We've all been 'Starbucks'ed'. Starbucks serves Italian style coffee, but dumbs them down for the general population. If you walked into a cafe in Italy and asked for a 'latte', they'll serve you a glass of milk!
Caffe 'Americano' was created in the 40's during WWII. American soldiers frequenting cafes in France and Italy complained that the espresso was too strong, and it was watered down for them.
Espresso is meant to be drunk 10-15 seconds after brewing. The foam on top of cappuccino and macchiato drinks is meant to reduce the rate of oxidation and keep the espresso below warm for extended drinking. Macchiato has foam only and no milk, and cappuccino is supposed to be 1/3 foam, 1/3 milk, 1/3 espresso. If you're drinking a single-shot cappuccino from a large, full milky cup, the proportions are wrong, and you're drinking basically a foamed up caffe latte!
Milk drinks are meant to be an early morning/breakfast drink. If you asked for a cappuccino or caffe latte after a meal in a restaurant in Italy, the chef may come out to ask if he'd made a mistake preparing your meal, and if you had not eaten your fill!
Coffee is not all about espresso based drinks either, though I am partial to those and own a double-boiler espresso machine. Pour-over coffee is now huge. Read all about it here:
Edited by Nostalgia, 21 April 2014 - 09:28 PM.