Don't be in an outcast in the trendy coffee shop. Here's how you can totally blag it

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Image: Here's how to convince a coffee snob you're one of them

Via giphy

'Have you seen the microfoam on this thing, I've got to instagram this' – you

Like it or lump it (no, not sugar lumps, they overpower the taste of the coffee you lunatic) coffee culture has reached an absolute hipster high-point. For the beard-stroking Instagrammers of the country this hot drink is not a thing you do to get you through the first hour of the day, it's a transcendental cultural experience.


Sometimes just knowing what everyone is banging on about can be a bit of a nightmare, but Lord knows you don't want to be the twerp who didn't know what ground Ethiopian beans to buy for the percolator (seriously what does that thing even do?). With the London Coffee Festival just on the horizon, here's a handy (sort of) guide to help you fake it with the best of them.


Trigger warming: will infuriate true aficionados.

Be incredibly over-familiar

It doesn't matter that you have spent the last 15 minutes outside the coffee shop being perplexed by its inhabitants, take a deep breath and bounce in there like you own the place. Ask the "barista" for "the usual" and when they look at you confused just ask him if he's got any "cold brew" on the go. Plug yourself into the wifi, pretend you're writing a novel or something. 


Coffee that costs over 3 quid a pop is also unbelievably strong. Know this when you make your order, or you'll be tearing napkins into strips and scrawling algorithms on the walls, your heart pounding in your chest. You don't want to make things awkward for your new coffee friends.

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coffee lobsters

YouTube Via GQ

Order a 'cortado' in a really confident voice

Just as you can't tell the Emperor he is naked, you definitely can't tell him his coffee all tastes the same. You might not be able to taste the blindest bit of difference between a flat white and a latté but it's very important to the coffee community that you seem like you do. Trip up and you're toast. 

When it comes to frothy coffee it's all in the name. Here is a shorthand glossary to stop you from totally tossing it up. You must never ever show this to a coffee snob because I value my life.


Latte: Milky coffee

Piccolo: Small milky coffee served by a trendy barista

Flat white: Slightly less milky than a latté

​​Cortado: Tiny latte

Macchiato: Espresso with a bit of froth on to

Ristretto: Bit less than a shot of espresso that everyone says is better than espresso 

Cubano: A sweet espresso


If it all goes Pete Tong just distract the barista by telling him a loud story about how you recenty saw a sign advertising EXpressos at a coffee shop. Imagine! How mortifying! 

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Linh Nguyen / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: lng0004

'Ah yes,' you will say 'this is the cortado I ordered, lovely cortado my favourite, so different to all the other coffees.'

Say you love 'cupping' with a totally straight face 

In most normal realms of life if you went around boasting about how much you love cupping, people would call the police on you. But in the coffee world everything is very serious. A cupping is basically a wine tasting, except instead of getting drunk you are likely to become a lot more productive.


In talk of other coffee shops be careful not to utter the dreaded words "Starbucks" or "Costa" lest you be carried from the establishment by the scruff of your neck.

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Beware of the traps

If negotiating your way around the ordering process isn't tricky enough then are a number of etiquette sinkholes you are in danger of falling into. For example, if you order an espresso and it comes with a glass of water beware: this is a trap. Do not say, "oh thank you but I didn't order a glass of water" because you will be given a stare so cold and steely it will turn your coffee to ice.


If you order a milky number like a latté and it's a bit er, lukewarm beware: this is also a trap. Definitely don't ask for it a bit hotter unless you want a 15-minute lecture about overheating beans.

YouTube Via Nacho Mist

Say something edgy and against the grain 

There's nothing a coffee snob loves more than to go to coffee shops and complain about things. It's so much more fun than just enjoying a hot beverage in the comfort of your own home. To preserve your cover as a novice, say something super disruptive like "are these beans Ethiopian fair trade?" Ask some questions you categorically don't understand like "is this cold press" or "what power grinder are you using?" then nod like you understand the answers.


If you're feeling seriously disruptive, hold your coffee aloft and say, "I'm getting a lot of acidity in this blend." It will cause chaos.

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When in the home, act natural around the Aeropress

There are about 300 different contraptions you can use to make coffee. Some of them look like teapots and spaceships. ​If you're at someone's house and they go to make you a cup of coffee and they plonk some massive thing that looks like a syringe on top of your mug, just act like you see them all the time. When they hand you your coffee close your eyes and say something educated like "great roast, is this a Sumatran blend?"


And there you have it. All you need to do now is buy a fedora and a fixed gear bike and you're in the club!

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Pål-Kristian Hamre / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: pkhamre

"Oh yaaaah I've got two of these things I totally know to use at home"

Thirsty for more coffee buzz? Try these: 

The science behind the perfect up of coffee

11 of the coolest coffee shops you can show off your knowledge in

23 folks who are taking lattés beyond seriously