Ordering coffee in a shop for the first time can be daunting for a beginner. Hearing the person in front of you ask for a “grande half-caf dry skinny cap, extra hot, with a shot of vanilla” (yes, that’s a real drink!) can induce anxiety–sometimes it seems like coffee shops operate using their own language. It helps to have a good idea of what kind of coffee drink you want ahead of time. Knowing some of the lingo helps, too.
Ordering Coffee: The Lingo
Some of the terms you’ll need to know when ordering coffee are:
- Barista: The person preparing drinks with coffee
- Dry cap: An espresso drink made with more frothed milk than steamed milk
- Wet cap: A coffee drink made with more steamed milk than frothed milk.
- Half-caf: A coffee drink made with half regular and half decaf espresso or coffee
- Shot: A 1-oz. serving of espresso
- Skinny: An indication that the coffee drink should be made with skim milk.
Coffee Ordering Tips
If you’re ordering an espresso drink, like a cappuccino or cafÃ© latte, know ahead of time how much espresso you want in your drink and don’t be afraid to ask the barista how much espresso goes into each size. Generally, 8-oz. coffee drinks have one shot of espresso, 12- to 16-oz. drinks have two shots and 20-oz. drinks have three shots. However, not every coffee shop follows these guidelines, so ask if you’re not sure.
Pay attention to the sizing system of the coffee cups. Most coffee shops use terminology other than “small,” “medium” and “large”–they may use words like “tall” or “grande” instead. Ask to physically see the sizes of the cups if you’re unsure.
Most drinks with coffee are available hot or iced. Be sure to specify if you want your drink iced–otherwise, most coffee shops will assume you want it hot.
If you just want a regular coffee, ask for drip coffee or house blend. However, if you want the best coffee possible, order an Americano (a shot of espresso that’s diluted with water). Americanos are always brewed fresh, as opposed to drip coffee, which can be left on the burner for hours.