There’s certainly a coffee drink for everyone if you know where to look and what you like!
Go to any coffee shop and you will quickly see that there is a wide and varied menu from shop to shop and certainly within a menu. From black coffee to lattes to Americanos, from iced coffee to frappes to coffee desert drinks, the range of options that people have is huge and grows steadily as people experiment more with different ways of brewing coffee, different combinations, and different flavors.
In this introductory piece to everything coffee, we want to help you learn about the many varieties of caffeinated drinks you have at your disposal. If you’ve ever wondered about some of those drinks on the menu boards, we hope to have the answers for you in our colorful and broad guide to all different types of coffee!
Types of Brewing
Before we even get into the many different types of drinks, it’s important to consider different types of brewing. Brewing style alone can change the flavor profile of your drink and change what other things you may want to add to it, so it’s important to think about. And if you’re making coffee at home, your style of brewing will dictate the type of equipment you need to have, so it’s all pretty important!
There are six main types of brewing that are used:
Drip brew is probably the form that most people are the most familiar with when it comes to coffee. In this type of brewing, ground coffee is put into a basket and then put into an automatic machine. Water is passed through the grounds and you end up with coffee.
By far of course, this is the way most people make their coffee at homes. Drip brewing machines are plentiful, and they can be cheap or very fancy (or anywhere in between). You can get little pots to brew one cup of coffee or giant machines that can brew coffee for tens of people at a time!
Drip brew coffee machines also take a huge range of ground coffee, so you can really choose what you want. The main issue with drip brew is that it’s easy to accidentally scorch your coffee with pots that are on for too long, the coffee flavor may not be as rich as other methods and coffee grounds that are left in the filter for too long can go moldy! On the other hand, it’s fast and easy and you can fully control the strength of your coffee by controlling how much grounds and water you use.
Pour over is a bit of a stranger way of making coffee compared to what many people think of, but it’s considered a great way to brew coffee, particularly for one or two people. Pour over coffee is done by slowly pouring hot water over the coffee grounds that are placed in a filter through an upper chamber that is usually shaped like a cone. The brewed coffee collects in a bottom chamber. Basically, you take over what automatic coffee machines do, giving you more control.
When done properly, this method creates a rich cup that can be customized to your desires since you are fully involved in every part of it. This means that once you figure it out, you’ll probably never want to go back to any other method of making coffee. But this way of brewing coffee does require a lot of practice, it’s not easy to do while half asleep and it’s certainly not intended for brewing coffee for a crowd.
Cold brew (not to be confused with iced coffee which a coffee drink that is sometimes made with cold brew). Cold brew coffee is brewed by steeping medium or course ground coffee in room temperature water for twelve hours and then filtering out the grounds! Cold brew is never exposed to heat and instead uses the simple method of being left alone for twelve hours to extract all the flavors of the coffee bean. Cold brew coffee can then be drunk on its own or used as a base for other drinks, depending on what you want to do with it.
Cold brew coffee takes time, but it’s easy to do and a great way to get a cup of coffee that is low in acidity and smooth and rich. It’s not very fiddly at all and you can create some truly Instagram worthy drinks at a fraction of the cost of buying at a coffee shop.
Espresso forms the base of many coffee drinks such as mochas. It can be brewed at home as well, but it does require more specialized equipment that takes up quite a bit of space. Still, if you’re looking for a jolt of caffeine in a small cup, (or the base of many other drinks), then it’s worth the investment. Espresso usually has a creamy top and a much stronger flavor. People think that espresso has more caffeine in it which isn’t quite true because it’s in a smaller cup than a brewed coffee in a mug meaning that overall, it actually has less caffeine.
Espresso is made by pressurizing nearly boiling water through finely ground coffee beans and creates a small, but highly caffeinated drink. Espresso is thicker than regular coffee and often has a foamy top. In coffee shops, a good espresso machine is critically important to move beyond making simple coffee drinks into a broader menu. Many people at home enjoy making their own espresso as well to drink whenever they like or to create their own coffee drinks and save a bit of money (in the long run since the initial investment of an espresso maker can be quite costly, depending on brand and quality). Since the machines now do most of the work, it’s not hard to make an espresso, though it may require some practice to get to know your machine.
French press coffee is made by pouring water over ground coffee, letting it steep, and then ‘pressing’ the grounds out. After drip coffee, it’s considered to be one of the easiest and quickest ways to make coffee, though it still requires some practice so that you don’t make it too strong or too weak. French press coffee is also good because it can be used to make a few cups of coffee instead of just one like pour over. French press coffee can be more bitter and oily than other coffee though since the coffee and the grounds are muddled together for a while which can change the flavor.
To make a really good cup of French press coffee, it’s worth the investment into a burr grinder which creates evenly ground coffee and to use water that has been boiling and then taken off the burner for one minute before pouring into the grounds.
The other big advantage of a French press is that the press doesn’t take up a lot of space, making it ideal for tiny kitchens or to take with you when you travel.
We don’t necessarily endorse this method of brewing coffee, but if you have to have your jolt! And hey, some people make a fairly good cowboy coffee with practice, so we certainly wouldn’t tell people to never do it.
