Coffee is one of the most widely consumed drinks on the planet. It is nature’s energy drink. A gift by the gods as some say. But if you’re new to the world of coffee and have trouble navigating through it then my friend this is the article that will help you cruise your way through the cafe menu a lot easier. Even if you’re a regular traveler down the coffee route, stick around, you might learn something new.
TYPES OF COFFEE BEANS
It is common knowledge that all types of coffee are made from the beans of coffee plants and they are cultivated in many parts of the world. Beans are sourced from tropical regions of Central America to various regions of Ethiopia, Africa, Vietnam, etc. The region from where beans are sourced affects the taste of the coffee a lot. Although taste varies on the basis of location, there are only four types of coffee.
Arabica is the most widely used coffee bean today extracted from the Coffea Arabica plant. It is sourced from subtropical regions of Ethiopia, Brazil, Mexico, Burundi, Costa Rica, etc. These beans are considered the best among avid coffee lovers due to their balanced taste. Even though taste depends on the roast and is subjective, usually Arabica coffee has chocolate and caramelish notes with slight reminders of fruits and nuts. It is more expensive than its other counterparts.
Robusta coffee comes from the Coffea Canephora plant cultivated in Vietnam, Rwanda, Congo, etc. It was native to African sub-Saharan regions but now the Asian markets are producing it in better quality along with bulk quantity. Robusta beans have a bad reputation for being really bitter and harsh but at the same time retain higher caffeine levels than any other bean. Nowadays they are gaining popularity mainly due to them being a major ingredient of instant coffees. Baristas now also use them in blend with other beans to cater to the customers who want a heavy hit of caffeine.
Considered rare and barely making a meager two percent of the coffee market are the Liberica beans sourced from the Coffea Liberica plants. It is mainly cultivated in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. But surprisingly it is native to Central and West Africa and Liberia (as the name suggests). It has a very low percentage of caffeine and the taste is floral and smoother. Perfect for anyone who has just entered the coffee paradise.
Primarily the Excelsa were considered a different type of coffee beans altogether. But recent research has shown that they are a subtype of Liberica beans. They taste dark and toasty while at the same time fruity and floral. Thus rendering it different from other beans. Their aroma is not very enticing and often disliked by many. They are also native to Central and West Africa but are mainly cultivated in Chad and Southeast Asia. Nowadays its actively being used as a blend with other beans.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF ROASTS FOR COFFEE BEANS
Coffee beans are green when picked and don’t have the aroma and fragrance that they’re known for. They have to go through a process of roasting in order to be used in drinks. There are basically four types of roasts.
1. LIGHT ROASTS
In this type, the roasting is kept light. Due to this, the lightly roasted coffee beans pack a punch of caffeine and acidity. They are usually roasted for the least amount of time at 180-205 degrees Celsius right up till the first crack of the beans. These light-roasted coffee beans usually appear dry because the heat provided is not enough to bring the oils out to the surface.
2. MEDIUM ROASTS
This type of roasting is done a tad bit longer in order to create a balanced coffee. The beans are roasted at 210-223 degrees celsius after the first crack and just before the second. Medium-roasted beans are a tad more flavorful than lightly roasted beans as the heat provided is enough for the oils to form a thin layer. These oils contribute to the wonderful coffee aroma we all love.
3. MEDIUM DARK ROASTS
Beans roasted at a temperature of 225-230 degrees celsius after the second crack are considered as medium-dark roasts. They have a visible oil layer on top. The flavor of these beans is the most preferred among the roasts. They have the perfect balance of aroma, flavor, acidity and caffeine.
4. DARK ROASTS
Dark roasted beans tend to be more sweet, rich and flavorful but at the same time, it compromises on the caffeine kick. These roasts are sweeter than the others because the temperature is maintained at 240-250 degrees celsius which causes caramelization of the sugars in the beans.
TYPES OF COFFEE DRINKS
Now we come to the main course. What is the gibberish written on the menu of the cafe down the street? The types of drinks can be distributed into two main categories. Hot and cold. So, without further ado, we delve into the world of drinks.
COLD COFFEE DRINKS
1. ICED COFFEE
Iced coffee is the simplest of cold coffees. It is one of the most loved as well as there are no complications and the simplicity applies to the taste as well. Take any instant coffee or plain brewed coffee and add a bit of water in an airtight jar, shake it well and top it off with some ice and milk. Done and dusted. Water isn’t used in the case of plain brewed coffee.
2. ICED ESPRESSO
An iced espresso is similar to cold coffee but at the same time, it just isn’t. What a paradox. Right? Well, let me explain. The iced espresso is made by pouring one or two espresso shots over ice. So basically, it is just an “espresso on the rocks”. Usually, iced espressos are served this way but if you’re not afraid of the baristas’ judgments you can ask for a splash of milk and syrup.
3. COLD BREW
This one is a relatively newer invention of coffee aficionados. Cold brews are made by steeping coffee with room temperature water for 12 to 18 hours or even longer. Well! imagine the dedication. Then it is chilled and served. The acidity is low because heat-induced chemical changes don’t occur. Milk, syrups and creams, etc. are used the same as hot coffee.
