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Coffee Beverages Explained

  • 3 min read

We’ve all got that go-to coffee. The one we always order every time we visit a coffee shop. A coffee order is a deeply personal thing and often, once you know what you like, you’ll return to that same order over and over. 

It used to be that you’d visit a coffee shop and see a small number of options on the menu board. Espresso, Americano, Latte and Cappuccino were the original building blocks of any good coffee menu. But over the years, as the appetite for third wave specialty coffee grew, so too did the demand for more specialised options. Many early third-wave specialty coffee shops in the UK were heavily influenced by coffee cultures in places like Australia, adopting drinks that focused more on flavour balance, allowing the espresso to shine in the cup.

Nowadays there’s a plethora of different coffee beverages available on menus across the globe, and even as we write this, we’re finding that there’s some we’ve never heard of. Gibraltar anyone?

In this blog we’ll take a look at some of these beverages and de-mystify what they really are.

Flat White 

The Flat White seems like the perfect place to start. Originally adopted from our friends in Australia & New Zealand, this beverage can now be found in pretty much every coffee shop across the UK. 

A Flat White is similar to a latte in texture, with slightly less foam, but offers a greater espresso to milk ratio, meaning you achieve better flavour balance. It is usually served in a 6oz cup meaning it is a lot stronger than its closest counterpart, the latte. 


Usually served in a glass, as opposed to a cup, the latte offers a silky smooth texture, with a greater milk to espresso ratio. Usually served in an 8oz cup,  the latte can taste a bit ‘milkier’, making it ideal for people who prefer their coffee a little less intense. 


A traditional Italian beverage, the Cappuccino is made up of equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foam. Served in a 6oz cup, the cappuccino is slightly smaller than the latte, so it tends to be less milky with more punch. The extra foam used in the preparation creates a velvety texture. 


Put simply, an Americano is just espresso and water. The water is used to dilute the espresso, making it less intense and highlight its sweetness and acidity. Generally speaking an Americano will usually be 1/3 espresso to 2/3 water and served in an 8-10oz cup. 

Long Black 

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding what a Long Black actually is, mostly in part due to the fact that every café seems to serve it slightly differently. As with many of the drinks on this list, the long black originated in Australia & New Zealand. Serve in a 6oz cup, the easiest way to look at it is, the Long Black is the flat white of black coffee. The main difference between that and an Americano is the espresso to water ratio. The Long Black has more espresso and less water, creating a full-bodied cup. 


While most beverages have their roots firmly placed in Italy, the same cannot be said for the cortado.  Originating in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, this beverage consists of equal parts espresso to textured milk. Think of it as a mini flat white, served in an 4.5oz glass, allowing great flavour balance between espresso and milk. 


The picollo is another Australian export and is pretty similar to the Cortado. The difference is that traditionally, the picollo is made using the Aussie favourite single ristretto, although in most specialty coffee shops you'll find that they use a standard single espresso. Textured milk is then added and the drink is served in a 3-4oz glass. 


Ok, so you got this far and still haven't found out what a gibraltar is, so let's take a look. The gibraltar name was first coined by Blue Bottle in San Francisco after they began serving their cortado in glassware from Libbey Glass Company which shared the same name. The name was then adopted by Ritual Coffee and other's as they began to use the same glassware. The drink itself is pretty much identical to a cortado with a 1:1 ratio of espresso and textured milk, served in a 4.5oz glass. 

So there you have it, a quick crash course in coffee beverages.

Before you get started in trying to recreate some of thsee drinks at home, don't forget the coffee.

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