You enter a fancy cafe, have a quick look at the blackboard.
But you feel like you’re reading a menu in russian… (Or chinese, if you’re Russian!)
Such strange words floating here, like V60, Chemex, Cold drip, Cold brew, Magic…
And you have actually no idea of what half of those terms mean.
Especially here in Australia, it can be really confusing as the choice of coffee drinks is almost overwhelming.
Let me explain to you, in a quick way, the fundamental differences in these brews.
If you love coffee and travel around Australia you should definitively know this.
You don’t want to miss out amazing things during your stay!
But wherever you are, these are coffees you can find as well in any country with a strong coffee culture.
Fast extraction coffee drinks : Espresso based
BLACK – WHITE
If you see only BLACK, WHITE with the price written on a coffee menu, that simply means you can order any BLACK coffee, or any WHITE coffee.
I wasn’t acquainted with this at first, but the meaning is simple :
Black for black coffee, only coffee: ground coffee beans brewed in hot water.
White for white coffee: any coffee cup containing milk inside.
In the list below are the main black or white coffee you can order here in Australia, and I assume in most of countries in the world.
Although the appellation may differ according to the country you’re in.
Short black ・ Espresso
The basic building rock for almost every coffee you order: a single shot of espresso.
You can also ask for a double espresso or strong espresso if you want a double shot of espresso in your cup.
Or ask for a weak espresso, you’ll have about a half espresso shot.
Long Black ・Americano ・Lungo
Three names (and maybe more!) for the same simple thing:
A double espresso diluted with hot water.
Ristretto means “restricted” in italian.
It is a short shot of espresso: we use the same amount of ground coffee but extract it for a significantly shorter amount of time than the traditional espresso.
This results in a bolder coffee, with more sweetness and less bitterness
Latte ・ Cafe au lait
A shot of espresso with steamed milk.
Generally served in a glass.
Be careful, don’t ask for a Latte in Italy, you’re going to find yourself with a glass of milk! For a simple reason, Latte is the italian word for milk.
(only in Australia and New-Zealand)
Pretty much the same thing than a Latte, served in a cup.
Except that the foam milk amount is lower compared to a Latte.
Back in the days, a Flat white was only a milky coffee in a cup with no foam whatsoever!
A latte with more foam, and chocolate sparkled on the top.
It seems like some countries don’t use chocolate, and don’t even texture the milk differently from a latte. (In that case, why call it a
In Italy, it is common to use cream instead of milk.
Mocha ・ Mocaccino
A chocolate-flavored coffee.
Roughly, it’s like a latte with chocolate (cocoa powder or chocolate syrup) mixed in.
This is basically a stronger and smaller Latte.
It’s a single shot of espresso served in an espresso cup,
top up with milk.
Macchiato ・Short Macchiato
Traditionally, it’s a shot of espresso with just a dash of textured milk.
Some cafes top up the espresso cup with milk and foam, some only put a spoon of foam onto the espresso.
Long Macchiato experience also many varieties depending on the barista preparing it.
In the Italian and traditional way, it’s a double shot of espresso with a dash of textured milk.
For some, it’s a long black (double shot + hot water) with a dash of milk.
(only in Melbourne, Australia)
Very unique to Melbourne, a Magic is a double ristretto with steamed milk.
The amount of milk should be lower than for a latte, so if the cafe use a Latte glass this one would be only three quarters full.
Slow extraction coffee drinks
Or, should I say, alternative brewing! Or Third wave coffee~
It is common to use these new appellations to talk about coffee brewed in a slow way, but we could actually say these methods are the most basic ways to make coffee.
Espresso machines and the use of high pressure to create concentrated coffee are a pretty recent invention. The first espresso machine is born in 1884 in Italy, but coffee has been drinking around the world for about six centuries!
There are so many ways to brew coffee and get out the sweet, aromatic flavour from the beans.
Since the extraction is slow, it won’t be as strong and bitter that can be an espresso.
Maybe you use a filter machine at home to have fresh brewed coffee in the morning? This is one of the many slow extraction methods existing.
1. “Drip coffee” ・ “Pour over” ・ “Filter coffee”
Any coffee beans slowly extracted using a dripper with filter is called Drip coffee, Pour over or Filter coffee.
They all mean the same thing : you pour over hot water onto your coffee beans in the dripper, and it drips gently through the filter.
Many different devices exist, and some manufacturers have gained reputation in the last few years.
