I’ve been a barista at a European-style coffee shop for almost two years now. Since I’ve started, there have been many customers who look at our large and foreign menu and don’t know how to decipher it. It’s easy to get lost in a list of European names for drinks, so I thought I’d make a short cheat sheet for anyone feeling the same way.

An espresso is a very strong coffee made by forcing hot water or steam through ground coffee beans.

A latte literally translates in Italian to “milk.” It’s espresso with textured milk and some foam.

A cappuccino is similar, but has a lot more foam than a latte. It’ll taste stronger.

An Americano is just espresso with hot water added.

A cortado is an equal ratio of espresso to steamed milk; it’s usually a small drink.

A ristretto is a more concentrated espresso shot. It’s made with less water and comes out tasting smoother and less bitter.

A flat white is made with ristretto shots and steamed milk, with very little foam.

A macchiato literally translates to “marked” in Italian. So, this can be a latte macchiato (milk “marked” with espresso) or an espresso macchiato (espresso “marked” with foam).

With this baseline barista knowledge, you’re now ready to discover your new favorite drink with confidence!