A simple visit to the coffee shop can tell you everything you need to know about how many variants of coffee there are – you couldn’t count them all even if you tried.
There are so many different brews, beans, and types, that you probably won’t be able to taste them in one lifetime. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try.
In this guide, we will look into the three most commonly consumed types of coffee drinks and a wide range of their sub types.
Simply put, black coffee is a combination of water and coffee without any milk. You should serve it without any added flavors such as honey, cream, and milk. The addition of these products changes the aroma and color of the coffee, turning it lighter-brown or white.
This might seem simple, but you should know that there are various ways to serve this coffee, and each of them influences the taste in different ways. Let’s take a closer look at the most notable black coffee types.
Espresso is a famous type of coffee from Italy. You make it by forcing high-pressure steam through grounded coffee beans. The final product is a thick coffee with a creamy foam on top. Due to its thickness and high level of caffeine per unit, it is often a base for other coffee drinks such as Americano.
Espresso is one of the most popular coffees from Italy that serves as a base for most other coffee types.
Check out our guide on how to make espresso (with our without a machine)
Ristretto, Italian for short, is an espresso shot made like regular espresso but with half the amount of water. The final product is thus a more concentrated shot of espresso with a slightly different taste.
A caffe Americano is an Italian term for American coffee. It is believed that the name comes from the U.S. soldiers in Italy during the 2nd World War, who used water to ration the scarce amounts of espresso available at the time.
The base of the Americano is espresso. A larger amount of hot water is poured over it to make the espresso weaker, turning a small shot of espresso into a large cup of coffee.
Long black has a stronger taste than Americano. You make it by pouring two shots of ristretto or espresso over a smaller amount of water, thus enhancing the taste.
Doppio, or “double” in English, is a double espresso shot. It passes through the portafilter with a double spout. These days, doppio is often considered the standard shot of espresso.
Pour Over Coffee
Pour over coffee is a technique that continuously refreshes the water surrounding the grounded coffee. It includes a filter, a ‘pour over dripper’, and freshly ground coffee. The process comprises three phases, each adding to the coffee’s distinctive quality and taste. These include wetting, dissolution, and diffusion.
As the name suggests, drip coffee involves dripping boiling water over ground coffee. The water passes through the filter and into the pot. It is a slower process than making a regular espresso. However, you’ll get a stronger coffee in the end.
The Batch brew method is the most recent way to serve dark coffee. Instead of old-timer filter coffee machines, modern technology allows cafés to make higher quality filter coffee cheaply and easily.
Matt Perger, a two-time Australian Barista champion, explained reasons for introducing batch brew to his coffee shop in Melbourne.
We needed to use methods that allow us to make as much coffee as possible for as many people as possible without compromising quality.
Instant coffee is one of the simplest coffees to make. You just pour the desired amount of hot water over the coffee powder or crystals and stir until it dissolves.
It has a somewhat longer shelf life than most other coffees and varies in popularity around the world. For example, in Britain, it still accounts for over 70% of all purchased coffee. On the other hand, only 7% of Americans and a mere 1% of the French buy it regularly.
To make this type of coffee, you need to use an AeroPress device. The process looks like this: you place a paper filter or metal filter in the tube, steep the coffee for less than a minute, and then press it through the filter with a plunger. Thanks to the filter that stops oil and sediment from entering the cup, this coffee has a distinctive taste.
The vacuum coffee pot, used to make this coffee type, has a tradition that spans over more than two centuries. The vacuum maker has a lower and upper vessel. Water boils in the lower vessel while the grounds remain in the upper part. The vacuum and the pressure from the heat push the water up and brew the coffee. Once the heating stops, the product falls into the bottom vessel and is ready for serving.
Immersion coffee is made by dipping the grounds into boiling water where they steep for some time, thus enriching the taste. French press coffee is one of the most popular variants of immersion coffee. It is made from coarsely ground beans which are soaked in near-boiling water for no more than five minutes.
Milk Based Coffee
Despite a lot of people opting for one of the black varieties, adding milk to your coffee can provide a special type of aroma. Other than that, baristas enjoy milk-based coffee due to the use of foamed milk which allows them to decorate their coffee in stunning ways.
