Espresso, Mocha, Latte Cappuccino, Americano? What’s the Difference?

There’s nothing like a smooth cup of coffee first thing in the morning. Coffee jump-starts your day. It also is a treat to some who like to savor the flavor of different blends. When you walk into your local coffee shop and see this huge menu you wonder, is there really a difference between all these different types of drinks?

Let me enlighten you about what exactly goes into the making of each of these gourmet coffee drinks.



Espresso is a very strong, finely ground dark coffee. It is made in a special coffee maker and is packed into a metal filter that sends pressurized water through it making a superb coffee. Espresso is served in smaller portions, generally in one or 2-ounce cups. For those who feel the taste is too bitter, a cube of sugar usually accompanies it.


Mocha usually is any type of espresso drink with a shot of chocolate in it. There are a few different ways you can make this. Either you can put a few pumps or squirts of chocolate syrup into your espresso or you can add some hot chocolate mix to it. The choice is really up to the creator of the drink. Both ways are tasty.


A latte consists of steamed milk poured on top of an espresso. There is no foam consistency to it. Basically, it’s espresso mixed with milk. It’s not fancy but gives a creamy taste to an otherwise bitter espresso.


When you think of cappuccino, you usually associate that with foam. Cappuccino is made with espresso and then foam is scooped onto the top. The foam is usually made with the steam coming out of a lever on the espresso machine. I like to sprinkle a little cinnamon to add an extra pizzazz to my cappuccino.


This type of espresso is a watered down form of a regular espresso. For those of you who can’t handle the intense strength of espresso, an Americano allows you to enjoy the flavorful taste of espresso but at a fraction of the strength. It is made by either filtering water onto espresso or pouring water into the already brewed cup. Whichever way it’s made, the outcome is the same.

So now that you’ve gotten the basic terms of espresso drinking down, you should be able to dive into your local coffee house and decipher the menu, right? Nope, not true at all. Under each of these specialty coffees, there are even more terms to break those up. Here are a few definitions you may need to know before you order your drink.


When you refer to a “wet” cappuccino, it is understood that you would like half steamed milk and half foam in and on your drink.


Wait. How can a beverage be dry? In coffee-house speak, that just means you want foam. So in any other terms, you will not find steamed milk in your drink. Once you drink away all that foam, it will just be a black cup of espresso.


No this does not mean this drink will melt your pounds away. When you ask for a “skinny” latte or cappuccino, it means for your barista to use skim milk.

Now mind you, not all coffee is created equal, and every coffee-house interprets espresso making differently, so don’t take my word for it. Scope out the atmosphere and see what other people are ordering. Are you in the mood for a sweet treat or would you rather be amped up on caffeine for that all night writing or jam session? Whatever your reasoning for your coffee outing enjoy it and don’t forget the advice I gave you today.