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All About Coffee

What Kinds of Coffee Do We Drink?

As the availability of coffee increased, and coffee-shop culture proliferated, so did the mind-bendingly diverse range of drinks on offer from these outlets. The majority of drinkers still drank freeze dried or filter coffee at home, or even at their workplace, but with coffee shop culture becoming more mainstream, the culture of the coffee-snob arose.


Typically at home, many people make use of freeze-dried coffee products. Initially, these were markedly inferior to coffee shop drinks, but quality improved dramatically as time went on. Also at home, coffee can be produced via a drip or filter, cafetière, or a percolator. These methods produce a drink which most people refer to as regular coffee whereas the drink produced with the high-pressure coffee shop machine is referred to as espresso.


Coffee shops utilize professional quality bean-to-cup espresso machines, usually imported from Italy. These can easily cost upwards of $10,000, depending on the brand, the size of the machine, and how many cups of coffee it can produce per day. These machines produce the espresso shots from freshly ground beans giving the drink an incredibly aromatic flavor and foam (known as crema) which is hard to reproduce at home. This is done by forcing a small amount of almost-boiling water through finely ground beans under pressure, which is what makes the machines so complex and expensive.


Crucially, almost all coffee consumed today comes from two major kinds of bean. The Robusta bean produces a stronger more powerful coffee, with a more bitter and grainy taste. Arabica beans produce a smoother, sweeter drink with less caffeine than Robusta. However, most of the coffee we drink today is actually a blend of the two beans to achieve a happy medium between these two styles.


Once you’ve decided on your beans and your blend, and bought your machine, the next thing you need to think about is which type of coffee drinks you will create. And it’s not easy, with literally hundreds of different concoctions to choose from in today’s market. The majority of coffee drunk in coffee shops around the world today is in the form of espresso-based drinks. These start with a shot or two of espresso produced from freshly ground beans, to which varying amounts of steamed milk, foam and water are then added to produce the specific drink.


The commonest requested coffees include the following:


  • Cafe Latte. This is a shot of espresso, followed by steamed milk, topped with milk foam.
  • Cappuccino.This is essentially produced in a similar manner to the latte, however, it has a lot more foam on the top, and is usually sprinkled with chocolate or cinnamon. It is also smaller in volume than a latte.
  • Americano. This is a shot of two of espresso, simply topped up with hot water.
  • Mocha. This is a little more complex, starting with a hot of espresso, followed by chocolate syrup, steamed milk, and then sometimes whipped cream.
  • Espresso. A single or double shot from the machine, the easiest to produce and fastest way to get your hit of caffeine.
  • Macchiato. This is a double shot of espresso with milk foam on top.


But, as you probably already know, there are many, many more types of coffee available than just these.


So, aside from the huge variety of coffee drinks available at coffee shops around the world, and the more basic variants produced simply at home, there are also many other types of coffee which people still drink today.


Turkish coffee is produced from very finely ground beans in a special pot known as a “cezve”.  Turkish coffee is unfiltered, this results in an amount of coffee grinds left in the bottom of your cup, which can be very bitter if ingested unintentionally. Turkish coffee comes in four different levels of sweetness and is often flavored with ingredients such as cardamom and cinnamon.


Moka coffee is produced with a Moka pot, an Italian invention which uses the same principles as the expensive espresso machines. Quite often known by the brand name “Bialetti”, they are stovetop pots which heat water and force it upwards through finely ground coffee beans, albeit at a much lower pressure than the professional machines can achieve.


Something which has become fashionable in recent years, is the addition of various sweet syrups to coffee, particularly in coffee shops. This allows the coffee drinker to produce a vast combination of coffee flavors and styles.


Coffee can also be combined with alcoholic beverages to produce a liqueur coffee, the most well known of which is undoubtedly the Irish coffee which is coffee mixed with Irish whiskey.


So as you can see, from deciding how to brew your coffee, which beans to use, and then what additions to make,  will result in literally thousands of possible types of coffee drinks to be produced. Whether you prefer full-fat milk, soy milk, or milk foam, or want to add a hazelnut syrup, blackcurrant syrup, or even a shot of vodka, there will always be a new type of drink for you to try.


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