I’m sure you’ve heard this question before and not at your favorite coffee shop. Not that many years ago the mainstream coffee culture was limited to “milk or cream” and “sugar or sweetener”.
I remember when I moved here five years ago Tim Horton’s didn’t offer cappuccinos or lattes, and a dark roast coffee was unheard of. The industry realized that Starbucks had a good idea and hipster coffee houses are popping up everywhere.
Today, crazy blends of “almond milk” and “matcha tea” with “organic honey” are as common as ordering your favorite coffee-based drink through an app from your cell phone, skipping the line, grabbing you coffee and leaving without even glancing at the cashier.
Restaurants have realized that a dining experience can’t be complete without a strong finish, and that means a good coffee beyond your “regular or decaf” options.
If you’re a coffee lover you probably already know this, but if you are in the industry knowing more about coffee is a very good way to make better tips. Offering coffee after the meal is a natural step, especially after lunch, but aiming for the premium options is a surefire way of increasing your check average and getting some extra dollars into your pocket.
Here are the basic types of coffee options you have to know about:
Is just your “regular” cup of coffee, brewed over a paper filter and usually comes in two options: regular or decaf (decaffeinated). Here in Canada people will most likely drink it with a side of “milk or cream” and sugar (or sweetener).
It’s common to hear double-double or triple-double or any variation of that. Those are ordering cues made famous by Tim Horton’s chain of coffee shops, a true Canadian symbol, meaning the amount of cream-sugar you like in your beverage.
Literally translated from Italian it means “under pressure”. This technique for serving coffee was invented (or at least first patented) by Angelo Moriondo in 1884, an Italian that was looking for a way to serve coffee quickly without having to brew it in bulk ahead of time, but instead doing it in individual orders preserving the freshness of the beans.
The idea is simple, the beans are ground finely and compressed inside the portafilter (the handle looking thingy), the machine then pushes pressurized hot water through the grounds, this causes the water to extract color, flavor, aromas, and natural oils from the powder in an even manner.
The espresso is the technique for making coffee that extracts the most amount of good things, such as flavor and caffeine, from the ground beans. This technique is the only one that can create the crema, that foamy texture, by emulsifying the natural oils from the coffee beans.
There are a few styles of espresso, their original names are in Italian, but they also have English counterparts (sometimes). They are divided between “size” and “length”. “Size” refers to the amount of coffee used and “length” to the amount of water:
Normale or standard (simply called an espresso)
The standard shot, as defined by the Italian Espresso National Institute (http://www.espressoitaliano.org) and also the one used by most machine manufacturers, is set to use 7g of ground coffee beans and to be extracted by 60ml (1oz) of water under pressure.
Corto or Short (also called a Ristretto)
A short espresso is like a regular espresso with less water being run through it. Meaning that the beverage will be even more concentrated. About 30ml to 40ml of water, so half to three-quarters of the regular amount is run through.
Lungo or Long
A long espresso (you probably guessed) is “extracted” with more water running through, uses around 100ml (1 ½ oz) of water, being a little lighter.
Single refers to the “size” or amount of coffee. This is the standard set in 7g of coffee.
Just like you thought is double the amount of coffee grounds or 14g, but a lot of places will serve two single shots, as a customer, I’m fine with either.
Most professional machines will have two filters: one for single and one for double and are marked to guarantee the right amount of coffee is used.
Americano literally means American, it’s a shot of espresso with the addition of hot water to dilute it and mimic a cup of brewed coffee. The origin is unknown, but it’s easy to imagine that this was a tourist’s request that became famous and was adopted by the savvy Italian restauranteurs. Served on a cappuccino cup
Would you like it with milk?
There are a few variations that use milk and are amazing options. Starbucks has made the Latte famous in North America, but they also have taken some liberties in adapting the size and way of serving them, inventing their own style.
Their creations aside, which a lot of traditionalists won’t even consider it coffee, here are the classic espresso drink made with milk.
It’s a regular espresso with a touch of steamed milk foam on top. Visually it will appear like a white circle within a dark circle.
This icon is created by a shot of espresso (originally a short or ristretto) with a 100ml of steamed milk poured on top. Steaming the milk infuses it with air and makes its texture very creamy and foamy. The texture is essential for a good cappuccino.
The difference between the latte and the cappuccino is the amount of milk that goes into it. This one uses double the amount of milk in order to fill a standard size cup (250ml). Therefore 210ml of steamed milk must be used.
But feel free to add as much as you want to make a “Venti”, or a 20oz (600ml) beverage.
Another great option for your after-meal beverages are the Specialty Coffees, which are alcoholic drinks made with coffee as a base. They are not only incredibly flavorful, they also have a nice presentation and are great for increasing that check average because they are more expensive. But more on that on an upcoming post.