This is why sometimes, when you see the menu you will find written the name of the dripper used, like “V60”, instead of a simple “pour over”, or “filter”.
You may wonder why, why so many brands? What is the difference?
The different technology in the cone shape, and the material used, allow the water to go through the filter at a different speed, more or less uniformly, and have a significant impact on how flavours are extracted from the ground coffee.
Here are some of the most famous and used drippers :
V60 – from HARIO
The most popular dripper, a cone shape with a large hole at the bottom.
Some stripes are designed in the cone, and this shape helps the hot water to run toward the center hole to enhance the dripping.
Unlike the flat bed dripper used commonly, it won’t allow hot water to stay for too long at the bottom, and make it easy for you to control the brew.
Less control, and more stabilty in this model.
The Kalita Wave has a flat bed with three little holes at the bottom; this shape allows for an even and stable extraction.
It is designed so that the coffee dwells longer in the water, to reveal the full-bodied, deep complexity of the coffee.
The iconic and elegant shape of Chemex, as well as the clean taste it delivers made it a champion of pour overs.
The cone shape with its specially designed paper filter helps to extract a coffee free of sediments and bitterness.
Kinto comes with a stainless filter instead of a paper filter.
The reusable steel filter is not only economic and environmental friendly, but it allows more oils to remain in the finished coffee. Resulting in a richer and more intense flavour.
2. French press / Plunger / Cafeteria / Press pot
Contrarily to the pour over method, with a french press the ground beans are entirely stepped in the water for a certain amount of time.
They yield a fuller flavour, because the oils have not been filtered out.
We place the coffee grounds in the bottom of the container, steeping them with hot water, and then pressing down on the plunger slowly.
The plunger catches the grounds of coffee so that they do not end up in the cup.
3. Moka pot
The moka pot is often referred as a stovetop espresso maker.
It works out of steam pressure: the boiling water is pressurised by steam through the ground coffee.
There is less pressure than in an espresso machine, but the brew result will be comparatively thick, rich and strong.
This device was invented recently, in 2005, and has an interesting and unique way to extract the coffee:
It uses air pressure, forcing the water through the beans by pushing the plunger down.
The brew made with an Aeropress is well balanced, with a good body (I would say a bit fuller than a drip coffee, but less than a Moka pot!) and very clear flavours.
It’s the favorite brewer of many coffee lovers!
5. Siphon / Syphon / Vacuum coffee
Beautiful and mesmerising, siphon coffee makers are gaining popularity and place in the trendy cafes.
The coffee’s aroma becomes trapped inside the globe mechanism which influences flavour and produces a clean, crisp, vibrant coffee.
They also belong to the full immersion brewing method, but their system is one of the most elaborate:
The siphon coffee maker has two chambers. Water is heated in the bottom one, and vapor pressure forces the water to rise into the top chamber where it mixes with coffee grounds. When the heat is turned off, the water goes back into the lower chamber through a filter.
6. Cold brew
The slowest coffee extraction method (along with cold drip) using cold water instead of hot water.
Coffee is immersed in water for 12 to 24 hours, the time for the coffee beans to let out their aromas.
The cold brewing process will actually change the nature of the extracted flavours:
Acidity and bitterness are reduced, and we notice a remarkable enhancement of the flavours. This is definitively my favourite coffee!
Good to know: Because no hot water is used, it contains less acidity, making it also a healthier coffee.
7. Cold drip
Instead of immersing the beans fully in water like in the cold brew, here, water is dripped slowly onto the ground coffee. The water makes its way through the coffee and falls through a filter into a carafe below.
The process can be quicker than cold brew depending on the quantity of beans used, but it’s generally from 3 to 8 hours.
Flavor-wise, drip cold brew coffee tends to be a bit lighter and brighter than immersion cold brew coffee.
8. Batch brew
A batch brew is simply a drip coffee, poured automatically by a machine, instead of being poured manually.
The picture shows a Moccamaster, one of the most precise and popular batch brew machine used in busy cafes.
There are many other methods existing (such asTurkish coffee, Vietnamese coffee…) and surely many other devices. I limited this list to the main methods and brews you may encounter on a menu of the recent specialty coffee shops.
But if you think I missed something important, or if you think something is incorrect, please leave a comment I would love to hear from you!
I hope this little guide helped you to understand better the various terms of coffee!
Taste them all 😀