Coffee is confusing, and coffee names are just there to make it worse. Some have Italian names, one is named after the robes of ancient monks, and one is named after a port in Yemen.

As a self-proclaimed, future-coffee-shop-owner, I need more people to drink coffee, and I’m a firm believer that the confusing names are acting as a deterrent.

So, here’s a dictionary (and pictures of my favorite Nashville coffee shops) to make things easier.  

Espresso (ess-PRESS-oh)

Shorthand tip: lots of espresso

It's made by shooting pressurized hot water through ground coffee beans, which means it has a stronger flavor than regular coffee and more caffeine by volume. It’s the base of most drinks you’ll find in a coffee shop, so make sure you know this one (and how to pronounce it). Once you know it, all you need to remember is the ratio of espresso to milk to foam for each drink.

*Some people drink espresso in straight shots. If you're one of those people, you probably like coffee more than I do and can stop reading here. Thank you for your time. 

Cappuccino (ka-puh-CHEE-no)

Shorthand tip: lots of foam

This one is equal parts espresso, milk, and foam. It's probably the most common and the most Instagram-worthy, since it's the base of latte art (despite the name). Basically, just remember the 1:1:1 ratio. Hooray for sixth-grade math!

Latte (LAH-tay)

Shorthand tip: lots of steamed milk 

It's bigger and weaker than a cappuccino because it has more milk. It's a shot of espresso, lots of steamed milk, and a dash of foam. If that's not weak enough, you can add more sugar in the form of syrups (think: vanilla, caramel, and whatever is the new invention on the Starbucks menu). 

Americano (ah-meh-ree-CAH-no)

Shorthand tip: lots of water

It’s a watered down espresso that was made to imitate the consistency of drip coffee. Italians will probably laugh at you for drinking it, but you do you. 

Macchiato (mah-kee-AH-toe)

Shorthand tip: lots of coffee, "stained" with milk 

Macchiato means "stained," "marked," or "spotted" in Italian, so it's an espresso stained with a splash of foam. Basically, this is what you get when you really like coffee, but aren’t strong enough to take it black (see above; stop reading if you drink espresso shots). 

Mocha (MOH-kuh)

Shorthand tip: lots of chocolate 

An upgraded latte or cappuccino. It's sweeter than just adding sugar and it arguably brings all the health benefits of chocolate (but probably not). 

White Mocha (WHY-t MOH-kuh)

Shorthand tip: lots of white chocolate

See above and spot the difference. It's the same as a mocha, but white chocolate doesn't actually contain any cocoa. It's honestly just butter and sugar but sounds healthier than it is. From now on, we'll just call it dessert in a cup.

Flat White (FLAH-t WHY-t)

Shorthand tip: lots of micro-foam

This is a hard one to explain. It’s basically like a latte, but the type of steamed milk is different: it’s micro-foam, instead of froth. It’s bigger than a cappuccino, but smaller than a latte; it has more milk, but tastes more like coffee; and honestly, most people can't agree on what it is. Just order a latte.

Cuban (key-U-ban)

Shorthand tip: lots of sugar

It’s an espresso that is sweetened with sugar while it’s being brewed. The sugar is added directly to the mug before the espresso is poured in, so you don't have to do it yourself. Order it if you love sugar and hate stirring. 

Irish Coffee (I-ree-shh)

Shorthand tip: lots of whiskey

Just picture yourself pouring a flask into your coffee. Same concept. 

Black Coffee (BLAH-k)

Shorthand tip: coffee

I wanted to cover all my bases here, but if you really don't know this one, I don't know what to tell you. 

Iced Coffee (eyes-D)

Shorthand tip: coffee on the rocks

Honestly, this is another obvious one. I just liked this picture and needed an excuse to use it.

Cafe Au Lait (kah-FEH oh-LAY)

Shorthand tip: homemade latte

Coffee with milk. It's probably what you make at home. Unless you have an espresso machine, in which case you probably know more about coffee than I do, and can refer to the above list.

Chai Latte (ch-AY LAH-teh)

Shorthand tip: not coffee (it's spiced tea with milk)

Like a latte, but instead of espresso, it’s chai tea (which is basically black tea with aromatic spices). It's what you order when you want to look like you're drinking coffee but aren't. Honestly, it doesn't even deserve to be on this list, but I kept getting questions about it, so there you go.

Matcha Latte (mah-CHA LAH-teh)

Shorthand tip: green tea

Similar to a chai latte, but trendier and healthier. Matcha is regular green tea on steroids. It'll give you the caffeine boost you need, without the side effects of coffee. 

Disclaimer: you can overdose on caffeine, but it would take 100 cups of coffee for this to happen, so feel free to try this at home.