Let’s talk about menus and the ‘mini latte’…

At 6/8 we have a fairly typical speciality coffee menu, people who drink in speciality coffee shops will get it, those who are new to speciality coffee can find it confusing. Honestly a speciality coffee menu can be a little confusing, we will discuss why in a minute.

First for the newbies a quick run-down of the menu: –

Espresso – approx. 30 ml of coffee made under pressure (espresso is the base, or the coffee in all the drinks we are discussing here.)

Macchiato – espresso, served in an espresso cup with a very small amount of steamed milk, served with a dot of milk foam (‘micro foam’) on top.

Piccolo – espresso with a little more steamed milk, we serve ours in an espresso cup, filled to the rim with steamed milk. (The piccolo may be made with a ‘ristretto’ – which is a smaller stronger espresso.

Cortado – espresso with steamed milk! (you might be seeing a pattern here!) We serve ours in a traditional Spanish 4oz gibraltar glass.

Flat white – of antipodean origin (Australia and New Zealand – antipodean is a good coffee word.) It is said that flat white is the resulting back-lash against the very foamy (or dry) cappuccino often served in the 90’s, again it is espresso with steamed milk, usually around 5/6 oz and possibly served ‘wet’ (with thin micro foam.)

Latte – espresso with steamed milk, with ‘medium’ thickness of micro foam. We serve a 8 and a 12 oz.

Cappuccino – traditionally 6/7 oz, a cappuccino is espresso with steamed milk and a slightly thicker layer of micro foam. At 6/8 ours is a little larger, 8 oz.

Long black – espresso with hot water, otherwise known as an Americano – some say traditionally an Americano is made by pouring hot water on espresso while a long black is espresso poured on hot water … others say a well-made Americano is… a long black. An Americano originates from World War 2 in Italy when American soldiers would ask for an espresso with water making it more like the filter coffee mainly served in America.

…So, why so complicated? The main reason, we think, is that speciality coffee has a lot of different influences from different cultures. Italian, American, Antipodean (told you it was a good word) speciality coffee has been influenced by the past, by tradition and by modern techniques or trends.

People may disagree, but we think a speciality  menu can be broken into some simple groups …

Group 1
Espresso – is espresso

Group 2
Macchiato, piccolo, cortado, flat white. latte. The latte and the mini latte – these are basically the same drink, made in different sizes.

Group 3
cappuccino – is a latte with slightly thicker micro foam, that said, often a ‘wetter’ cappuccino is a better cappuccino … maybe we should move cappuccino to group 2!

Group 4
long black – a well-made Americano?

So why have 8 drink names when maybe 4 would do? Well coffee drinkers can be a pernickety bunch! (We include ourselves in this!) We like our coffee, just so. As a coffee shop we don’t want to upset our customers by taking their regular drink off the menu!

Most speciality coffee shops in Birmingham have a largely traditional ‘speciality’ menu, although there are some brave souls out there, breaking boundaries. Maybe speciality coffee needs a new language, looking forward and not back, maybe we all should be a little braver and make it all make a bit more sense!


SensibleTraveler