Let’s be honest you don’t have a clue what’s going on at Starbucks. Coffee is the great American pastime most of us pretend to understand while really we’re completely lost and have been since our dads forced us to swallow that first bitter drop of instant coffee.

Whether you got the short end of the stick and need to do the office coffee run every Monday or you just don’t want to look like a mumbling idiot on your next date when she orders a skim-decaff- americano-misto with her Starbucks Goldcard we thought you could benefit from a quick rundown.

Coffee Vs. Espresso

The truth is in terms of the actual bean they are the exact same, espresso is simply a different way of brewing coffee i.e. shooting almost boiling water under pressure through extremely finely ground coffee beans. If you see or hear talk of “espresso beans” that just means coffee beans that taste better when run through the medieval torture necessary to produce your bosses double long to-go.


Hipsters and twenty-something college students typically determine which roast is most popular. During recent years dark roast coffee was all the rage because it was a more true tasting coffee, (wrong), and has more caffeine, (also wrong), which just goes to show how systemic this whole not knowing anything about anything seems to be.

Truth be told a light roast coffee has its specific acidity profile more in tact, that is the specific flavours that bean has because of where and how it was grown. It also has more caffeine. As you roast a bean darker you burn off both, rendering the bean oily, black and having a pretty uniform full-bodied flavour regardless of where it is from.


The whole ordeal may have been avoided if some guy in Italy had not thought of heating up milk and adding it to his espresso. From that first latte spurred menus and customizations that could probably serve as quality content for an entire major in coffee mixology, which may actually be a thing at UC Davis*. Forgoing the fabled Starbucks secret menu (this is a men’s hygiene site) here is a quick cheat sheet:

Latte one or two shots of espresso topped by steamed milk
Cappachino one or two shots of espresso topped by frothed (air infused) milk foam, smaller cup.
Americano Espresso diluted with hot water
Americano Misto Americano topped with a small amount of foam
Macchiato double espresso topped with a small amount of foam
Cortado same thing just less foam
Flat White a smaller proportion latte
Red Eye Coffee with a shot of espresso



A Copy
Dylan Freeman-Grist