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Coffee Dates Jargon: What to Order on a Coffee Date Like a Pro

Let’s agree that a Coffee Date is a man’s thing. I mean, if the man is not in control of the coffee ordering process then as a good neighbor, you might as well advise him to postpone the date and read this piece, just to avoid the embarrassment that comes with the jargon used in coffee houses.
After all, true love waits. We have been living with the agony of doctors brutally confusing us with their medical jargon and bad handwriting to immortalize their profession; until some clever coffee guys decided it was payback time and they retaliated by making coffee names sound medicinal.
So our guy who did not take the good neighbor’s advice walks late into the coffee date. With one gangstar point down, his apology is accepted and the waitress swiftly arrives to take their order. Our guy looks at the elaborate menu and the only thing he can identify clearly on the menu is Black Forest cake — because he once bought it for his ex-girl’s birthday and what transpired next is a story for another day.
To save another gangstar point, our guy decides to push aside the menu and act like he knows these things. “I will have a cup of EXPRESSO.” He says, feeling pseudo-sophisticated. The waitress familiar with that kind of scenario asks “are you sure sir?” our guy feeling important, wants to shout YES, but realizes he is already deprived of points and calmly but annoyingly dismisses the waitress with a softer Yes. Since man is to error and woman is to rectify, our guy’s date with some coffee knowledge saves the day and convinces him to take Americano instead.
You see, coffee house waiters and waitresses use a patron’s pronunciation of ESPRESSO (Not EXPRESSO) as the Richter scale for measuring your knowledge of coffee drinks. That is why you become a pain in their behind when you keep insisting on EXPRESSO and when it is served, you want to add ten spoons of sugar to make it taste, only to make it even worse.
I reckon that if you cannot explain something simply, it means you don’t understand it well enough. So for those who followed their good neighbor’s advice, here is a simplified explanation of the basic espresso based drinks in the cafes and how they are made.

Espresso shot

Well, this is where it all begins. An espresso shot is a concentrate that serves as the base of all the espresso based drinks. As the name suggests, it is served in shots; yes, just like whisky or tequila shots. When you order espresso, the waiter will ask you if you want a single shot or a double shot.
The difference is simply in the quantity. For instance, a standard single shot is made of 30ml of extracted espresso drink whereas a standard double shot is made of 60ml of extracted espresso drink. I would not advice a first time coffee drinker to order an espresso. It never goes down well with first timers since most find it way too bitter. Again, as I mentioned earlier, no amount of sugar will make an espresso sweet. To the coffee pros, this is usually the perfect cup that one gets hooked to.
Espresso shots


This is the perfect drink for a beginner who is interested in taking black coffee (coffee without milk). It is simply brewed by an espresso topped up with hot water. It is stronger than traditional black house coffee and will probably require some kind of sweetener for a beginner.

Café Latte

Latte is made from about one third espresso as the base, about two thirds of steamed milk and a thin layer of frothed milk form at the top. Baristas usually pour the coffee in a manner that will create some artistic patterns on the form. For a first timer who wants to feel sophisticated and doesn’t have a sour resistant mouth pallet, this is the cup for you. And yes, you can add sugar to taste.
Cafe Latte


Just like Latte, cappuccino is also made of espresso, steamed milk and milk froth. The only difference is the ratio used. In cappuccino, the ratio of espresso and milk is equal i.e. one third each. The froth foam is also thicker in cappuccino. A typical cappuccino drinker will not add sugar to it, but there is no harm in adding sugar to taste. Baristas also love doing their artistic tricks on cappuccino cups.
Cappuccino with Barista arts

Café Mocha (Mochaccino)

This consists of a blend of espresso as the base, hot chocolate syrup, skimmed steamed milk and whipped cream. Different baristas will play with the ingredients to make their signature drinks, but the main distinct ingredient here is the chocolate. A very good drink for a beginner who is into chocolates (no gender insinuations here).

Café Macchiato

It is pronounced “makiato.” Don’t lose more Bonga points. It is made of an espresso base that is topped up with milk form and some caramel for flavor. It is usually considered an evening drink especially for parties. For the coffee pros, they can ask for a custom made macchiato from their baristas with additional ingredients.


This drink was popularized in Latin countries. It is made of a shot of espresso and steamed milk that is slightly cooler than that used in macchiato and is not frothed.

Flat White

This is more similar to a Cortado but it is more velvety and thicker. It is an espresso shot topped with micro milk forms that appear as bubbles on top of the cup making it have a glossy appearance. Stands out as a very good option for coffee beginners.
Flat white

Iced Coffee

This one should not go unmentioned. It is the type of coffee that you will order and your group of friends will think they had a raw deal in their order. The annoying ones will even ask to have a sip of it. As the name suggests, iced coffee is coffee that is served chilled by either brewing it cold of adding ice cubes in the coffee cup. For those who cannot do without coffee in this scorching sun, this is the drink for you.
Iced coffee

House Coffee

Finally, I will wind it up with the mention of a cup that everyone has been having even in the lowest form of coffee houses. This is the basic plain coffee that does not require the sophistication of the espresso extraction and preparation. In fact it is not classified as an espresso based drink. I just had to mention it for the purpose of making it known that there is an option outside espresso; (just in case you forget the jargon). There is definitely more to add on this list of coffee cups, but as they say, we have to begin somewhere. So no more fear of coffee houses. 
We hope our guy’s coffee date ended in marriage.

13 thoughts on “Coffee Dates Jargon: What to Order on a Coffee Date Like a Pro”

  1. Pingback: Can You Eat Cereal Without Milk? (Surprise! Surprise!)

  2. Well said dan, atleast you are helping a layman here improve their perspective and attitude towards coffee. You will be supprised on the information available out there.. close to none. So i advise everyone to come and find it here Kudos n stay caffeinated.

  3. Very informative, I was once a victim of my naivity on the Espresso coffee but what pricked me the most was the quantity rather than the bitterness blame the luhya in me. Big up the good writting

  4. This post is very INFORMATIVE. I have always avoided ordering coffeee in restaurants but from the explanation, I can now show off abit. I def know what to go for. Thanks for educating us.

  5. Pingback: How to Buy Coffee in Kenyan Supermarket Shelves – Agrofoodious

  6. Quite informative.
    I am not really a coffee guy. If I got to try something new, I do it alone. This way, I can embarrass myself without fear; then I can advice beginners properly later… Cappuccino became my mainstay though….

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