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Water Cooler: Terminology and deals to celebrate National Coffee Day

Dark roast coffee beans are cooled after roasting Jan. 12, 2018, at 4 Seasons Coffee Roaster in Spokane Valley.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)

Today is National Coffee Day, followed by International Coffee Day on the first of October. Coffee drinkers everywhere can rejoice in splurging on their favorite beverage. If you’re not a coffee drinker but feel like indulging for the occasion, here is a quick guide to espresso beverages to help you navigate all the tasty choices at your local coffee shop.


Let’s start with the basics. Espresso is a method of brewing coffee using high amounts of pressure to force a small amount of water through finely ground coffee. The Italian word “espresso” translates in English to expressed, which may be why some English speakers mistakenly refer to espresso as “expresso.”


As translated from Italian, macchiato means “spotted,” “stained” or “marked.” This somewhat vague definition leads to different versions of macchiatios across various cafes, but in general it means a small dollop (usually around an ounce or less) of frothed and steam milk is poured into a shot of espresso.


This drink of Spanish origin is usually served in a clear 4.5-ounce glass and consists of equal parts milk and espresso. The steamed milk tends to be less frothy than in Italian beverages.


An original Italian cappuccino is one-third espresso, one-third milk and one-third foam. Most American cafes do not follow those ratios strictly, but a cappuccino always comes with more foamed milk than other beverages. If you order a “wet” cappuccino, this means you are asking for less foam and will probably get something between a traditional cappuccino and a latte.


Lattes are an invention of the 1980s American coffee boom. In Europe, a latte can be any type of espresso drink with milk. In the United States, a latte tends to be an 8- to 12-ounce beverage with steamed milk and usually a double shot of espresso, topped with a thin layer of foamed milk, also called microfoam. That said, the amount of milk and espresso can vary depending on the sizes offered by the cafe.


Known internationally for diluting their coffee, Americans can be thanked for the creation of the americano. The story, although unconfirmed, usually credits World War II troops with requesting Italian cafes to dilute espresso with water and thus the Americano was born. Americanos usually come with 8 to 12 ounces of water, although the amount can vary depending on various beverage sizing.

Cafe au lait

Translated from French, a cafe au lait is simply “coffee with milk.” When ordered in the United States, you will usually receive drip or brewed coffee with the addition of steamed milk.

If you now feel sufficiently prepared to order yourself a fancy espresso beverage to celebration National Coffee Day, here are a few local coffee shops offering specials for the occasion.

Indaba – Get 50% off all drinks when ordering in store or on the Joe Coffee app with the code COFFEEDAY. Whole bean online orders are 50% off and new whole bean subscriptions will receive a free bag of whole bean coffee.

Ladder Coffee Roasters – Get 50% off all coffee drinks.

Wake Up Call – Customers can get a free 12-ounce drip coffee or $1 vanilla latte (limit one per customer).

Thomas Hammer – Customers who bring in a mug or purchase a mug will get a free fill of drip coffee up to 20 ounces.

Dutch Bros. – Get a free sticker with every purchase. Through the month of October, customers who purchase through the Dutch Bros. app are entered to win free coffee for a year.

Doma Coffee Roasting Co. – Bulk bags of coffee are 20% in store and online, and all online sales have free shipping.