an espresso coffee drink with a small amount of foamed milk on the top. Macchiatos are commonly accompanied by flavor shots, too. Macchiatos can be very sweet, but they can also be strong in taste.



matsuyuki on Flickr

A cappuccino is not exceedingly strong. It is actually quite similar to the latte, but it holds less milk. A cappuccino usually contains two espresso shots, steamed milk, and foamed milk on top. Often, cinnamon is sprinkled on top. Cappuccinos tend to be enjoyed in the mornings and have a strong coffee flavor.


Nice mocha

KathrynW1 on Flickr

When you see “mocha,” think chocolate. A mocha is a very sugary coffee drink. It contains around two shots of espresso, steamed milk, chocolate syrup (or milk), and whipped cream on top.

Depending on the amount of milk and chocolate, a mocha will vary in strength. Additionally, mochas tend to be sweet, and they are very caloric. If you see “white mocha,” it is made with white chocolate as opposed to dark/milk chocolate.


Elysian, Latte

kennymatic on Flickr

A latte is a very milk-heavy drink. The coffee taste is masked by the milk, so lattes are not incredibly strong. A latte will ordinarily contain two shots of espresso, steamed milk, and foam on the top. Additionally, a latte is a great coffee drink to enjoy with a flavor shot like vanilla or hazelnut. Lattes tend to be sweet, but they are not as sweet as mochas.  

Clearly, there are many different types of coffee. While this may not define every single type of coffee a café has to offer, it should serve as a good starting point. Hopefully you will now feel more confident with your next coffee order.