Starbucks Etiquette: How to Order an Espresso Beverage at Starbucks

Starbucks Etiquette: How to Order an Espresso Beverage at Starbucks

I remember life before I was “in the know” at Starbucks. I would order a cappuccino or a latte, tall or grande, and that was that. I didn’t listen to the people who rattled off twenty syllable orders, and sometimes even wound up with the wrong sized beverage because, really, “tall” has never been an adjective associated with “small” in my vocabulary.

Then, I got to college in New York City, and even though New York is supposed to be the home of independent bookstores and coffee shops (like the one on the TV show, Friends), I discovered, much to the dismay of my coffee-lover-bookworm personality, that there was a Starbucks on every corner (not literally…but almost literally!). There were no cafes in the immediate area, and back then, I could barely do my own laundry, let alone make coffee. Also, the economy was “booming” and I could afford to spend $4 on a latte a few times each week (or at least I could justify it without going broke).

After a while, though, the lattes and cappuccinos got boring, and I wanted to be like the others and get something with a vanilla flavor or “extra foam” (more “froth” less milk). There are tons of options: tons of syrups, different kinds of milk, decaf, half-caf, chai, etc. Alas, I didn’t know what my options were, let alone how to order them, and if you hesitate at the counter at Starbucks at 8:30 AM on a weekday, you risk the “huffs” and eye rollings of impatient patrons…so I did some investigative work to learn how to properly order a Starbucks beverage…in the proper order (step by step):

  1. If you want your drink iced, say this first (you do not need to specify if you want it hot).
  2. If you want extra shots of espresso, say so after “iced”.
    1. Generally, a tall espresso drink comes with one shot of espresso, while grande and venti drinks come with two. The exception is an Americano, which comes with an extra shot of espresso. The following are the proper words to use when asking for extra shots:
    2. One shot – single
      Two shots – double
      Three shots – triple
      Four shots – quad.
    3. Ordering a “single tall” or a “double grande/venti” is redundant (for the reason mentioned above), so there is no need to specify under such circumstances (in which case this step can also be left blank).
  3. Specify the size:
    1. Tall = “small”
      Grande = “medium”
      Venti = “Large”
      *There is also a “short” (8 oz) size for hot beverages at Starbucks, though it is rarely utilized.
  4. Specify the caffeine content
    1. Half caf or decaf…if you want it caffeinated, don’t say anything.
  5. Only for hot beverages. Here you can say “extra hot” if you want your beverage extra hot, or “extra/light foam” to specify how much frothed milk they put in your drink. If you want a normal drink, don’t say anything.
  6. Specify the type of milk you would like: regular milk (i.e., 2%) does not require specification. The other types of milk are: skim (you can also say “skinny” for this), whole milk, soy, half and half, etc.
  7. Specify the flavor. You can go to for a full list of available syrups. The most commonly ordered ones are vanilla, hazelnut, and cinnamon. Most of the flavors also have sugar free versions.
  8. (Finally) say the name of your beverage (e.g., cappuccino, latte, etc.)

**Don’t worry too much about getting the order wrong (after a while, it will come naturally). The baristas will know what you mean even if you go in and ask for a “large coffee”. Generally, the words sound advanced and snooty, but the Starbucks employees aren’t.

A Guide to Coffee-drinking in Italy

A Guide to Coffee-drinking in Italy

Do you like coffee? Most people will answer this question “Yes”. Coffee is a popular drink worldwide and almost everyone enjoys drinking a cup. Coffee, aside of water is probably the most consumed drink in the world.
However, you can drink coffee in every country of the world; many tourists will visit Italy especially for drinking espresso. Italy can be called the home of the espresso coffee and the taste of this kind of coffee is different compared with other countries. When you order an espresso in Italy you probably get a very small cup of espresso coffee with a taste much stronger than in most countries of the world. Something you need to know about espresso in Italy is you can also ask for “an espresso lungo” and you get the same cup with twice as much water compared with the traditional espresso. If you like real strong coffee maybe a traditional espresso is preferable but I prefer one which is less strong.

When you order espresso lungo many waiters will suggest you caffe Americano because waiters in Italy think you prefer this taste of coffee. It is best you avoid this and reply with “no, I would like “un caffè lungo, per favore”. If you compare both you will notice the difference and I suggest you to drink an espresso lungo. A caffè Americano is just adding 6 to 8 ounces hot water to the traditional espresso.

