Whether you need a cup to get your day started or love to enjoy the drink all day long, coffee is the main staple for most people. To help you understand all the fascinating types of coffee there are, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide.
Want to know more about coffee? Have a favorite drink, but are interested in trying new ones? The good news is that there is an almost endless list of possibilities when it comes to coffee. To get to know this popular drink more, start at the beginning.
There are four main types of coffee beans: Arabica, Robusta, Liberica and Excelsa. From there, you can classify your coffee drink into hot and cold options.
Finally, your coffee journey isn’t complete unless you have the right coffee maker for the job. Once all the pieces of this delicious puzzle are put together, the result will be a satisfying cup that will keep you smiling all day long.
Different Types of Coffee Beans
If you’re not into coffee, it can seem like the choices are overwhelming. And while the types of coffee drinks are certainly endless, the types of beans are actually rather straightforward and include just four different types.
Perhaps the most well-known type of coffee bean, Arabica beans make up 60% of the world’s coffee. These beans require high altitudes and an environment that provides plenty of shade and a steady amount of rainfall.
Arabica trees are easy to prune as they are on the smaller size and are usually less than 6 feet in height.
While Arabica trees have some great attributes, the beans take a lot of effort to farm. They need the right balance of growing conditions; otherwise, they can become susceptible to disease and rot.
Arabica beans are so popular because of their satisfying taste. They are beans with a bright body and just the right amount of acidity.
While you can create most coffee drinks with Arabica beans, they are best in hot drinks and not cold ones.
As its name suggests, Robusta coffee beans are quite robust and hardy. They are the second most popular coffee beans.
Robusta coffee beans prefer hot climates that have very little rainfall, although they do not require the near-perfect conditions that Arabica beans do in order to thrive. They also don’t often become diseased.
What makes Robusta coffee beans really stand out is that amount of caffeine they have. At almost double the amount of Arabica beans, this is a coffee that will really wake you up in the morning.
When you drink Robusta coffee, you will notice a smooth texture, a heavy body, and low acidity. It is best when paired with milk and sugar and is perfect in an iced coffee.
Liberica beans are less popular than Arabica and Robustica, although this is more of a situation of circumstances. While it was once incredibly popular in the late 1890s, it took a full century to become well-known again.
A distinguishing feature of Liberica coffee beans is their large shape that are often asymmetrical. They give off fruity and floral notes and often produce a smoky taste.
While some people have fallen in love with Liberica coffee beans, their very distinguishable taste has proven to be too extreme for most.
You might not have heard of Excelsa coffee beans, but they actually represent about 7% of the world’s coffee bean production. They are similar to Liberica trees, thanks to their immense height; however the taste is quite different.
Grown in Southeast Asia, Excelsa coffee beans are often used in blends to provide a higher level of complexity. You may taste notes of fruit or tartness with these beans, although the coffee is so rich it takes quite a few sips to pin down the taste.
Types of Coffee Drinks
Now that you have an idea about what type of coffee beans exist in the world, it’s time to perfect your order. Whether you have a favorite or want to explore something more, here are some popular coffee drinks that every barista will be able to make for you.
These hot coffee drinks will be sure to delight your senses. While most are ordered in coffee shops, with the right machine, you can actually replicate them at home.
Once a staple in the coffee world, black coffee is now a bit of an abnormality. Black coffee is just plain coffee. It doesn’t have any milk or sugar in it, and certainly doesn’t have any fancy extras.
For those that want to start drinking coffee, but aren’t quite sure about the taste, a latte is a good introduction.
To make a latte, 1 shot of espresso is mixed with 8 to 10 ounces of steamed milk. To top it off, a bit of foam is also added.
One of the more popular coffee drinks, cappuccinos are beloved the world around. To make it, combine 1 or 2 shots of espresso with 2 ounces of steamed milk and 2 ounces of foamed milk.
The result is a soothing drink that will ease you into the day. If you want to be fancy, you can even sprinkle a bit of chocolate on top.
While the origins may be traced back to World War II, this drink came about when people would order an espresso but want to then water it down to extend their drinking.
An Americano is 1 shot of espresso mixed with 3 ounces of hot water. You can make it a double if you want the extra caffeine and flavor.
If you need a quick pick-me-up, an espresso is the way to go. This coffee is made from 1 ounce of highly concentrated coffee.
Finely ground cofee is compacted in a small holder. Then, very hot water is forced through to create the end result.
If you really need to wake up, you can order a double espresso. While most people call it a double espresso when they order this drink, it also goes by the name of doppio, which in Italian means double.
