Espresso drinks are an art form for many a barista, but there are many other coffee drinks and other drinks to try at your local coffeehouse. From Italian soda to microlot coffee, this guide will help you navigate your coffeeshop menu beyond espresso-based drinks.
See also: Coffee Ordering Terms
A strong, hot drink that's similar to apple juice, but with cinnamon and other spices. Sometimes, it's served with caramel or whipped cream. It is usually on coffeehouse menus seasonally.
A combination of different single origin coffees selected to achieve a consistent balance of flavor, aroma, and body. House blends are a popular type of blend on coffeehouse menus. They vary from coffeehouse to coffeehouse, and are usually geared toward the tastes of the shop's proprietor(s) or the shop's target customers or regulars.
In most coffeehouses, chai is a spiced, milky black tea blend made from concentrated syrup, but sometimes it is made with teabags or loose-leaf tea. You can usually order it dairy alternatives and sometimes you can order it caffeine-free (if they have a spice-only or spiced rooibos blend). It may come in special flavors, like vanilla, raspberry or chocolate, or it may be topped with foam, whipped cream or shaved chocolate.
Iced chai is popular in the summer. It can be made with ice cubes or blended until smooth.
Coffee with most (not all) of its caffeine removed. Standards require that 97% of the original caffeine be removed, but the actual caffeine content in decaffeinated drinks is a controversial topic. Caffeine may be removed with water processing (called the "Swiss water process") or with chemical applications.
Coffee brewed by dripping hot water through ground coffee in a filter basket and into a pot or cup. Although drip coffee is best known as a home brew, it is also popular in coffeehouses.
Recipes for egg creams vary, and many New York businesses claim to have "the best" egg cream in the city. It is usually a blend of a flavored powder or syrup (usually chocolate, but sometimes vanilla or strawberry) with milk and soda water. (If you want to learn more, check out this video recipe for chocolate egg cream.)
Coffee with added flavor. It can be made with flavored beans or with flavor added in the form of a syrup or powder. Popular flavors include chocolate/mocha, vanilla, Irish creme, caramel, cinnamon, almond, hazelnut and pecan.
Coffee brewed in a plunger-style pot. It may be single serving or up to eight cups. It uses a coarser grind than drip coffee, is higher in caffeine than espresso and is the preferred choice of many serious coffee drinkers.
A blend of steamed or hot milk (or, sometimes, soymilk or rice milk upon request) with chocolate powder or syrup. It may be topped with whipped cream, marshmallows, cinnamon or other toppings. Some places offer Mexican Hot Chocolate, which is a spicier version of regular hot cocoa. It typically has red chili pepper and other spiced blended in or on top.
Iced coffee is a cold version of a hot favorite. Purists make it with cold-brewed coffee, but some coffeehouses make by pouring hot coffee over ice. Sometimes, espresso drinks prepared with cold milk and then iced will also be called "iced coffees." Iced coffee may be flavored, sweetened and/or topped. Occasionally, coffeehouses will use coffee ice cubes in their iced coffee drinks.
Two ounces of flavored syrup in iced soda water. The flavor shot is sometimes poured over the top of the soda and left to sink down into the drink for an appealing look. Popular flavors include cherry, lime, peach, raspberry, strawberry, pineapple, vanilla and chocolate. If two ounces of half-and-half are added, it's a French Soda. Top a French Soda with whipped cream, and it becomes a Cremosa or Italian Cream Soda.
Popular types include orange, apple, pineapple, grape, carrot and grapefruit. They may be in single-serving bottles or poured from a larger container.
A relatively small, discrete amount of coffee that has been especially selected from within a farm or cooperative for its quality, kept intentionally separate throughout the chain of milling and import, and sold separately.
Single Origin Coffee
Coffee from a single, distinct place, usually a single farm, a single village or a farmer's cooperative. Single origin coffee is the opposite of blended coffee. Tasting single origin coffee is a great way to see how terrior impacts coffee.
Smoothies are usually a mixture of some kind of dairy (such as ice cream, milk or yogurt) or a milk alternative (like soymilk) with fruit (either fresh or as a fruit concentrate). Common fruit flavors include banana, strawberry, mango, peach and mixed berry.
Smoothies are occasionally topped with whipped cream or flavored syrup. Sometimes, coffeehouses will replace fruit with coffee or espresso and add extra flavors, like candy bars or flavored syrups. Tea smoothies are also fairly common.
One ounce of flavored syrup in foamed or steamed milk. Popular flavors include mixed vanilla, mint, chocolate, Irish creme, almond, hazelnut, apple, ginger, pumpkin, berries and caramel. Steamers are usually topped with a little foam or with whipped cream.
True teas (like green or black teas) are caffeine-containing infusions from the leaves of a particular type of camellia plant, but most coffeehouse tea menus include "herbal teas," which come from other plants and are usually caffeine free. Herbal teas (also called "tisanes" or "herbal infusions") are things like mint, chamomile, rooibos and ginger.
Some shops offer iced versions of the teas on the menu or specific iced teas that are pre-brewed each day.
Teas can also be made into tea lattes, like this green tea latte. These are typically lower in caffeine than traditional lattes.
An herb from South America that is often brewed like a tea. It's high in caffeine and antioxidants, and has a bittersweet, earthy, woody taste. It can be made into yerba mate lattes.
This article was written with input from Peter Giuliano, co-owner and director of coffee at Counter Culture Coffee.