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Do You Know Your Foam?

A quick guide to ordering exactly what you want when visiting your local coffee house.

espresso drink being poured at Bare Roots Coffee Roasting Co

After working in the industry for many years I have concluded that sometimes people aren't quite sure what they looking for when it comes to traditional espresso drinks.

Taking a step into coffee culture can sometimes be intimidating if you don't know the basics and are stepping into a place other than your regular shop.

So, let's get to know the most frequently ordered drinks and how they are usually made (keep in mind that shop-to-shop things may slightly differ).

The Milk

The way the milk is aerated, layered and the amount of milk used is what creates the difference in each espresso drink.

  • Steamed- no foam

  • Micro Foam- small bubbles, wet paint appearance, good for latte art 

  • Macro Foam- dry foam, larger bubbles

A latte being poured
A latte being made at Bare Roots Coffee Roasting Co

The Latte

Latte- A latte begins with shots of espresso poured on the bottom and is topped using steamed milk with a thin layer of microfoam directly on the top. This drink is regularly customized with different flavor combinations and toppings.

The Cappuccino

 You may be met with “Would you like that wet or dry?” from your barista when ordering this classic drink.

A wet cappuccino will have more steamed milk and less foam on top than when ordered dry. However, you will find it is still capped with a thick microfoam.

When you order a WET cappuccino the cup will feel heavier like a latte when you pick it up. 

A DRY cappuccino will have very little steamed milk and will contain mostly dry foam (macro foam). When you pick up your dry cappuccino it will feel light as a feather. The only heaviness will be produced from the espresso base.

The Traditional Macchiato

Upon entering a traditional coffee house or espresso bar and ordering yourself a macchiato you may hear the barista ask if you would like your drink made "traditionally?' The reason he or she is asking you this question is that a traditional macchiato is very very different than the mainstream caramel macchiato you may order elsewhere.

A traditional macchiato consists of espresso, a tiny amount of steamed milk, and a stain of microfoam. In Italian macchiato means “stained” or “spotted”. Traditionally it is served as no more than 4oz with the milk and microfoam never bypassing the amount of espresso in the drink. 

The More You Know

Now you know the basics and may enter into your next coffee experience confidently. Maybe you will decide to branch out and try something new. If you find yourself in South Lake Tahoe California stop into our roastery to enjoy your favorite drink and purchase a bag of freshly roasted beans.


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