4. FRAPPUCCINO (FRAPPE)
One of the most popular drinks in the Western hemisphere is the frappuccino. The name of the drink is trademarked by the coffee giant Starbucks but one can find it in any coffee joint under the name of Frappe. Frappes are made by mixing crushed ice, milk, and sweetener and served with a dollop of cream on top. Cinnamon dust and other toppings can be added as well according to taste.
5. NITRO COLD BREW
OK! The coffee scientists have taken their game a step further this time. Nitro cold brew is the next big thing in the coffee world. Inspired by beer it is a cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen gas. It has low acidity and is immensely smooth and the nitrogen makes it creamier and silkier. Nitrogen also improves the taste of sugars.
This drink originated in Mazagran, a coastal town in Algeria. It’s a simple drink, just brew your favorite cup of Java, pour it over ice, add some lemon juice and a lemon wedge and you’re done. Mint, syrups, sweeteners and rum can also be added.
HOT COFFEE DRINKS
1. BLACK COFFEE
Black coffee is your regular cup of “joe” served in offices, hospitals, banks, etc. Black coffee can be prepared by using a coffee machine and this is the easiest method to prepare it. The other method is to grind the beans yourself and then pour hot water over them while filtering the grounds through a cup. This method is often used by die-hard coffee lovers who want a clearer concoction. You can add cream and sugar according to taste.
2. VIETNAMESE COFFEE (cà phê sữa nóng)
Vietnamese coffee is not something you’ll find in every coffee shop. But that doesn’t mean that it is rare to find or difficult to make. All you need is a Vietnamese coffee maker called “phin”, close to boiling hot water and some condensed milk. A Phin is a coffee maker almost similar to the French press. The condensed sweetened milk sits at the bottom of your cup while the coffee is poured over it.
3. TURKISH COFFEE
Enjoyed in the Balkans, Turkey and a few Middle Eastern countries are the signature Turkish coffee. It is the brewing method that distinguishes this coffee from others. The coffee grounds are not filtered in this method. The coffee beans are grounded into a fine powder-like consistency. Then it is heated in the Cezve (a special Turkish utensil for brewing coffee) with water and sugar right till the edge of boiling point. It should not start boiling. This process is repeated a few times before serving. Some people replace water with milk but that depends on personal preference. To each their own right?
4. DECAF COFFEE
Decaf coffee is a term that has been popularized in recent years and is thrown around a lot these days. Decaf is the short version of decaffeinated coffee. It has the same taste and aroma as regular coffee minus the caffeine. Recent studies on caffeine have shed light on the negative aspects of it as well. Thus baristas and coffee experts came up with decaf as a solution for those health-conscious coffee lovers. Caffeine is extracted out of the beans before roasting through the help of solvents. So if you’re someone who is allergic to nervous stimulants like caffeine then there is no need to miss out on your favorite coffee drinks.
5. BULLETPROOF COFFEE
Now, this is a totally new one. It wasn’t invented by some coffee aficionado in some cafe on the streets of Paris or New York rather this was a brainchild of a tech giant vacationing in the mountains of Tibet. There he was offered tea infused with grass-fed organic butter along with some coconut oil. It is more of a diet trend than it is a coffee recipe. The keto experts suggest drinking bulletproof instead of eating breakfast while the critics say it’s harmful as it has so many saturated fats.
Often dubbed as the “Tequila” of coffee drinks, espresso is the most potent and full of flavor. It is made by pressurized hot water through fine coffee grounds. Like Tequila it’s served in shots and used in a mixer in many other coffee drinks as well. The caffeine level in a single shot of espresso can reach up to 100 mg depending on the type of bean used.
7. DOPPIO (DOUBLE ESPRESSO)
Doppio means “double” in Italian. Doppio is just a fancy word for a double shot of espresso. Typical Italians right?
8. RED EYE
The red eye is a working man’s drink. Most popular around university campuses and bustling offices. It is the perfect drink if you’re going to pull an all-nighter or if you are looking for a solid caffeine kick without the luxury of multiple cups of coffee. Red eye is simple drip-brewed coffee infused with a shot of espresso. It’s a strong drink and usually is used to reduce mental fog before getting into the trenches of work.
9. BLACK EYE
A Red Eye can be turned into a Black One by just increasing the shots of espresso in it. This one is a crazy-level super caffeinated drink that is only ordered by those who can tame the caffeine monster.
An Americano is a drink preferred by those who want the Espresso experience but a bit long-lasting. It is a single espresso mixed with hot water. Milk is not used in Americano but you can use it. After all, the taste is subjective.
11. LONG BLACK
The Long Black is an Aussie take on the Americano. The ingredients are the same as those of the American but the quantity of espresso is double. A doppio is used instead of a single shot. So if you’re someone who likes a double shot of espresso instead of a single shot then you’re having a long black.
Macchiato is the Italian word for “marked’ or “spotted”. It is essentially an espresso shot served with a dash of milk, no more no less. A dash of milk is added to increase the sweetness and creaminess of the robust espresso shot. Baristas comment that the macchiatos have slightly lower acidity than an espresso shot as the acidity and bitterness are cut down by the splash of milk which renders a drink that doesn’t compromise on the taste of the coffee and at the same time breaks free the more subtle tone that is a bit difficult to observe in a normal espresso shot.
