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All About Coffee

What is a Caffe Latte? What is a Cappuccino? Where do coffee beans come from?

Answers to questions you might be afraid to ask. Find 'em here!

Lattes & Cappuccinos

The Caffe Latte

For many, the taste of straight espresso is too strong. Welcome to the Caffe Latte. Espresso and steamed milk. With just a bit of foam. Add some flavor and suddenly you are in caffeine heaven!


If you enjoy the daily caffeine fix, but you simply don't like the taste of coffee, it's okay. You are in the majority. This is why lattes and mochas are the number one sellers in independent coffee houses across the world.

If you've been adding cream and some sort of sweetener to your coffee, the latte is a perfect way to step a little beyond your comfort zone. It's the best of both worlds! A little more caffeine and a lot more taste.

The most popular ones are Vanilla & Caramel Lattes. But it doesn't stop there. Add chocolate, and now you've got a Caffe Mocha. Prefer white chocolate? Welcome to the White Mocha. The options multiply from here.

At The Coffee Shelf we invent combinations of syrups, and chocolate with syrups, then attach a name. Usually it's a character from a book. Browse our list of beverages named after characters, find one for you, then come enjoy it in the atmosphere of books & community.


It was mid-morning at The Coffee Shelf. I began life as a Caffe Latte. My Barista added chocolate, plus this elegant design on top. The customer was pleased when I was served as a Caffe Mocha.

The Cappuccino

Unless they've begun hiring baristas, that gas station Cappuccino you've been buying, well, isn't.

A true Cappuccino takes a bit of art to make. It involves espresso and steamed milk, with a lot of foam. The Cappuccino connoisseur can tell right away if it was made correctly just by the weight of their to-go cup. It will be much lighter than a cup of coffee, or a Caffe Latte for that matter.

It's all about texture, and taste. The extra foam for a Cappuccino is what sets this drink apart from your standard Caffe Latte. 

At The Coffee Shelf we make cappuccinos the old fashioned way. It is the very last thing we teach to our new Baristas. It takes skill to make a true Cappuccino.

Hang out with us and enjoy one in a mug. You'll think you are in Italy. Except the accents. 


Caffeine Comes in Many Forms

The Americano

Ready for a history lesson?

When American troops reached Italy in the latter stages of WW II, they of course needed coffee. In Italy coffee meant espresso, which was a bit too strong for our soldiers. So we added water. This had the desired effect. 

One can imagine the coffee shop owners recognizing this trend. Eventually the process of adding water to espresso became known as The Americano. 

Today The Americano is simply another method to brew coffee. Add hot water to espresso, and you have a beverage similar in taste and caffeine content to a same-sized house coffee.


Start with great coffee beans. Grind them on a very fine setting. Pack the grounds down tight into a portafilter. Run high-pressure water at approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 22 to 27 seconds, and voila! You have Coffee Shelf quality espresso.


Once the espresso is ready there are 4 basic drinks that can be made.

  1. Straight Espresso

  2. Add hot water for an Americano

  3. Add steamed milk for a Latte or Mocha

  4. Add foamy milk for a Cappuccino


A Barista steams milk for either a Latte or a Cappuccino.


Chocolate drizzle is added to the whipped topping. It's a Caffe Mocha! Yummy!  Though there are 4 basic drinks from the initial espresso, the combinations for taste profiles number in the hundreds!

Other Coffee Drinks

Cafe Au Lait

The literal French translation is "coffee with milk." In most independent coffee houses you will get half house coffee, and half steamed milk when you order this drink. You can still add flavors just like with a latte.

Flat White

This is a Caffe Latte, but without any foam at the top. Customers choose this because they do not like the texture from that small amount of foamy milk.

Redeye or Blackeye


These two are popular drinks at most coffee houses. It is simply adding espresso shots to a house coffee. A Redeye is one espresso shot. A Blackeye is two espresso shots added to house coffee. If all you want is coffee but you need some extra caffeine, consider ordering this drink.


