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I don’t usually post on Saturday but I felt compelled to offer a service announcement today:) I’ve been obsessed with coffee this week.  My post on Monday was all about how to make a great cup of coffee at home. Many of you are heading out to shop for the holidays and like me, you might need to stop somewhere, sometime during the day for a cup of java.

Are you ever confused or intimidated about what to order when you step up to the coffee shop counter? I’ll never forget when I heard a perky ponytailed young lady order a Grande skinny, quad, whipless half-assed something or other. I was in awe of her and the fact that the barista KNEW what she was talking about!

I’ll also never forget when my girlfriend and I ducked into a coffee shop one evening and I ordered a double espresso. My girlfriend seemed surprised. I didn’t ask why but I soon found out. I didn’t sleep for a week. Clearly I didn’t know what I was doing. Note to self: when girlfriend acts surprised by behavior but doesn’t offer explanation, ask why.

Seriously though, wouldn’t you like to experiment more, try something different? Wouldn’t you like to be Miss Perky Ponytail today?  

For your holiday shopping pleasure, here’s your Kate’s Holiday Coffee House Cheat Sheet.

Buzzwords to remember : Most specialty coffee drinks are based on a simple, single ingredient: espresso, which starts with a dark-roasted bean that’s finely ground and used in small, concentrated portions usually one shot per serving.

For example, latte means milk in Italian and a latte is one shot of espresso with a dense mixture of foam and steamed milk. “Foam” is hot milk whipped with air; steamed milk is simply heated. If you want to make it a mocha latte that would mean chocolate syrup is swirled in and then it would be topped with a dollop of whipped cream. If you want to make it a “skinny” that would imply low-fat milk and usually no whipped cream.

See how easy this is?

Cappuccino calls for less milk than a latte, and is a lighter drink. Macchiato is the Italian word for “marked” and comes two ways as well, espresso is marked on top with a spoonful of  milk, or vice versa.

If you’re not a milk lover, try an Americano, a shot of espresso diluted with hot water. Need a bigger jolt? Go for it. You can ask for more than one shot of espresso.


Drip Brewed coffee.
Espresso Powerful brew resulting from steam forced   through packed ground coffee. Look for rich brown “crema” on top.
Cafe au Lait Equal parts brewed coffee and hot milk.
Cafe Latte Espresso with steamed milk.
Cappuccino Latte with milk foam on top.
Cafe Macchiato Espresso with a hint of milk foam.
Cafe con Panna Espresso topped with whipped cream.
Cafe Americano Espresso with a dash of hot water.
Half-caff Espresso made with half regular and half  decaffeinated beans.
Mocha Latte Latte with cocoa, topped with whipped   cream.
Skinny Any coffee drink with nonfat milk instead   of regular milk.
Single, Double, Triple or Quad The number of espresso shots (one, two,  three or four) in a drink.
Short, Tall, Grande Small, medium, large cups (respectively).
Vanilla, Caramel, Hazelnut Flavored syrups that can be added to a   coffee drink.
Irish Coffee Coffee with a shot of whiskey, heavy whipping cream and three sugar cubes.

Did I forget anything? What’s your favorite brew? Have you had any coffee order mishaps?

Have a fun weekend!