Cowboy coffee is made by putting coffee grounds into a boiling pot of water and letting it boil for a period of time and then carefully pouring it, so you don’t get grounds in your cup. It’s easy, but you probably won’t get a fabulous cup of coffee for your trouble and you may end up drinking grounds with your morning cup! On the other hand, it requires nothing more than a pot for specialized equipment and it’s easy to do.
In order to make cowboy coffee, you have to bring your water to a rolling boil and then let it cool for a minute. Stir in the coffee and then return your kettle or pot to heat and bring the coffee to a simmer. Remove the coffee from the heat and steep it for two minutes, then stir and steep for another two minutes. Then pour it carefully!
Types of Coffee Drinks
Now that you have an idea of different brewing styles, we can look at a bunch of different coffee drinks. Some of them you probably know about and maybe others you’ve heard of but wondered what they actually were. We’re here to help!
We’ve divided this off into three sections: hot drinks, cold drinks and a few regional drinks that you may have heard of and always wondered what they could be.
What’s your favorite?
Hot Coffee Drinks
Latte: Latte, or Café latte, is a combination of espresso, milk and frothed milk. A proper latte has this in proper proportions-that is, one third espresso, two thirds steamed milk and at least one centimeter of foam. In fact, there are quite stringent guidelines about how a proper Italian Latte is prepared as opposed to other lattes.
Lattes should be served in an 8oz cup/glass with a shot of espresso (30mL), with steamed milk poured over that and a thick foam. The flavor is pretty similar to a cappuccino, but cappuccino has a thicker foam cap.
Mocha: A café mocha is made with a combination of hot chocolate and cappuccino. Hot chocolate powder or syrup is mixed with an espresso shot and then both are mixed with steamed milk, foam and whipped cream. Mochas are otherwise similar to lattes, but the hot chocolate cuts some of the bitterness of the espresso and gives it a sweeter flavor. It can also be served with marshmallows, cinnamon powder, chocolate powder, or other add-ons like flavored syrups. Mochas are an American coffee drink and are now found all over the place.
Americano: An Americano is a type of coffee drink that is similar to a Turkish coffee, but not necessarily with filtered water and sugar; instead, Americanos are just made using water. The coffee is brewed by adding hot water to espresso. This gives it the same caffeine strength as an espresso shot (or up to five shots!), but with a different flavor. The flavor and strength will depend on how many espresso shots are added and how much hot water is used. In general, this is quite a strong drink and can be quite bitter unless you decide to add syrup or sugar.
Cappuccino: Cappuccino is another Italian drink and it too follows fairly stringent guidelines for an authentic cappuccino. Cappuccinos are made by mixing a double shot of espresso with steam milk foam or cream foam. Steamed milk is poured atop the espresso and then topped with whipped cream or thick foam. To be truly authentic, there should be 150mL of espresso and 180mL of milk. Cappuccinos tend to be served in a smaller cup than lattes, but with more froth. They can also have whipped cream or chocolate powder.
Red Eye/Black eye: Red eye or black eye coffee (or dead eye even) was named for taking the ‘red eye’ flights which crossed the North American continent overnight (West Coast to New York and staying awake for it) and landed early in the morning. Black eye comes from the appearance of a black marking on the drink that is caused by pouring a shot through the top of a cup of coffee with cream. This type of drink can also be referred to as a Canadiano if the drip coffee is added to the espresso rather than the espresso adding to the drip.
This type of coffee drink is made by combining espresso with normal drip coffee, giving you a real punch of caffeine. Red eye coffee is made with a single shot of espresso while the black eye is made with two shots and the dead eye is made with three shots. It’s a strong drink and it will definitely keep you up!
Macchiato: A macchiato is an espresso made with a dash of milk. The name actually means marked, stained or spotted-in other words, the marks the milk will make when it’s added to the espresso. Macchiatos tend to have the strong flavor of an espresso but is creamier. An authentic macchiato only has a splash of milk; any more than that and it’s closer to a latte. You can find variations though, including macchiato lattes, macchiato with extra flavoring or ‘long’ macchiatos which have a double shot of espresso and more milk. Other modern examples include the ever-famous caramel macchiato, popularized by Starbucks.
Cortado: Cortado is a popular drink in Spain, Latin America and Portugal as an afternoon pick me up. This is a combination of espresso and steamed milk. Unlike many other Italian coffee drinks, the milk is steamed, but not frothed; it’s mostly there to cut the acidity of the espresso. The name cortado is the past tense of cortar, meaning ‘to cut’ and in this case, dilute. It would be harder to find a cortado in the US or Canada, but some speciality coffee shops may serve it or may be able to make it should you ask.
Breve: Breve coffee is similar to a latte, but the differences matter. Breves and lattes are both made with espresso and steamed dairy, but in the case of a breve, it’s made with half and half and topped with milk foam. Half and half create a thicker, fattier foam that is fluffier and lighter than a latte. Breves are actually more commonly seen as a desert drink because of this fluff foam! Some people also call Breve the American version of the latte.
