Everything you ever need to know about ordering coffee

Jul 10 2020, 7:37 pm

So you’re new to the coffee scene and you quickly realize that there can be a lot more to ordering coffee than you imagined.

Americanos, Cortados, Flat Whites, Long Blacks, and Pour-overs, these are just a few of the phrases you may have heard being slung around your favourite coffee shop.

If you don’t know exactly what they mean, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

Rather than just pointing at the menu and saying, “I want that thing,” I’m here to give you the low-down on what some of this stuff means, along with tips on how to go about ordering coffee in general.

There are a thousand options and combinations out there in this big, bold coffee world, but for now, let’s get educated with these basics.

Try them out, impress your friends with your newfound coffee knowledge, and stay caffeinated, friends!


Let’s start off easy. There are two main family groups to keep in mind when ordering coffee.

You got the espresso-based drinks and non-espresso based drinks (espresso is the one that comes from those big machines). So, when it comes to non-espresso at specialty coffee shops you have two to three options.

Option 1: Pour-over

This is the best way to pretend you know what you’re talking about. Most coffee enthusiasts, like myself, love the pour-over because it takes a bit more time to brew and brings out flavours of the coffee. This is your typical black coffee but elevated.

Option 2: French press

Another black coffee like the pour-over, but stronger. Depending on the place, if you order this they typically give you a cup and the French press to sit there and enjoy. It’ll give you usually one to one and a half cups of coffee, so if you order this make sure you have time to sit and enjoy it.

Possible option 3: Drip/filtered coffee

This is your typical black coffee from a canister. Pre-made, quick, and ready for you to take it and go. If this variety is not available at a certain shop, it’s likely because they think it’s an abomination to coffee. If that option is there, don’t order it if you’re trying to impress people with your coffee knowledge.



This is for the purists. A single shot of espresso. It’s strong, it’ll keep you wired, and might give you heart palpitations if you aren’t used to it. If it’s your first few times drinking specialty coffee, avoid this. It’s basically like being at level one in a video game and facing the big boss. You’re gonna lose, it’s gonna suck, and you’ll never want to play again.


This is espresso and water. Basically watering down the espresso-making it a bit easier for you to drink. It’s like a black coffee, so if you want to change it up a bit and seem like you know your stuff order one of these.

Long Black

Similar to the Americano but they let the espresso pull a bit longer (don’t worry if you don’t understand what “pull” means in this context. Just use the words and pretend you know what you’re talking about).

Americano Misto

This is similar to the Americano (espresso and water) but they add steamed milk (or milk substitutes). If you want to mask the flavour of the espresso a bit and make it easier to drink, order one of these.


This is basically steamed milk with a splash of coffee. A single or double espresso shot and steamed milk. This will mask the flavour of the coffee more than an Americano Misto, so it’s about preference here.

Flat White

This is half espresso, half milk. Similar to a latté but with more espresso.


Basically a flat white but in a smaller cup. The Vancouver Coffee Snob loves these, and he’s an expert coffee drinker, so you know you’ll look good ordering one of these.


This drink is three parts: Espresso, steamed milk on top, and foamed milk. It all gives you a bit of a balance.


Same thing as the Cappuccino but instead of the steamed milk in the middle it’s chocolate. You can’t go wrong with this ’cause like…chocolate.

Con Panna

This is espresso and whipped cream. Delicious, just delicious.

Black Eye

You won’t find this everywhere. It’s basically an Americano but rather than water they use…more coffee. This will 100% keep you awake for a day depending on your tolerance. If this frightens you, stay away.

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