Milk Or No Milk? Hot Coffee Drinks Explained

December 07, 2022

Everyone has a regular coffee order, and more often than not, one might feel hesitant to stray away from the norm when it comes to their morning cup. For some, that could be out of personal preference, but others might not know what different coffee drinks can bring to the table. The world of coffee undoubtedly offers many options, each one with its unique flair. Whether you enjoy your coffee portioned small or large or served black or with milk, it's always helpful to brush up on your terminology and avoid confusion at the coffee counter (or home coffee station.)

Here is a comprehensive guide to hot coffee drinks you can order at your local shop or make at home.


As one of coffee's signature preparations, espresso can be enjoyed on its own or used as the caffeinated base for several popular beverages. Espresso is made from finely ground coffee brewed under high pressure and high heat in a short time frame. Typically, the only method for producing the ideal conditions for espresso extraction is by using an espresso machine, but stovetop Moka's produce similar conditions with comparable results.

Espresso shots can come as singles or doubles at one and two fluid ounces, respectively. The extraction is dark with an intensely aromatic, earthy, and bittersweet flavor. Espresso should also display a crema layer, a layer of creamy microbubbles produced from the extraction's CO2 interacting with the coffee's natural fats and oils.


Lungo refers to an espresso shot that is extracted in a more extended period and using a higher volume of water. The final product is a flavorful but more mellow-tasting coffee with a less creamy texture.


Ristretto refers to the opposite of a lungo: an espresso shot extracted in a shorter period and using a lower volume of water. This produces a smaller, more intensely flavored espresso.

Filtered Coffee

Filtered coffee refers to a brewing method rather than one specific beverage. Using thin paper-based filters, these recipes have most of the coffee's oils pulled out of the final brew as they are absorbed by the filter. This creates a smooth, clean-tasting cup where the grounds' natural flavors shine through clearly in each sip.

Drip coffee is the most commonly found type of filtered coffee. Made with an auto-drip machine, drip usually calls for 1-2 tbsps of medium-coarse grounds per 6 ounces of water.

Pour Over

Pour over coffees are another type of filtered coffee but are far more technical to brew. If brewed properly, the pour over method can produce a clean, full-bodied, and incredibly fragrant cup. However, you'll need a medium-coarse grind and a handful of equipment to get started.

For this method, you'll need a mug, pour over dripper, paper filters, a scale, a timer, and a water kettle with a gooseneck spout for optimal control. For clear instructions on how to make an excellent pour over at home, please read our step-by-step guide.

To shop for all your necessary pour over equipment, check out our Pour Over Maker and other important accessories here.

This more time-consuming brewing method uses gentle temperatures, water control, and precision to extract maximum flavor from your grounds while simultaneously filtering out oils. With some larger pour over drippers, making batches for a few cups is possible. However, pour over is a brewing method that requires patience and is typically reserved for individual cups.

French Press

The French Press is one of the most convenient methods for brewing several cups at once. Brewed in a lidded glass or metal vessel with a pressable metal filter (aka the "plunger"), coarse coffee grounds get saturated in hot water for a few minutes before the grounds are pressed to the bottom by the filter. This ultimately separates the grounds from the brewed coffee inside the vessel.

This method doesn't remove the coffee's natural oils from the brew, which creates a bold coffee with plenty of texture. Although dosages of grounds may vary depending on what size French Press is being used, most recipes call for one tbsp of coffee per four ounces of water.

Interested in a French Press for your home? Check out our 20z borosilicate glass French Press with a stainless steel plunger. For more information on how to brew the perfect French Press, find the tips and tricks you're looking for here.

Cafe Au Lait

This classic beverage consists of two ingredients: hot drip coffee and steamed milk. Steaming the milk brings out its natural sweetness that pairs wonderfully with a clean-tasting cup of filtered coffee.


A coffee house staple, the latte consists of a double shot of espresso topped with steamed milk. It typically comes in a 10 or 16 oz size.


An Italian classic, the cappuccino is the same setup as a latte but includes steamed and foamed milk. The body of your beverage is a mixture of espresso and milk, and your drink's top layer should be a fluffy coating of foamed bubbles.

Flat White

Popular in Australia and the UK, a flat white is the halfway point between a latte and cappuccino. Its steamed milk should be foamier than a latte's but not as frothy as a cappuccino's. The sweet spot is rich, velvety milk.

Caffé Macchiato

A caffé macchiato consists of a shot of espresso with a thick dollop of foamed milk on top to help balance out the extraction's intensity.

Caffé Americano

This is a go-to drink for anyone who is looking for espresso's rich, earthy intensity but slightly diluted. The Americano consists of a double shot of espresso mixed with hot water. The amount of water comes down to personal preference.


With a serving size of about 4-5 oz, cortados are a 1:1 ratio of espresso and steamed milk. This creates a balanced drink that is equally smooth and bold in flavor. Cortados are also commonly referred to as Gibraltars.

Red Eye

The Red Eye is not for those who are sensitive to caffeine. Getting its name from morning commuters who crave an intense jolt of energy, the Red Eye is drip coffee with a shot of espresso mixed in.