If someone were to tell you to close your eyes and imagine coffee, what would you think of? Some people might have a vision of a steaming mug with dark, bitter brewed coffee inside of it. Others might think of a robust café Cubano with demerara sugar in it. At least a few people are thinking of an iced coffee or cold brew coffee or a cappuccino. The point is that we all have a different idea of what a fantastic coffee looks and tastes like. And everyone is right in that vision. Those are all types of coffees, along with dozens of others.
You may think you have tried every coffee out there, but I’m wiling to bet you have not. Today we’re going to look at many of the coffee drink options out there, as well as what factors can change the texture and flavor of those drinks. Whether you have only been drinking coffee occasionally or you enjoy multiple cups a day, we believe this article will share something new for you. You may even end up finding out about the perfect coffee for you by the time we are done. So, let’s get starred with the basics.
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Types of Beans and Roasts
The two species of coffee beans that you are most likely to encounter are Arabica and Robusta. There are many others out there, but these two are the most popular and easily found in the United States. Arabica beans offer a lighter taste and are often used in artisan coffees. They are farmed at a high elevation and tend to be more expensive than Robusta. Robusta have a stronger taste and are often used commercially. They have more caffeine and are inexpensive compared to Arabica coffee beans.
When it comes to coffee roasts, there are a total of four. Everyone is going to have a different preference in terms of their favorite roast. Before we look at the different roasts in more depth, what you should know is that the darker roasts have less caffeine and less flavor. The lighter roasts are going to have the most caffeine but are also going to offer more acidity.
Light Roast Coffee
With a light roast coffee, your beans are going to be a light brown color. The beans have no oil on the surface and have a light body. You can expect a high level of acidity and a taste like toasted grains. The original flavors are more pronounced in this roast type. However, these beans also retain a higher amount of caffeine than the darker roasts do.
Beans that are light roasted hit a temperature of around 365 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, the beans expand or pop, which is referred to as the first crack. Any light roast coffee is one that was only roasted up until the first crack.
With a medium roast coffee bean, the color is a medium brown. You can expect more body than a light roast, but it shares the fact that no oil is found on the surface. The medium roast bean has less of the original bean taste, which means the flavor is more balanced, the acidity is a bit lower, and the aroma is not as pronounced. These beans will not have the same amount of caffeine as a light roast, but more than the darker roasts.
These beans are heated until reaching a temperature between around 410 and 430 degrees. This moves past the first crack but stops before the second crack is complete.
The third roast is called the medium-dark and it has a darker color than the medium roast. It also will have the appearance of oil on the surface. When comparing this roast of beans to a light or medium, you can expect a heavier body. The temperature these beans are taken to is from 435 to 445 degrees. This is toward the middle of the second crack in most cases. The roasting process will have brought out the flavors and aroma of the bean. You can also expect a spicy kick to your coffee when using these beans.
A dark brown color is associated with a dark roast. It can look like the color of chocolate or even close to black. These beans will have the largest amount of oil on the surface, something that can often be seen in the cup after brewing a dark roast. With this type of bean, little of the original flavor will remain and instead the flavor will be closer to that of the roasting process. This type of coffee will be bitter and smoky and can even taste burnt. It will also have the least caffeine of all the roasts above.
In order to reach a dark roast, the beans will be roasted to at least 465 and perhaps much higher. This will go beyond the second crack. However, most beans won’t be roasted above 482 degrees since this causes a thin bean that may taste like charcoal or tar.
Things to Remember
That gives you the basics of the roast types you can choose from. Below is a short list of the differences, other than the change in color:
- Coffee beans that are roasted longer lose their origin flavor and take on the flavor from the process of roasting.
- When the roast becomes darker, the level of caffeine decreases.
- The body of the coffee steadily gets heavier until the first crack, but at the second crack it thins again.
- Darker roasts have a sheen of oil on the surface, while light roast beans are dryer.
- Darker roasts have a smaller level of acidity than light roasts.