Milk-based coffee also contains lower concentrations of caffeine and acidity, making it the best coffee for the evening hours (4). Similar to black, milk-based also includes many different types of coffee.
Flat white is a popular milk-based coffee consisting of espresso with a lower amount of steamed milk. The espresso flavor still dominates the aroma, while the milk serves as a supporting taste. Its not the same thing as a white coffee however (which is a coffee bean originating from Yemen.)
Cappuccino also consists of espresso and milk. However, there are two types of milk here. The beverage contains 1/3 of espresso, 1/3 foamed milk, and 1/3 steamed milk. You can serve it iced, hot, with cream instead of milk, and in various other ways.
A Caffè latte is different from cappuccino because it contains a lot of milk, while cappuccino preserves the stronger espresso taste. A Latte is not the same things as a flat white however, which is a common misconception. Flat whites have much less foamed milk/bubbles.
A Latte generally has the ‘milkiest’ aroma out of all milk-based coffees.
Caffè breve, “breve” meaning short in Italian, is an American version of a latte which consists of 1/4 espresso, 1/2 steamed milk, and 1/2 milk foam.
It is a bit thicker than the usual latte due to the steamed half-and-half milk which increases the volume of the foam. It is considered so rich that there is usually no need to add sugar or any other sweetener. Most of the time, it is served as a dessert beverage.
Piccolo latte, or a small latte, is made by pouring warm milk over a ristretto shot. Cafés typically serve it in a short 100ml latte glass, so it is essentially a little milk coffee shot.
There are other names for this coffee, such as Cataldo (Spanish) and Mezzo-Mezzo (Australian).
Since drinking two or three full-sized milk coffees a day can be overwhelming, drinking a few of these smaller caffeinated milk shots can be a perfect replacement.
A Macchiato is a strong coffee shot with just a bit of milk. Originally from Italy (and translating to stain or mark), it’s safe to assume the universal understanding of a macchiato is an espresso shot with a small dash of milk. But depending on where you are in the world and what cup you’re using, you may get something slightly different (5).
Over time, the macchiato has evolved, and people often now request it topped up..It has now been divided into two categories. ‘Traditional’, which is code for a little bit of milk … or ‘topped up’ with steamed milk, like a little mini foamy flat white
Latte macchiato means ”stained milk,” and this beverage is essentially a glass of milk that you ”stain” by pouring espresso over it.
It has the same ingredients as caffè latte but is made and served differently. A perfect latte macchiato comes in a tall glass, and you can clearly see the layers of foam on top, espresso in the middle, and milk on the bottom.
Cortado is an even combination of espresso and steamed milk, with a texture that’s flat compared to the frothy latte, cappuccino, and the likes.
It doesn’t have as much foam, and the ratio of coffee to milk can be between 1:1 and 1:2. It is traditionally served in a unique glass with a metal wire handle and base. The capacity of the glass should be between 150-200ml.
It is very popular in Latin America, Portugal, and Spain.
Gibraltar is the most popular variation of Cortado coffee. It is a cult coffee from San Francisco served in the famous ‘Gibraltar’ glasses. It is a bit colder than a typical Cortado with a wealthier texture.
The typical Gibraltar is made by adding an espresso shot and 85ml of milk to a heated ‘Gibraltar’ glass. However, the main downside with Gibraltar is that the glass can’t maintain the heat, so the coffee cools rather fast. As such, you should drink it quickly for optimal experience.
The Mochaccino is a variety of the cafè latte ( not the same thing, as many people surprisingly believe). It consists of a double espresso shot, foamed milk, and an additional flavor. Usually, the aroma comes from cocoa powder or chocolate syrup. If you want, you can add some cinnamon, whipped cream, or other toppings.
The mocha is like a creamy chocolate coffee – great for beginner coffee drinks as its usually the gateway drink into coffee.