If you enjoy an espresso but want it a bit smoother, you can order a Cortado. With this drink, 1 ounce of warm milk is added to 1 shot of espresso. To top it off, a bit of foam is added.
If you catch a plane that leaves at night and arrives the next morning, this is referred to as a red eye flight. It’s named after the fact that you probably won’t get much sleep and therefore will have red eyes when you land.
Red eye coffee understands this plight. When you order the drink, you will receive a standard 6-ounce cup of coffee along with a shot of espresso, in order to really wake you up.
Created in Portugal, a Galao coffee is similar to a latte. It is quite sweet, so may not appeal to everyone.
To make a Galao, combine 1 shot of espresso with 3 ounces of steamed milk. A bit of sugar is usually added and there is foam on the top.
In Italian, the word lungo means long. The name here refers to the fact that more water is used in this drink, making it larger in volume, and taking longer for you to drink it.
A Lungo is made similar to an espresso except that double the amount of water is used to create the final drink. It therefore takes longer for a barista to make this drink.
In Italian, macchiato means stain, and with this drink, it refers to the design that appears after steamed milk is poured into an espresso.
To create this drink, 1 shot of espresso is poured into a larger cup and then 1 or 2 teaspoons of steamed milk are poured in. You can also add flavor syrups to further personalize this drink.
If you can’t decide between a coffee and a hot chocolate, a mocha is a nice compromise. It combines 1 shot of espresso, 1 to 3 ounces of steamed milk, and 1 to 2 ounces of chocolate sauce.
To give it a bit of extra flair, whipped cream is added onto the top, along with either chocolate sprinkles or syrup.
Most people know that an espresso is highly concentrated coffee, but if you are looking for something even more substantial, a ristretto will really knock your socks off.
A ristretto is when you put pressurized water through concentrated coffee grounds. You just use half the amount of water that you would with an espresso.
Originating from Australia and New Zealand, a flat white is another popular drink with espresso at its core. It mixes 1 shot of espresso with 4 ounces of steamed milk.
The emphasis should be on smooth and creamy with this drink, so milk froth is avoided at all costs.
Another Australian drink, a long black is most similar to an Americano. However, it has a stronger taste to it and is not usually recommended for beginner coffee drinkers.
You can start with either a double shot of espresso, or a more concentrated, ristretto shot. While an Americano has water poured over the shot, a long black has the espresso poured over the water.
Ready for dessert and a coffee? How about together? An affogato combines these two into one tasty treat.
To make an affogato, combine 1 shot of espresso with 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you want to stay up a bit later, you can even add an extra shot of espresso.
Cafe au Lait
While the majority of coffee drinks have a shot of espresso as their base, a café au lait uses fresh brewed coffee from a French press instead.
You want a 50-50 ratio between two ingredients. Most often this is 5 ounces of French press coffee and 5 ounces of scalded milk.
To warm up on a cold winter’s evening, an Irish coffee might be the way to go. Just remember that this is strictly for adults.
To make an Irish coffee, combine 4 ounces of drip coffee, 1 ounce of Irish whiskey, and a small amount of brown sugar. Then, on the top add 1 ounce of fresh cream.
While cold coffee isn’t that appealing if it’s been sitting around all morning, choosing to create a cold coffee drink is another story. These refreshing drinks are perfect anytime you want.
As its name suggests, iced coffee is coffee that has ice in it.
Start with 2 ounces of drip coffee and add 4 ounces of ice. Then, add 4 ounces of cold water.
You can substitute the water with milk if you prefer a creamier texture. Furthermore, you can also substitute the drip coffee with a shot of espresso if you want a stronger boost of caffeine.
Iced espressos are very simple to make and a perfect summer afternoon drink.
Start with 1 or 2 ounces of espresso. Cool this down, either by adding cold milk or placing it in the fridge. Finally, add some ice cubes and start sipping.
You might think cold brew coffee is just coffee that is chilled, but actually the entire process is done at room temperature.
Start with coarse coffee grinds, and then add room temperature water. The coffee should steep for about 12 hours. This can be done at room temperature or in the fridge.
Once it is ready, strain the coffee and pour it over ice cubes. The result is a strong drink that is perfect for the summer.
Some drinks are so iconic, you know exactly where they originated from. While Frappuccinos can now be found everywhere, they originated at Starbucks.
To make a Frappuccino, combine 4 to 6 ounces of drip coffee with 4 ounces of ice. You can really customize your Frappuccino and add a wide range of syrups. It is usually finished with a healthy dollop of whipped cream.
Newly popular, nitro coffee is a bit of a science experiment. Start with cold brew coffee and then add nitrogen bubbles.
