A coffee, by any other name

Debenhams coffee menu

Debenhams coffee menu

Having returned from France recently and fallen foul of the right terminology for ordering a latte, I started mulling over the naming culture that’s grown up around coffee.

In France, a ‘caffè latte’ is only really used in American coffee chains; a combination of espresso and steamed milk equivalent to a ‘latte’ is in French called a ‘grand crème’ – and in Germany, you’d order a ‘Milchkaffee’ or ‘Melange’. Woe betide the tourist ordering a ‘cafè au lait‘ in Paris – likely to receive a huge cup and larger bill.

My brother used to work at Starbucks whilst at University – or SkcubRats as it used to say on his reversed apron – and when very busy at the barista station would be pushing out lots of coffees. When asked if the coffee presented was a ‘venti seven-shot three-shot-decaf one-and-a-half-pump sugar-free amaretto hundred and seventy degree two percent seven nutrasweet with whip extra caramel extra sprinkles caramel macchiato with a twist of lemon‘, he would just look at them with dead eyes and say “Yes”. They would then sip it, glare, sip it again, nod and leave. Not realising they’d been given a mocha.

Bad puns aside, do people really need to complicate what is essentially coffee and milk?

I recently registered for free on London Coffee Guide and used their map of gourmet coffeeshops to do a little orienteering and research on my lunchbreak. I usually ordered a latte, and depending on the cafe received either one or two espresso shots as standard, but here are a few menu observations:

  • Carter Lane Coffee House – serves a Cortado, warm milk added after espresso at a ratio of 1:1, otherwise known as a “Tallat” in Catalan, “Ebaki” in Basque, “Pingo” or “Garoto” in Portugal and “noisette” in France.
  • Association Coffee – serves Espresso Flight, a single shot espresso and a single shot cappuccino served side-by-side.
  • Bea’s of bloomsbury – serves the normal range including the Macchiato, where the double espresso is added to the milk rather than vice versa.

HOWEVER, Curator’s Coffee Studio – refreshingly, serves ‘Any Espresso and milk combination requested’ for the same price!

Maybe I’m being a pedant and a grump. Just maybe. But to draw the metaphor back to B2B Marketing – when naming, it’s best to keep it simple and not try to baffle the customer with impressive sounding variations of the same thing.



  1. […] A coffee, by any other name (jacobwhoward.wordpress.com) […]

  2. In Switzerland (French) a latte is a reverse. (I haven’t worked out where my graves and acutes are on my keyboard .) Luckily I.m a black drinker and either cafe noir or expresso would have me sipping happily.

  3. […] A coffee, by any other name (jacobwhoward.wordpress.com) […]

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