There was once a time when the only types of coffee you could order in the UK were black and white – a time certain traditionalists both yearn for and cling to. Sadly for such folks, times have changed a fair but to say the least and not being willing to roll with the punches never fails to make for rather embarrassing trips to the coffee shop.


So, in the spirit of preventing as many red-faced exits as possible, here’s a quick 101 guide to ordering coffee in 2015 without giving yourself away as a bit of a java dinosaur:


1 – Espresso to Go is a No-No

Yes it’s possible to order an espresso to go, but left swilling around in the paper cup for more than about a minute it’s inherently going to end up cold…not to mention tasting of cardboard. Professional baristas the world over insist that if you’re out to get an espresso, you should at least take out the few seconds necessary to enjoy it from a proper ceramic or glass cup.


2 – Don’t Argue with Temperatures

One great way of outing yourself as someone that doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about is to head to a quality coffee house, order a quality coffee and then complain it’s either too hot or too cold. Unless you yourself know the exact temperatures those weird and wacky coffees are supposed to be, you have really no place telling the 20-year experienced barista he’s doing his job wrong. So unless you know for sure the exact temperature is off, keep quiet and enjoy it as it should be enjoyed.


3 – Foam Go Home

These days, a pretty sizeable chunk of the world’s most elite specialty coffees don’t come with any foam at all. The reason being that while foam makes for pretty layers and patterns, it doesn’t allow for proper homogeny with the coffee and can lead to uneven tastes. As such, you might find that when you head back to the bar to complain your coffee doesn’t have enough foam on it, it might not have been designed to have any in the first place…and you’ll look a bit of a plank.


4 – On Ice

If you order an iced espresso from a quality coffee joint, don’t be too surprised when it’s served to you without any ice at all. The reason being that those in the know are well aware of the fact that to pour hot espresso directly onto ice cubes can wreak havoc with its flavour and leave you with a nasty, bitter taste in your mouth. As such, iced espresso should be made with a little bit of cold water in the cup, into which the espresso is poured. So if there’s no ice in there, it probably means they’ve done it right!


5 – Don’t Fake It

Last but not least, if you really don’t have a clue what you’re doing, then there’s much less shame in asking than pretending – at least this way you’ll get a coffee you can stomach!