The result is a thick, frothy beverage that you might just mistake for a pint of Guinness. The only downside is that it is extremely hard to make at home.
This refreshing coffee drink uses a few extra ingredients for a delightful taste. It originated from Algeria although there are Portuguese and Austrian versions, as well.
The original drink is made by brewing a strong pot of coffee. It is poured hot right over ice cubes and a separate glass of water is often served with it so you can adjust the taste yourself.
In Portugal, the drink is often served with lemon and sometimes with rum and sugar syrup. In Austria, the drink is served with just one ice cube along with rum and is drunk more like a shot.
Uncommon Coffee Drinks
Want to impress your fellow coffee lovers? Order one of these unique drinks from your barista, or better yet, learn to make them yourself.
In Italian, this drink means a baby latte. Instead of an espresso shot, start with a ristretto shot. Then add 5 to 6 ounces of steamed milk.
This might be a small-looking drink but it still packs a punch of caffeine.
Founded in a coffee shop in San Francisco, this drink is very easy to make. Simply start with a double shot of espresso and add 1 ounce of milk.
The point of this drink is that the cold milk cools the hot espresso just enough so that you can quickly get your caffeine hit and move on to the next task.
Steamer or Babyccino
Need to stop into the local coffee shop for a pick-me-up, but worried your child will be asking for a treat, too? A steamer or babyccino is an easy, yummy drink, to satisfy kids of all ages.
This drink is perfect for kids as it has no caffeine in it. It is usually just steamed milk, although a flavored syrup can also be added if your child likes things a bit sweeter.
If you’re a fan of Irish coffee and want another option in this persuasion, the correto might be the way to go. It takes a shot of espresso and adds a bit of alcohol to it.
The fun part is that you can choose which type of alcohol that is. Popular choices include cognac, sambuca, and grappa.
Types of Coffee Makers
Now that you know what kinds of coffee drinks are, it’s important to have the right equipment to make them. These popular coffee makers will help you craft that perfect cup.
A French press is making a comeback thanks to its simplicity. It can be used at home or camping and doesn’t require any fancy machinery.
To use a French press, start with coarse grounds, then place them and boiling water into the cannister. Stir and let the coffee bloom for a few moments. Then, press the top plunger down to capture the grinds.
French presses will not keep coffee hot, so you will need to drink immediately. They also can only make 3 or 4 cups of coffee at a time.
Once a staple of every household, percolators have now been replaced by fancier machines. Percolators work by boiling water and then combing the water with coffee grounds.
The problem, or benefit, depending on who you ask, is that the coffee can become quite strong if a percolator is allowed to run for too long.
Also known as pod coffee makers, single serve coffee makers are perfect if you just want one cup of coffee. There are many popular brands of coffee makers that specifically use pods.
To make a cup of coffee, simply insert your pod of choice, press a button and wait a few minutes. Single serve pods come in many different types and flavors and you can often find combo packs to try out new drinks.
Thankfully, most pods are now recyclable as they produce a lot of waste from their packaging.
An AeroPress coffee maker sort of looks like it comes from the future. It is similar to a French Press in that you have to add the coffee grounds and water yourself, before pressing down to make the coffee.
The biggest difference is that you use a paper filter with the AeroPress. With this device, you can also make an espresso.
Just about every household has had a drip coffee maker at least once. These coffee makers have an area to place coffee grounds as well as a canister to fill with water.
Then, simply turn the machine on and it will work its magic, heating the water and slowly dripping freshly brewed coffee into a carafe.
Drip coffee makers can create anywhere from 2 to 10 cups and can have many options, including an automatic ON function.
Now that coffee is becoming an artisanal drink again, old methods are being rediscovered, including pour over coffee.
This method requires a special glass coffee carafe that is narrow at the top to hold a filter, or a filter insert. Place a filter inside and add your desired amount of coffee grinds. The coffee should be finely ground or medium ground.
Finally, pour boiling water over the grounds. You will want to do this slowly so there aren’t any spills and the water has enough time to meld with the coffee grounds and drip into the carafe.
Cold brew coffee is quickly gaining popularity. While you don’t actually need a coffee maker, and can actually just use any jar or jug, there are many vessels marketed for cold brew coffee that you can purchase.
If you’re of a certain, younger age, you probably aren’t familiar with a moka coffee maker. Founded in the 1930s, this is a stove-top design that is not often used anymore.
To create coffee, water is boiled and steam-pressurized. It is then passed through coffee grounds to create the desired results.
The world of coffee is complex and varied. Hopefully this comprehensive guide has shone a bit of light on the many ways you can brew your favorite drink.