6 Different Types of Coffee Drinks Explained
Barista round-up of popular coffee brews
Do you ever walk into a coffee shop and become completely overwhelmed with the endless coffee options on the menu?
I mean coffee is coffee… right? It is our go-to refreshment when we’ve had a tiresome morning or need something to kick-start the day, but there are so many options to choose from and it can be confusing.
Below is a simple guide to the different types of coffee drinks that will give you the boost you need to carry on with your day.
If you are looking to make any of these coffees from the comfort of your own home, check out our reviews of the best bean-to-cup coffee machines on the market right now.
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What is an Espresso?
Let’s start with one of the simplest forms of coffee – the espresso. Strong in taste and small in size, an espresso is essentially a short black coffee.
Good coffee grinding and accurate extraction is key when making an espresso because any slight alterations can completely change its taste. When extracted perfectly, you will produce a nice espresso shot of 30ml with a rich golden crema.
This drink is ideal for someone that wants a quick, strong pick-me-up. They often come as a single espresso or you can order a double if a little extra boost is needed.
Espressos are the foundation of all other barista-style drinks.
What is an Americano (Long Black)?
Despite their simplicity, an americano is a complex drink and differs greatly to other black coffees, such as filter or drip coffee. This is because americanos are made professionally with fresh coffee beans that are extracted to perfect taste.
To make an americano, you must fill a mug with hot water and the coffee should be extracted straight onto the water, to keep that golden crema of the espresso.
An americano is a strong coffee and can be made to suit your taste. If you like strong black coffee, you can drink it as it comes or for a little less bitterness you can add a dash of milk.
The technical lingo: white americano means with milk and black americano means without milk.
What is a Flat White?
There have been plenty of debates about this one, it seems that no one really knows what a flat white is. Of course, all coffees vary, and this is why we all have our preferences.
Nevertheless, a flat white is served as a small drink. It is made with smooth steamed milk, somewhat between the texture of a latte and a cappuccino. The milk used to create a flat white tends to have a glossy appearance, making it much easier to create that famous latte-art that every coffee enthusiast is obsessed with.
Compared to a latte, this drink is slightly stronger in taste, due to there being less milk and more concentrated coffee.
Drink ratio: 1/3 espresso (extracted longer for added intensity), 2/3 steamed milk with a smooth micro foam consistency.
What is a Latte (Cafe au Lait/Cafe Con Leche)?
Lattes are smooth in taste and often enjoyed by milky coffee lovers. The term café latte translates quite simply to coffee and milk.
A latte is usually made with 1 or 2 shots of espresso and the rest consists of steamed milk with a short bit of foam to top off.
Traditionally, a latte is served in a tall glass with a long spoon.
What is a Cappuccino?
A cappuccino is a popular coffee shop drink that is strong, frothy, and enjoyed by many.
The milk of a cappuccino has a frothier consistency, this comes from adding lots of air bubbles when steaming the milk. You will often see that a cappuccino has a slight dome to it once poured and it doesn’t spill as easily.
Drink ratio: A cappuccino is roughly 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 frothy milk, they are often topped off with a light dusting of cocoa powder.
What is a Mocha (Moccaccino)?
Not sure whether you want a coffee or a hot chocolate, well why not have both?
A mocha is similar to a cappuccino in the sense that it has the same milk texture and uses the same amount of coffee. However, a mocha also has cocoa powder or chocolate syrup added to the milk to give it a chocolaty taste.
This drink can be enjoyed by coffee lovers with a bit of a sweet tooth.
There you have it, a simple explanation to some of the most popular coffee shop drinks on the menu.
The main difference among each of these coffees is their sizes and varying milk textures. This, along with the type of coffee beans used and the way the coffee is extracted, is ultimately what makes each of these drinks different.
Now, there are still plenty more to talk about: you’ve got speciality lattes and there’s the confusion between an espresso macchiato and a latte macchiato – but this may have to be a discussion for another day.
What is your favourite type of coffee? Send us a picture on Instagram @dailybarista_uk to feature on our page!
More reading: See our comments on the best instant coffee brands.