Ordering Coffee For Dummies: Beginners

So you're new to the coffee scene and you've heard all your friends talking about americanos, cortados, flat whites, long blacks, pour overs, and a bunch of other things. It took you a few months to realize they weren't swearing at you in different languages but actually talking about the types of coffee they order so you figured...why not try these for yourself. You go to your local coffee shop and have ZERO clue what to order. Well rather than pointing at the menu and saying "I want that thing" and looking like a dummy to that cute barista, I'm here to give you tips on how to order and yes you can call me your hero later.

Non Espresso

Let's start off easy. There are two main family groups. You got the espresso based drinks and non espresso based drinks (espresso is the one that comes from those big machines...please keep up). So when it comes to non espresso at specialty coffee shops you have 2-3 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 flavors of the coffee. This is your typical black coffee but better.

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 1-1 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 cannisters. Pre-made, quick, ready for you to take it and go. Why it might not be there is because most coffee people think this is an abomination to coffee and is not how coffee should be enjoyed so they won't make it. If that option is there DO NOT ORDER IT if you're trying to impress people with your coffee knowledge.

Espresso Based


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 1 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 flavor 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 flavor of the coffee more than an Americano Misto so it's about preference here.

Bonus Tip: Flavored lattés

DONT ORDER THESE!!! they're an abomination and an insult to coffee. Basically flavoring to fully mask the coffee. Don't do it! 

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 3 parts. Espresso, steamed milk on top and foamed milk. 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-a week depending on your tolerance. If this frightens you stay away!!!!

So this should be good for now. You have a few options to get you started on your coffee adventure. There are a thousand options and combinations but for now let's get you started with these basics. Try them out, impress your friends with your new found coffee knowledge, and let me know if this helped! Until the next list, stay caffeinated.

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