Chances are, you’ve walked into a coffee shop before and were totally overwhelmed. I think that coffee shops specialize in having difficult menus-who the heck knows the difference between an Americano or a macchiato if you haven’t been drinking them regularly? It can be hard to know exactly what you’d want or like without asking a ton of questions.

So, to help you ace that coffee order, here’s the guide to great coffee shop ordering.


If you want something stronger than your regular cup of coffee, try espresso; it’s made by forcing hot water through extremely fine ground coffee beans. One ounce has about 75 mgs of caffeine, which is a lot more concentrated than your typical cup of coffee.

PC: Smithsonian


If you like your normal black coffee but want a bit of a kick, order a red eye; it’s black coffee with a shot of espresso in it. If you really want to get your caffeine in, order a black eye. It’s the same thing, but with two shots of espresso.


If you want a little bit less caffeine, an Americano is hot water with a shot or more of espresso. 


Strong and sweet, a macchiato is a shot of espresso with some frothed milk added.

Caramel Macchiato. PC: Starbucks


Very similar to a macchiato in makeup, a latte is espresso topped with steamed milk. There will typically be frothed milk on top.


At more established coffee shops, this will be a perfect blend of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. However, you’ll typically find it to be more like a latte than anything.


Although this differs from shop to shop, mochas are typically a blend of chocolate and espresso, sometimes with added milk.


Also called a chai latte or a chai tea latte, chai is a blend of milk, spices, and black tea. Ask for a dirty or voodoo chai, and you’ll be given a chai latte with a shot of espresso in it for an extra kick.

PC: Healthy Homestead


Half coffee, half steamed milk.


And of course, no coffee shop ordering guide would be complete without talking about how to order black coffee! Coffee is different based on roasting; the longer a bean is roasted, the different the flavors are that develop. If you’re looking for light roast, look for the cinnamon or New England roast labels. Medium roasts are typically labeled as regular or American roasts. Dark roasts (my personal favorite) are commonly called French, Italian, or espresso roasts. You can always ask your barista as well; some coffee shops label by bean origin instead of roast.

Happy coffee drinking!

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