It is strange that coffee in Italy is so popular because coffee doesn’t grow in Italy. One of the reasons is because many beans are roasted in the highest quality and no other country in the world spent so much energy in making coffee than Italy. There are so many variations and some people say that there are even more kinds of coffees than pastas. If you know that Italy is the country of the pasta you will have no problem finding coffee you like because of the variety offered. The taste of coffee is also different in every region of Italy.

You can call making coffee an art in Italy and the kind of coffee Italian people drink is different for every time of the day. They will not drink the same coffee with breakfast as in the afternoon. Mostly they will enjoy a cappuccino or a mokka with breakfast and maybe a grannito di caf or caffe corretto in the afternoon or evening.

Italian people will never drink a cappuccino in the afternoon so as to avoid stomach problems. It is unlikely they will drink cappucino after a meal. Drinking espresso is different; this can be done at every moment of the day. An important tip is that Italian people rarely drink coffee with a meal. Generally they will order coffee after a meal except breakfast.

When you compare drinking coffee in Italy with France; the French people spend more time drinking coffee, as opposed to the Italian people who like to drink this beverage in a rush and spend only 2 minutes in drinking one cup of coffee.
Italian coffee has a rich brown color and almost no oil on the beans; the French roast coffee are dark and with many oil.

Some popular Italian coffees are:
– caffè (espresso) : a strong cup of coffee and surely a must if you visit Italy; the taste is different than in other places in the world.
– doppio : double espresso
– ristretto : made with less water than espresso
– caffè Americano : stronger than espresso and served in a large cup of coffee
– macchiato : espresso with steamed milk on the top

– caffè latte : a strong expresso mixed with steamed milk
– corretto : espresso with grappa or cognac
– cappucino : coffee with foamed milk

In many of the Italian cafes you immediately have to pay for your coffee when you order. This gives them the security you don’t leave if they are making your coffee.

Enjoy your coffee!

How to Make a Good Espresso Coffee at Home

How to Make a Good Espresso Coffee at Home

How many times you wanted to have a good cup of espresso without having to leave the house? Following these few simple suggestions anybody can enjoy a great espresso in the comfort of their home. The most important thing for a great espresso, after the quality of the coffee, is the way it’s grounded. A good grinding is what really allows the coffee bean to give the best of it self.

Lets understand the reason why the grinding makes all the difference: During the brewing, in whatever style it’s made, coffee beans release their essential oils as hot water runs thought it, therefore a finer grinding will allow more of these oils to be released and make a deeper and more flavorful coffee.
The ideal grinding for espresso is finer than the one used for regular coffee; a simple way to check if your beans have been correctly grounded is to rub some grounded beans between your fingers: if it leaves your fingertips brown with coffee powder you did the right job.

Unlike many people think, Espresso has much less caffeine than regular coffee and this is due to the higher temperature and pressure that the water has, when runs through the grounded beans.

The amount of caffeine released in the coffee is directly related to the water temperature and the amount of time that the water takes to run though the filter holding the grounded coffee: the hotter the water, the less caffeine is released, also letting the water go through the coffee slower will make it easier for caffeine to dissolve while being brewed.

So what makes a real Espresso are three factors: good coffee grinding (7 grams), water temperature (95 Celsius/203 Fahrenheit) and water pressure of 9.5 atmospheres. We don’t need to have a professional espresso machine at home to get the real deal, many home espresso machines on the market do a good job even lacking of water pressure.

My favorite home espresso machine is the traditional Italian Moka, which can be found on the market fairly easy, they are very easy to use and quite inexpensive. They come in different sizes, I suggest using the smaller ones, two or four cups, the smaller the Moka is, and the better the Espresso will come out.

Some latest models have a pressure valve that builds up pressure and releases it in one powerful shot, making a delicious and creamy Espresso.
The only type of maintenance it requires is a good cleaning of the upper section of the Moka’s gasket; it can be done with a simple small brush or a toothbrush.
One advice I like to give is to always wash the Moka using only water and never use any kind of dish soap or detergent, unless you like soapy tasting Espresso.

There are on the market several good brands of well grounded Espresso coffee, without having to deal with coffee grinders.How the Moka works is very simple: the cylinder at the bottom contains the water; the funnel shaped aluminum container with the filter for the coffee gets placed on the top, and filled with coffee.
Screw the top part on it tight, and put on the stove; give it a few minutes the water will go to a boil and the pressure will burst the hot water upward into the filter and through the coffee, pouring out on the top in a fountain looking way.

What the models with a valve does is keep the water from exit from the bottom of the aluminum funnel until has enough pressure to burst through the filter and make that same, rich and creamy Espresso, that a professional machine would do.

At this point the only question should be: “How much sugar?”