The origins of coffee names

From Cappuccino to Caffè Latte, the origins of your favourite coffees are sure to surprise you.


The Italian word espresso refers to a coffee being “pressed” out of the coffee machine due to its high pressure. It is also linked to the notion of a cup of coffee being made one at a time “expressly” for one person.




In Italian, Caffé means Coffee and Latte means Milk. Caffé Latte therefore literally means Milk Coffee. In Western countries we’ve tended to drop the Caffé and simply order a Latte. I can’t recount the number of stories I’ve heard of people asking for a Latte in Italy and being delivered a glass of warm milk!


First introduced in Italy in the 20th Century, this drink is named after the Capuchin monks who wore dark brown hoods. The brown top of the coffee displayed a likeness to the colour of the monks’ hoods.
Macchiato means “marked or stained” in Italian. The espresso is ‘stained’ with a dollop of silky foamed milk.
Meaning ‘to drown’ in Italian, this espresso-based coffee treat has become a popular dessert around the world. Traditionally made with Fior di Latte gelato, an espresso is poured over a scoop of gelato, literally drowning it in coffee.


Australia’s very own claim to fame, although our New Zealand neighbours fiercely debate the origin of the drink. Invention aside, the general consensus is that a growing number of people were asking for cappuccinos without the foam. So the Flat (no foam) White (with milk) was born.