Baristas spill the (coffee) beans: Mosaic’s guide to your favorite cafe drinks
For students who aren’t baristas or coffee connoisseurs, stepping into a cafe can be intimidating.
With chalkboards scrawled with fancy Italian names, flavor shot options and a sinking feeling that the barista and cashier will be judgemental when asked just what exactly a cappuccino is, it is easy to simply order a medium iced coffee and make a break for class.
However, the world of coffee drinks does not have to remain mysterious and elevated for the average coffee drinker. With a little knowledge of the difference between “espresso” and “coffee” and a little dedication toward distinguishing the foam contents of a latte from a cappuccino, any student can begin navigating their way around some of the more exciting cafe drinks.
A basic place to begin is with roasts. According to Megan Pacitti, a senior who is studying linguistics and Spanish while working as a barista at Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street, the roast of a coffee has an impact on its flavor.
“Dark roast is just when they roast the beans for longer so the coffee is richer and stronger,” Pacitti says. “A light roast means they’re roasting the beans for less time. Espresso is just when the beans are roasted really dark, and [the flavor is] a lot stronger.”
From there, drinks can be broken down into espresso and coffee drinks. As their names suggest, espresso drinks — like lattes and cappuccinos — contain shots of espresso, whereas coffee drinks contain brewed coffee. Coffee drinks may be served iced or hot, and can be customized with flavor syrups for a sweet touch.
Meanwhile, espresso drinks are a combination of espresso shots, milk and foam. Brew HaHa! cashier Alexis Winward, who is a sophomore studying history education, outlines the ratios of these three core ingredients in popular espresso beverages.
“Lattes and cappuccinos are almost the same thing,” Winward says. “But cappuccinos have more foam. A macchiato is going to be some kind of steamed milk with espresso [poured on top].”
Winward also notes that Americanos — technically considered an espresso beverage — do not contain milk, and are simply “hot water with espresso poured into it.”
Once a customer figures out the basic drink that they want, they can use flavor shots to customize it and make it individual to them.
“If you’re going to Brew HaHa! specifically, my favorite of the lattes is the Sugar Daddy, which is caramel and white mocha,” Winward says. “I get it with almond milk. If you don’t like coffee and are more of a frappuccino person, I would recommend trying one of our frozen lattes.”
According to Julia LaRock, a barista at Brewed Awakenings and a junior international relations major, Brewed Awakenings is receptive to customers trying out new flavor combinations. LaRock claims that she and her fellow baristas are always experimenting with new flavors, and are happy to create whatever a customer desires. Before LaRock began working at Brewed Awakenings, a former employee made a Butterbeer Latte that is not LaRock’s personal favorite.
Across the board, baristas encourage customers to try out new drinks.
“We value variety,” LaRock says. “You can pretty much put whatever in whatever you want. There’s no set menu.”