Milk-Based Coffees… Explained

There are so many barista-style coffees to choose from, it can be tricky to know your macchiato from your mocha.  Here at FreshGround each and every one of our team is Speciality Coffee Association trained so we certainly know our beans. In this blog, we take a look at the most popular milky coffees. Although if you’re a coffee lover that prefers it black, check out our black coffee blog as well.


The classic cappuccino was born out of Italy back in the early 1900s and has stood the test of time. Made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk, it’s usually served with a sprinkling of powdered chocolate or cinnamon on top. It’s a café staple and one of the first speciality coffees to take off here in the UK. Recognised by its frothy layer of foam, cappuccinos are most often prepared using an espresso machine although they can also be made by hand.


The perfect latte has a deliciously creamy, velvety taste and is made using one shot of espresso and three parts steamed milk. As it contains more milk than a cappuccino, it’s a longer drink. And many people order it with a shot of flavouring like caramel, vanilla or hazelnut. Note that if you’re ordering it in Italy, ‘latte’ literally translates to ‘milk’ so be sure to ask for a café latte to avoid any confusion!

Flat white

Silky and smooth, the flat white is a popular short coffee thought to have been created in Australia. It’s made with espresso (either single or double shots) blended with steamed milk, gently infused with air to create microfoam. Less milky than a latte, the silky microfoam is still a fantastic canvas to create stunning coffee art – the signature of the practised barista!


Originating in Spain, this small coffee shares characteristics with the flat white and the macchiato. The name derives from the verb ‘cortar’, which means ‘to cut’, in reference to how the milk ‘cuts’ through the espresso. With a 1:1 ratio of coffee and steamed milk (usually warm rather than hot), it’s perfect for those looking for something shorter than a flat white but with a good balance between milk and coffee. Unlike many Italian coffees and the flat white, the milk in a cortado isn’t as frothy, but is more silky in texture.


The macchiato is a short drink made by combining a shot of espresso with a small splash of foamed or steamed milk. It has a stronger flavour than other milky coffee varieties and is thought to have been created by baristas in Italy back in the eighties. It translates to ‘stained’ or ‘spotted which comes from the fact the top of the drink has a slightly spotted appearance. The caramel macchiato made famous by Starbucks in 1996 is an iconic coffee drink. Made with espresso, vanilla, steamed milk, drizzled with caramel, it’s perfect for those with a sweet tooth!


Sometimes known as café mocha, it’s most commonly made by blending a shot of espresso, steamed milk, chocolate syrup or chocolate powder and delicious whipped cream on top. The drink was created in the USA and takes inspiration from a Turin coffee called the Bicern. If you can’t make your mind up between a frothy cappuccino and a creamy hot chocolate, the mocha is for you.

We’re here to help

Whatever your favourite coffee drink is, we’ve got it! Check out our range of office coffee machines that make your perfect cup of happy to enjoy at work. And if you’re working from home, we’ve also got a whole range of coffee drinks and other refreshments in our selection of Perks Boxes. If you have any queries, give us a call and we’d be delighted to help you.

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