The name Cortado is derived from the Spanish word “cortar” which means cutting. Basically in this drink milk is used to cut down the bitterness and acidity of an espresso shot. Seems the same as the macchiato, doesn’t it? Here’s the catch. The milk is used in equal parts with the shot. And this is the most essential part that distinguishes the Cortado from the Macchiato
One of the most popular variations of coffee on the planet, cappuccinos are the heartthrob of many coffee lovers. Baristas spend years practicing making the perfect cappuccinos. A basic standard cappuccino has three main ingredients: an espresso shot, steamed milk and topped with milk foam at the top. These ingredients should not be mixed and served should sit atop one another. That’s the recipe for the perfect cup of cappuccino.
Related Read: Cortado vs Cappuccino: Breaking Down the Differences!
15. CAFFE LATTE
Lattes are similar to cappuccinos as long as the ingredients are concerned but what truly sets them apart is the quantity of the ingredients. The espresso shot and the steamed milk are mixed together and topped with a light layer of milk foam. The quantity of steamed milk can increase the espresso shot by a tad bit. But the milk foam is always a thin layer.
16. FLAT WHITE
Flat whites are almost the same as Lattes, espresso shots mixed with steamed milk and topped with some milk foam (1cm). They originated around the same time as the lattes. But nowadays the foam has started to vanish and a lot of cafes are serving it without them. So fundamentally flat whites are lattes minus the foam.
Cafe Mocha or Mocha simply is similar to a Cafe Latte. But mochas have a special ingredient and that is chocolate syrup. This drink basically involves a couple of espresso shots, 10-15 oz of steamed milk and a few pumps of chocolate syrup. Mix them together and serve with a light milk foam topping. It is a heavenly cross between hot chocolate and a latte. So the next time you are at your coffee joint, give it a try.
18. IRISH COFFEE
This one’s the favorite of everyone who loves whisky as much as coffee. Thank the great Irish for bestowing this drink upon us. Irish coffee is made with four ingredients: sugar, espresso, Irish whisky, steamed milk and whipped cream on top. The ingredients are not supposed to mix together. And it’s not Irish coffee if you’re using any other kind of whisky. Only Irish whisky makes Irish coffee.
19. CAFE CUBANO
Cafe Cubano is the Cuban version of espresso. The basic difference between the two is that Cuban espressos are brewed with lots of sugar. This can be done with your regular espresso machine at home. But the traditional way to do it is by using a Moka pot. Brew a concentrated coffee in a coffee pot and add plenty of sugar into a cup then add a minute amount of coffee from the Moka pot and start whipping to the point that cream-like consistency is achieved then add the rest of the brew. Cheers.
This is more of a desert than a coffee. Perfect for those hot summer days when you want your espresso fixed but don’t want the heat associated with it. Then your best option is the Affogato. Get a bowl of vanilla ice cream and pour a shot of espresso over it and dig in. Other flavors of ice cream like salted caramel, chocolate, and praline can also be used.
This article wouldn’t be complete if we don’t mention the major types of coffee makers in it. So here we go.
TYPES OF COFFEE MAKERS
1. DRIP COFFEE MAKERS
The most popular among the coffee makers are the drip coffee makers. Although the options are limited and they can only brew your Joe according to a limited preset option. But still, it’s a great option for your daily caffeine fix.
2. POUR OVER COFFEE MAKERS
This one is for those who want a personalized touch with their coffee. It is basically a utensil that sits over your cup. Filters fit at the bottom of your pour-over the utensil and you fill them with coffee grounds and pour hot water over it.
3. FRENCH PRESS COFFEE MAKERS
Often used by aficionados who like this method because it avoids over-extraction of flavors. Add hot, almost boiling water into the press which already has the coffee grounds and close the lid and let it steep for 4-5 minutes. Then press it before pouring, the wire mesh will push the coffee grounds to the bottom. Enjoy.
Related Read: Keurig Vs French Press: Which One Worth The Money?
4. AEROPRESS COFFEE MAKERS
They work on the same principles as the French presses. But they can make larger batches of coffee, are easier to clean and can make espressos as well as Americanos. But they require more force than french presses.
5. MOKA POTS
These are stovetop pots and the brewing time is relatively lower than other methods. But they require attention to avoid over-extraction and scorching. The coffee produced through these pots is very strong and not everyone likes it.
6. PHIN COFFEE MAKERS
These coffee makers are used to make Vietnamese coffee. They work on the drip method and are placed over a cup. The coffee grounds are loosely filled over the coffee filter and hot water is poured over it and it steeps the coffee and slowly drips over the condensed milk in the cup resulting in an amazing cup of Vietnamese coffee.
7. ESPRESSO COFFEE MAKERS
These are the commercial ones you see your local barista working his magic on. They come with a lot of settings. Only when you know your way around your coffee should you think of buying one.
Now you’re educated enough to order your coffee in the fanciest coffee houses around the world. Cheerios folks and keep slurping.