Deciphering Cafe Vocabulary
By Tami Sutcliffe, staff writer (C) 2013

Coffee or tea?
Coffeehouses have experienced a boom in America during the last few years, with more than 9,500 coffee bars and shops actively steaming, pressing and brewing today. Coffee rules as the morning beverage of choice for most Americans, but a growing interest in tea has bloomed, with new tea products appearing even inside the hallowed coffeehouses of the Pacific Northwest.

The secret
Maybe the division of loyalties is because tea averages only 30 - 70 mgs. of caffeine per 7 oz. cup while coffee averages 90 - 150 mgs. Believe it or not, just five cups of caffienated coffee contain enough jolt to get an Olympic athlete disqualified on the grounds of using a controlled substance. Perhaps that's why all those tea drinkers seem so serene.

"Are you ready to order?" How to decipher Cafe vocabulary
If you've ever stood in front of a massive menu board in a typical coffee house, wondering how to decipher what seemed like hundreds of choices, take heart. Here is a short list of basic vocabulary to get you sipping:

· Espresso is coffee made "under pressure." Close-to-boiling water and steam are forced through coffee grounds, to make a relatively thick drink, traditionally served in a tiny "demitasse" cup. If made properly, espresso is very strong coffee with a top layer of foam called crema.
· Caffe Americano is a "lite" watered-down version of espresso, usually made with one shot of espresso and 6 - 8 oz. of hot water. As the name suggests, this is the equivalent of plain black American "gimme-a-cuppa" coffee.
· Macchiato is a cup of espresso "marked" with a just a spoonful of foamed milk.
· Con Panna is espresso with a blob of whipped cream.
· Latte is the Italian word for milk. If you ever go to Italy and request a latte, you'll be served a glass of milk. So, of course, Caffe Latte involves some combination of coffee and milk. If you like your coffee black, don't order a latte. · Cafe au lait is the French version of coffee with milk.
· Latte macchiato is steamed milk with a small dash of espresso.
· Cappuccino is usually espresso with lots and lots of foamed milk. If you order a "dry" cappuccino, you usually get extra foam, whereas "wet" will be milkier (less foam).
· Caffe mocha usually means some form of hot coffee mixed with chocolate of some kind. Traditional mocha involves espresso mixed with steamed milk, whipped cream and cocoa powder.
Hint: Estate coffee is specially picked to contain only one bean from one location. Most coffees are blends of mixed beans but estate coffees are only one flavor from unmixed beans.

And now for something completely different: Tea!
Compared to the coffee plant, which has only 30 or so species, the tea bush is a much more diverse and exotic shrub. Today there are more than 3,000 varieties of tea, each having its own distinct character and named for the district in which it is grown. While black and green teas are the most well-known, there are an astonishing number of exotic variations available to try. Here are a few famous varieties:
· Assam is a strong, dark tea from India. (The upper Assam valley is the largest tea producing area in the world and contains over 2,000 tea gardens.) Assam is often described as "malty."
· Ceylon has a delicious fragrance, a rich amber color and a full flavor. It is grown in Sri Lanka, which supplies about 25% of the world's tea.
· Darjeeling is grown in India and is one of the rarest of black teas, with only 42,000 acres under cultivation (less than three percent of all tea that India produces). It is also grown as a "green" tea and both forms have a distinctive taste depending on the season. Darjeeling harvested in the spring (often called "first flush") is lighter, while leaves picked in the summer yield the darker, stronger "second flush" tea.
· Keemun is famous for a bright red color. Grown in China, it is also noted for a sweet smell and mild flavor.
· Lapsang Souchong is an unusual tea, because the leaves are cured over open pine fires. This literally gives it a smoky taste. This Chinese specialty is strong, dark and reddish-brown.
· Yunnan is another interesting Chinese tea, sometimes called the "mocha" of tea. It has a golden red hue and often carries a strong flowery scent.

What else is new?
If you are looking for something refreshingly different, try some chai. Chai is the traditional word for tea, but this beverage has evolved into a modern treat that consists of milk and fine teas, laced with ginger, honey, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, vanilla and rare spices. Chai can be served hot or cold, just like tea itself.


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