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Fed up with with extra foamy cappuccinos or scalding lattes, which taste of burnt milk? Top barista David Huang spills the beans about what we should expect from our daily caffeine fix.

What to order ... flat white, latte, cappuccino?

A flat white is a single shot of espresso, with steamed milk and a thin layer of foam. A cappuccino has a thicker layer of foam and is sprinkled with chocolate or cinnamon. A latte, usually a double shot, is milkier than a flat white or cappuccino and served in a glass with a small head of foam. A short black is a single or double shot of espresso and should have a distinctive reddish-brown crema on the top. Serve it with an equal amount of hot water, in the cup or on the side, and it becomes a long black. A macchiato is a short or long black, topped with a spoonful of milk foam or a short pour of steamed milk. Piccolo lattes are mini lattes made from a single shot of espresso and steamed milk.

How hot should it be?

The temperature of the coffee should be around 60C. If it's too hot to drink, chances are the milk's been over-steamed.

Why is some milk bubbly and frothy?

Because the barista added too much air during steaming.

And the beans?

They should have been roasted within the past two weeks and freshly ground to order.

How long should my coffee take to arrive?

Up to five minutes if the cafe isn't busy, ten minutes if it is. After that, tell the barista you're waiting.

Any regional variations?

In Auckland, a standard flat white or cappuccino has a single shot of espresso. Wellington is generally a double-shot city.

*David Huang co-owns Espresso Workshop, opening next month in St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell.

- Detours, HoS