Iced And Cold Coffees
Iced coffee represents a perfect balance of refreshing beverage and soothing coffee aroma. You can make it in two different ways. One way is to brew it cold, which will give it a different flavor, and the other is to make it hot and then cool it with ice, cold milk, or even ice cream.
Cold Brew Coffee
You can make cold brew coffee easily. Just mix ground coffee with cold water, steer it, and leave it in the fridge overnight. After that, strain the mixture to remove the remaining coffee and serve it any way you like.
One of the main traits of cold brew is its lower amount of caffeine.
Caffeine’s solubility is primarily driven by temperature, such that at higher temperatures, significantly more caffeine will dissolve in solution than at cooler temperatures… [if] you are using the same brew-to-water ratios, the cold brew will definitely have less caffeine than hot.
This is a unique cold-served coffee that has a creamy, beer-like feel, especially since it is typically served in a beer keg. The thickness comes from nitrogen, which is infused into the coffee.
Nitrogen is infused into the nitro coffee, thus making it creamy and thick.
Japanese Iced Coffee
This coffee has a special way of brewing. You brew it in hot water and immediately pour it over ice. The contact with ice will help release all the flavors that usually take hours to produce.
To make this refreshing drink, you should brew two shots of espresso and leave them to cool. Later, you need to fill up a 0.2l (approximately 6.7 fl oz) glass with ice, squeeze out some lime juice, and then slowly pour tonic water and espresso shots together.
Strange And Unique Coffees
The aforementioned coffees are most popular, but they mainly originate from the cuisines and cafés of United States and Italy. However, there are various other cultures that brew unique and distinctive aromas. Here are some of the strangest and most unique coffees in the world.
To prepare a proper Turkish coffee, you need finely ground coffee beans and a traditional Turkish pot called cezve. Heat the water and sugar in the cezve until it boils, and then put the ground coffee inside. You can quickly reheat it to achieve the desired froth. It is unfiltered, which means that the remnants of coffee powder also end up in the cup.
Vietnamese coffee is typically dripped through a small Vietnamese metal filter. You can serve it hot or cold with sweetened milk.
Egg coffee is also a Vietnamese beverage, where egg yolks are beaten until they become creamy and then added to the coffee and sugar along with condensed milk. There is also a Swedish variant of this drink that is prepared in much the same way but doesn’t include milk.
Bulletproof coffee is a mix of brewed coffee, coconut oil, and unsalted butter. It is very popular with people who are on a high-fat, low-carb diet and can serve as a substitute for breakfast. However, this is not recommended as your body won’t receive all the important nutrients it needs for the day.
Similar to bulletproof coffee, butter coffee consists of brewed coffee, unsalted butter, and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs, which are easily digested by the human body, are readily available in stores in the form of oil that is added to the coffee.
What is cascara coffee? It’s more of a tea than a regular coffee. Instead of making it with coffee beans, you use coffee cherry leaves, which are good at relieving digestive problems and constipation.
Kopi Luwak is probably not for everyone. It comes from the feces of Asian palm civet, a small viverrid that eats coffee cherries. The cherries ferment during digestion, and then Kopi Luwak farmers collect them. It’s deemed as an exotic coffee with absurdly high prices.
Kopi Luwak is a distinctive coffee that is produced from the feces of small viverrids from South Asia.
Kopi luwak is one of many poop coffees.
Geisha coffee is an Ethiopian coffee with a unique aroma and flavor. It is currently one of the most expensive coffees in the world, reaching a price of $803 per pound in March 2019. We go into detail about this strange, expensive coffee.
Affogato is a specialty from Italy consisting of a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a glass with a shot of hot espresso poured over it. There are also versions of the drink that add a shot of amaretto or some other alcoholic beverage.
Irish coffee mixes hot coffee, whiskey, and sugar. It is one of the most popular derivatives of regular coffee in the world. We show you how to make an authentic Irish coffee in this recipe walkthrough.
All these types of drinks are only the tip of the iceberg. With coffee being an important part of worldwide cultures and history, you will always get to find a new variation that you have never heard before. Hopefully, this article has helped you discover some new varieties of your favorite drink. But remember – this is just a start.