Equal parts espresso and steamed milk. This is very different from a Caffe Latte. With a 16oz Caffe Latte you will typically get 3oz of espresso and about 11oz of steamed milk (and about 2oz of foam). For a Cortado with two espresso shots, you are getting 3oz of espresso and 3oz of steamed milk. This drink is perfect for someone who loves espresso, but requires a small amount of milk to tone down the robustness of a straight espresso shot.

Caffeine Served Cold

Blended Beverages

Some say frappe, others say frappuccino, we say frozen.

No matter what term one uses, blending cold brew espresso with chocolate, or simply a flavor like vanilla or caramel, into a blender provides the customer with that caffeine boost combined with the taste of a shake.

The number of combinations with chocolate, flavors, and even white chocolate, are only limited by imagination. Check out our literary character drinks for examples of what we do at The Coffee Shelf.


Over Ice is also Great

From Vanilla Lattes to Caffe Mochas. It can all be served over ice.

The process we use to make cold brew requires 24 hours of brewing. But there's more to it. We start with finely roasted beans from our whole bean supplier. The same ones used in our house coffee. It's a medium roast, five-country blend which earned Crimson Cup the honors of 2016 roaster of the year.

Iced coffee is as popular as ever. So much so that people are drinking it in the dead of winter, just as others continue to enjoy piping hot coffee in July.

Taste supersedes temperature. A great cold brew iced coffee is hard to beat any time of the year.


For many of our customers, just a little almond milk flowing down into our cold brew iced coffee is good enough

The Coffee Cherry

where its grown

Just like grapes for wine, the soil is what drives the taste for coffee beans. But it all begins as a coffee cherry grown on trees.

Did you know?

  • There are approximately 400 different palettes world wide for wine

  • Coffee has over 800 taste palettes throughout the equatorial regions

This is why beans imported from Ethiopia might have a fruity after taste, while beans from Nicaragua sometimes provide a hint of caramel & vanilla.


These aren't flavored beans. That's done by a roaster. This is the natural taste palette from the soil where the coffee cherries are grown.

It begins as a crimson colored coffee cherry, and finishes as a the all-familiar brown coffee bean by the time it arrives at your local coffee house.

Coffee Beans

It's Time to Roast

When beans are imported to a roaster they are green in color. This is because they still need to go into the ovens.​


Did you know?

  • Light roast actually has a greater caffeine content than medium or dark roast

  • Time and temperature is the enemy to the coffee bean

  • The longer the beans are roasted, the less caffeine there is. Longer roast times also means a more robust, or black currant taste.

Manual Brewing

Most brewing methods on the market focus on brewing coffee quickly and efficiently. If a k-cup satisfies your need for taste and caffeine, that's just fine. No judgment. But you can probably move on to a different section of our website.

Different methods for brewing coffee came about in order to extract the maximum taste from coffee beans. That's what espresso is all about. Finely ground beans are packed into a small bowl, and 200 degree water is pushed through at high pressure. While this is a simplified explanation, it helps with understanding the process for extracting flavor from coffee.

Though there are many different manual brewing methods throughout the globe, we are going to focus on the two which are offered at The Coffee Shelf.  Pour Over & French Press.

Pour Over Coffee

This is self explanatory once you understand how it is performed.

  • Place a cone shaped filter into a cone, usually ceramic

  • Boil water in a kettle

  • Place finely ground beans into the cone shaped filter

  • Place the cone above a cup

  • Slowly pour hot water over the grounds

This slows the brewing process just enough such that the maximum taste is pulled from the grounds. If you drink coffee straight black, this can be a real game changer for you.


French Press

This method provides nearly the same result as pour over coffee. It enables you to extract the taste from the grounds. It's simply a different method of getting there.

  • Grind your beans on a course setting

  • Pour grounds into bottom of press

  • Boil water in a kettle

  • Pour water into press

  • Wait 4 minutes

  • Press grounds to bottom. Pour coffee into mug

The reason some choose pour over instead of french press is the lack of "mud" at the bottom of the cup with pour over. Yet for simplicity, many choose french press. You can walk away and then return in 4 minutes and have your coffee.


Traditional Pour Over


Chemex Pour Over


French Press


Automatic Brewing

Keurig K-Duo Coffee Maker


Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System


Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine

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