Bean Meaning To Ask: Confusing UK Coffee Menus Explained

Since the arrival of huge coffee chains in the UK over a decade ago, the popularity of coffee to go has soared and our high streets are lined with coffee franchises and independent coffee shops. Although its prevalence is undeniable, there are still a huge number of people who remain unconfident when it comes to ordering a coffee. It’s clear to see why confusion creeps in with the amount of espresso-based drinks now on offer. Hopefully this article will assist the coffee shop frequenter who serially opts for a latte, for no other reason than it’s the name they are most familiar with.


Not for the faint hearted, ristretto is a short shot of highly concentrated espresso coffee. Very strong, a ristretto is a 0.5 – 0.75 fl oz serving, it is the purest form of espresso coffee, offering intensive flavour and rich body.

Espresso – pronounced ess-press-oh

Espresso is the base of all speciality coffee drinks. Brewed by forcing very hot water through freshly ground coffee beans, a method commonly known as extraction. Espresso is a small but potent shot of coffee, packed with intense flavour and aroma, the perfect shot of espresso is crowned with a rich caramel coloured layer of crema. Espresso packs a punch therefore liking the taste of coffee is essential.

Doppio Espresso

Doppio is the Italian word for double; this is simply a double espresso.

Espresso Macchiato – pronounced ess-press-oh mack-e-ah-toe

A shot of espresso topped with a dollop of foamed milk. Macchiato means ‘marked’ or ‘stained’ in Italian therefore this drink is espresso stained with milk. The milk froth counteracts the intensity of the espresso.

Espresso Con Panna

A shot of espresso topped with a dollop of whipped cream. The cream adds a touch of sweetness to the rich shot of espresso.


In layman’s terms, an Americano is just a black coffee. Espresso infused with hot water to create a long black coffee.

Red Eye

This is a drink for the true coffee lover. A shot of espresso topped with an Americano, it does exactly what it says in the title, provides the ultimate caffeine hit. Perfect those mornings when you need an extra little kick-start.

Flat White

Increasing in popularity in the UK, the flat white is a speciality espresso-based drink minus the fuss. A shot of espresso topped up with hot steamed milk, no froth, no foam, and no fuss, just a plain and simple good old white coffee.

Caffe Latte

A long milky drink with a hint of espresso, a caffe latte contains 1/3 espresso to 2/3 steamed milk and is usually topped with a thin layer of milk froth. A very approachable drink, the perfect introduction to the world of espresso for a non-coffee drinker.

Café au Lait

This is the French version of a latte, usually half and half, 50% coffee to 50% milk with no foam. Typically served in a large bowl style cup, café au lait doesn’t usually feature espresso; it is made with drip coffee and is therefore often referred to as the poor man’s latte.


The undeniable classic of the espresso world, the perfect cappuccino should be 1/3 espresso 1/3 of steamed milk and 1/3 of milk foam. Perfectly balanced and well rounded, the espresso is softened by the hot steamed milk and velvety smooth and sweet milk foam.


Seen as the entry-level drink into the world of espresso, a Mochaccino comprises espresso, hot chocolate, steamed milk and milk foam. A great introductory drink for non-coffee drinkers, the sweetness of the chocolate and copious amounts of steamed milk softens the blow of the espresso.

Café Mocha

Similar to a Mochaccino, yet the hot chocolate is replaced with chocolate syrup. This drink is perfect for a sweet-toothed non-coffee drinker branching out into espresso. A café mocha typically contains a small quantity of espresso with chocolate syrup, hot steamed milk and milk foam to create a long sweet beverage; a gateway into the espresso world.


A Frappe is a blended iced coffee, usually flavoured and typically served topped with whipped cream. Provides a fantastic alternative to hot coffee drinks through summer and great to enjoy on the go.

Skinny Drinks

Many coffee shops offer skinny variations of milk drinks. This just means that the usual whole or semi-skimmed milk used to make the drink is replaced with skimmed, therefore reducing calorific and fat content. If you’d prefer a lower fat drink, simply place the word ‘skinny’ in front of your drink selection when ordering, skinny latte, skinny cappuccino, skinny latte macchiato for example.

Extra Shot

This is a frequent sight on coffee house menus and refers to an extra espresso shot with any beverage. You may like your latte a little stronger, an extra shot presents the opportunity to add more espresso and achieve your desired coffee strength.


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