Coffee for Book Lovers: A Guide to Specialty Coffee Drinks

I’m writing this post not only for you, but as a sort of validation for myself. You see, when you move to England as an American, the tiniest things can really throw you for a loop. Like specialty coffee drinks and what they really mean.

What Are Specialty Coffee Drinks?

Too many times now have I gone to a cafe to order my favorite iced coffee and received some kind of sugary, syrupy, dairy-filled mess. Which is wonderful when you’re expecting it, by the way, but causes a great deal of stress as a vegan. Instead of shrugging and accepting it, I’ve been forced to walk back to the barista with my tail between my legs to ask, “I’m sorry, is this an iced coffee?” in my best please-don’t-hate-me voice. The joys of being a stupid American who doesn’t know the kinds of coffee in the UK.

Because it turns out iced coffee is a relatively new phenomenon in England. As I’ve learned, the closest thing to an iced coffee here is an iced Americano. (Oh, but not when you go to a British Starbucks — their iced coffee for some reason makes sense. I’m not even going to bring up that confusion.)

I’m sorry to say, but an iced Americano is distinctly not a coffee. It is espresso and cold water. I sound like a stickler, but look, it’s just not the same thing.

The trauma was doubled upon trying to ask my boyfriend what he thinks an iced coffee is. About an hour was wasted, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no national consensus on how to classify kinds of coffee drinks in this country. I don’t know about you, but I find that deeply distressing.

How to Make Specialty Coffee Drinks

So I’ve done some research (googled) and come up with a list of what I tend to think of are the most popular kinds of coffees. You can even make these at home, if you’re willing to possibly ruin the first couple of attempts.

Because it’s mainly other literary-loving people who read this blog, I figured I would focus on the more common “aesthetic” coffee drinks. You know, the ones we see on Instagram and Pinterest (and let’s face it — probably go cold/melt while said photo is being taken). No shame — I’m one of those people, I just also like to be upfront about the reality of my online life.

That being said, if you want some more in-depth explanation, here is an article with a bit more detail and a couple more specialty coffee drinks to try out.

Specialty Coffee Drinks Simplified

Coffee


Basic. It’s just coffee. You usually receive it black with a little room for milk and sugar.

Espresso


The alternative to coffee that makes up many of the specialty coffee drinks below. If you order an espresso in a cafe, you will receive one shot of espresso. A double espresso? Two shots.

Latte


1/3 espresso, 2/3 steamed milk, milk foam

The next step up in the coffee world.

Americano

2/3 water, 1/3 espresso

Definitely not coffee, but good at masquerading as one. Basically an Americano is diluted espresso, so it will have a slightly different taste from just a cup of coffee.

Diagram of different specialty coffee drinks
a lil doodle I did of all the coffee types

Flat White


1/3 espresso, 2/3 steamed milk

Cappucino


1/3 espresso, 1/3 hot milk, 1/3 milk foam

Mocha


2/5 espresso, 2/5 chocolate, 1/5 steamed milk
Mochas often comes with whipped cream — personally, I’ve always thought of it as a fancy chocolate latte.

Macchiato


2 shots of espresso, dash of steamed milk

I love an iced macchiato with a lil syrup tossed in — it’s one of my favorite Starbucks treats. Plus, it’s one of those drinks that looks really fancy in addition to being yum.

Your “iced Americano” drinker,

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