Coffee lovers tend to fall into one of two categories: those who need the brown liquid to jolt them awake for their day, and those who prefer to linger over their cup and identify the different flavor notes. Though the beverage may inspire sighs of devotion or exclamations of salvation, choosing the proper coffee drink can be tricky for even the pickiest of coffee snobs. Even though Starbucks has made the words "latte" and "cappuccino" part of mainstream American culture, most of us are still perplexed as to what the differences are between these drinks. The increasingly strange names created by trendy cafés — what is a Gibraltar? — make figuring out which drink you want before you reach the cash register seem like an impossible task.
Never fear — these drinks are easily demystified. The different names relate to how the drinks are brewed, how much milk is added and, sometimes, how they are served. The drinks can be further classified by their country of origin, which is readily discernable through the name.
Though it might all seem overwhelming at first, the best way to understand the differences between these caffeinated drinks is simply to try as many different coffee beverages as possible. For those who are just entering the world of coffee, a cappuccino is a great place to start "to understand the presence of espresso, the value in the way it balances with the milk, and the skill and craft of its preparation," says Cesar Vega, owner and barista at Café Integral in New York City.