Coffee House Coffee

Still confused when you request coffee house coffee? Don’t know the differences between espresso and Americano, latte and cappuccino? Here is our primer for coffee house coffee. It starts with the fact that all coffee in a coffee house starts with espresso. Hopefully they use healthy organic coffee in making their espresso but you probably have to ask for it.

Espresso is very concentrated coffee that retains a lot of dissolved as well as suspended solids from the roasted coffee bean. It is made by forcing steam (boiling water) through fine ground coffee. It has a thicker feel because of the suspended solids and foam because of the pressurized steam. Espresso concentrates the flavors of coffee and is served in a small cup, usually an ounce (30 cc). A cup of espresso typically has between 40 and 75 milligrams of caffeine while a standard cup of percolated coffee contains about twice this much but in an 8 ounce cup. Thus coffee house coffee espresso is about four times more concentrated than the cup of coffee that you had a home for breakfast. Because espresso contains more coffee per ounce also contains more organic coffee antioxidants if you insist on organic for your espresso.

But there are more varieties of coffee house coffee than just espresso and you may find yourself confused looking at the list on the back wall above the barista working at the espresso machine. Here are the derivatives of espresso that you can typically find at your local coffee house:

  • Americano
  • Breve
  • Cappucino
  • Latte
  • Mocha


Americano is a coffee house coffee made from espresso and diluted with water. This goes back to the World War II era and after when GI’s who were used to Mom’s home perked or boiled coffee asked the barista to add water to their espresso to make it less strong. Think “weak espresso.”

Breve and Latte

Both of these are made with espresso and foam. Latte is made with steamed milk and breve is made with half and half. For latte think “coffee with milk” or café au lait and for breve think “coffee with milk and cream.”


Cappuccino is made with espresso plus hot milk plus lots of steamed foam.


Mocha is for coffee and chocolate lovers. It is made with espresso plus chocolate syrup plus milk.

All coffee house coffee is made with espresso. If you want your espresso made with USDA organic coffee you probably have to ask for it. For those interested in strong flavor and aroma espresso is probably the ultimate. Likewise espresso and each other coffee house coffee made from espresso has a high concentration of the antioxidants that give coffee much of its flavor and many of its health benefits. But, if you want authentic organic coffee as the base for your espresso, cappuccino, or mocha make sure that you ask.

Hope that you are no longer confused about that list of coffee house coffee at the coffee shop. If you have not tried one or the other feel free to experiment, and enjoy.

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