Flat White: A flat white, seen all over different coffee shops and really popular in Starbucks, is espresso combined with microfoam. Microfoam is steamed milk that is steamed to have small, fine bubbles, giving it a velvet consistency. Flat whites are similar to lattes, but have less foam and more coffee, giving it a stronger flavor. An authentic flat white should have a thin layer of microfoam, a meniscus at the top to give it a dark brown color and a thickness that causes a ripple mark when the drink is consumed. Flat white is not frothy and uses a short shot of espresso to prevent it from being too harsh.
Café au Lait: Café au lait translates to coffee with milk, but it’s not the same as coffee with cold milk or whiteners. Café au lait is hot coffee with hot milk mixed in. It’s best made with dark coffee and heated milk; in cafes, it’s made with espresso and steamed milk. Another difference is that café au lait is often served in a white porcelain glass or bowl rather than in a kitchen glass like a latte. It may not seem like much a difference, but the flavor of café au lait is different from other drinks, as is the traditional French tradition of serving it in a café au lait bowl rather than a cup.
Cold Coffee Drinks
When people think of coffee, they tend to think of hot coffee, but there are a few cold coffee drinks that are rather good too, especially on a hot day!
Affogato: Affogato is a desert coffee that is a combination of espresso, milk, and gelato. It’s served with a double shot of espresso and a large scoop of vanilla ice cream. The espresso is actually poured over a scoop of ice cream in a glass of milk! The word Affogato means ‘drowned’ which is what you’re doing when you drown your ice cream and espresso in what ends up being steamed milk. Affogato drinks are growing in popularity all over the world because they can be customized with syrups and they are great on a hot summer day.
Frappuccino: Frappuccino or ‘frappes’ were popularized by Starbucks. Frappes are made with a coffee or crème base that is blended with ice and other ingredients and then topped with whipped cream and syrups. The word comes from the French drink “lait frappe” which is a milkshake with ice cream, juxtaposed with cappuccino. Frappuccinos can be decaf, crème based instead of coffee, and ones made from soy. There are many customized versions know with things like chocolate chips, brownie pieces, sprinkles, flavored powdered, light or extra ice, extra syrups and so on.
While frappuccinos are trademarked under Starbucks, you will likely find variations in other coffee shops over the summer months, though they often have a different name. There are also many recipes out there to let people make them at home.
Iced coffee: Iced coffee is not to be confused with cold brew; they are not the same thing at all! (Although iced coffee can be made with cold brew, but most people probably wouldn’t bother). Iced coffee is made from formally hot coffee which is cooled by pouring it over ice or into ice cold milk. If there are any flavors, they are added to the hot coffee before being cooled. Syrups may also be used. This is wildly different from cold brew coffee which is coffee that is brewed in room temperature or colder water and is often left to brew for quite a long time.
Some Regional Coffee Drinks
Of course, these, at heart, are one of the drinks we’ve already discussed, but the name may not be familiar to you! These are just a few examples of regional coffees; wherever you go, you’ll find some more.
What’s a Double-Double?
Go to any Tim Hortons or anywhere in Canada, and you’ll hear a call for a ‘double-double’. A double-double is a black coffee with two sugars and two creams. So, here’s to the humble double-double with a donut; long may Tim Hortons reign.
What’s a Turkish Coffee?
There are plenty of regional coffee drinks, but a famous one is the Turkish coffee which shows up in movies, television shows, and books, as well as all over the middle east. Turkish coffee is prepared coffee using finely ground coffee beans and is unfiltered. The coffee beans must be very finely ground, and they are left in the coffee while the coffee is served. It’s made by bringing the coffee and water, plus usually sugar, to a boil using a special pot. Once it starts frothing, it is removed from the heat. Sometimes it can be reheated to make it good and frothy! The coffee is then slowly served into small porcelain cups. While most people wouldn’t want to drink coffee grounds, in this case, it’s perfectly normal to drink the powdered grounds.
What’s a Café Bombón?
This was a neat one that I ran across! Café Bombón is espresso served with sweet condensed milk in a 1:1 ratio. There’s also an Asian version which uses ground coffee and sweetened condensed milk (still a 1:1 ratio). The drink is served in a glass to create a cool visual because the sweetened condensed milk is slowly added and allowed to sink beneath the coffee to create an interesting color effect. Before drinking it though, it’s usually all stirred together, or it wouldn’t taste particularly good! Café Bombóns can be easily made at home since it’s literally half espresso or coffee and half sweetened condensed milk.
So, there you have it: so many coffee drinks to try! We will have more on these drinks throughout the site and we hope that you’ll tell us all about your favorites too. Coffee is one of those things that you can be as simple or as innovative as you like with it and so create many different drinks. Enjoy all the coffee drinks!
Is Chemex Better Than French Press?
Both coffee-making methods typically take less than eight minutes from bean to brew. Is chemex better than french press? Read our article for more.
Does Ground Coffee Lose Caffeine Over Time?
Does ground coffee lose caffeine over time? Read our article if you want to find out more.
Can You Use Distilled Water for Coffee?
Distilled water though does prevent mineral buildup in coffee machines. Can you use distilled water for coffee? Read our article for more.