Your own taste is going to determine which roast is best for you. Some people like to enjoy a light roast early in the day for the additional caffeine but prefer darker roasts later on. Others drink one roast type throughout the entire day. It’s a personal preference and takes experimentation to determine.
Espresso Based Drinks
While there are many coffee drinks out there, many of them are espresso based and made with the assistance of a cappuccino machine. All of the drinks we’ll be discussing here have three ingredients in common: foam, steamed milk, and espresso.
There are also many differences between the drinks, as well. The most impactful difference is in proportions of those three main ingredients. In addition, many of the drinks also have extra toppings or ingredients to complete them. As an example, a cappuccino requires the addition of chocolate. Below we’ll look at many of the drinks based on espresso including how to make them and what extras they involve.
The Humble Espresso
The espresso, which is also called a short black, is the fundamental espresso drink and what every other drink is built upon. Thankfully, this drink is absolutely straightforward and easy to make. How do you make it? Place a shot of espresso into an espresso cup. That’s it!
The Double Espresso
This is a simple drink that is sometimes also called the Doppio. It’s almost as simple as the traditional espresso. A double espresso is simply two shots of espresso in a single espresso cup.
The Short Macchiato
With the short macchiato, we’re going to move on to something a bit more complicated. However, it’s still an easy drink to make, so don’t worry. Basically, the short macchiato is an espresso, but it also includes a bit of steam milk and foam. The addition of these ingredients will help to mellow the taste of the espresso. Depending on the country you are in, this drink may be made in multiple ways. However, the more traditional method involves pouring a shot of espresso into an espresso glass or short glass. When a dollop or steamed milk and foam is placed on top of the espresso.
As an additional tip, the best way to make this drink is by thinking of it in thirds. You’ll have one third expresso, one third a mix of milk and espresso, and one third steamed milk.
The Long Macchiato
As you might expect, a long macchiato is identical to a short macchiato except that it includes a double shot of espresso. You can use the same rule of thirds above for this drink to ensure the best tasting coffee beverage. This drink includes two shots of espresso and a dollop of foam and steamed milk placed on top. To get great layers, try placing the milk and foam on top of the drink and then gently turn the cup a few times to mix it together properly.
A long macchiato will have a large caffeine content than the short macchiato and is similar to the amount of caffeine in a single espresso shot.
With the ristretto, it is an espresso shot that uses the same amount of coffee but with half the water. This results in a drink that is much more concentrated with a deeper extraction of espresso. All you need to do is extract a normal shot of espresso but only use half the water you normally would.
The breve is similar to the latter except that it uses steamed half and half instead of milk. To make it, you’ll fill a coffee cup with a shot of espresso, add half and half, and leave a thin foam on top.
The Long Black
The long black is also known as an Americano and consists of hot water with an espresso shot extracted on top of it. This is a much less intense drink for those who prefer a lighter flavor. What you do to make this is fill a cup about 2/3 full of hot water. Then place a shot of espresso over the hot water.
A great tip is to be sure you backwash the portafilter before you make this drink. Not doing so can lead to grinds from the grinder reaching your cup of coffee.
This is a coffee beverage with a substantial amount of caffeine and is great as a morning drink.
The Café Latte
The café latte, which is also called a latte for short, is espresso based and included both steamed milk and foam added to it. Those who enjoy a sweeter coffee will enjoy this one when comparing it to an espresso shot. You make this by extracting a shot of espresso into a tumbler or coffee cup and adding steam milk. Then you add a centimeter of micro foam to the steamed milk.
A latte has limited caffeine since it includes a large amount of milk.
The cappuccino is fairly similar to the latte. What makes it distinct is that it has more foam and includes the use of chocolate on top of the beverage. It is also usually served in a coffee cup, rather than a tumbler. Make a cappuccino by putting a shot of espresso in a cup and adding steamed milk. Then add two or three centimeters of micro foam. After that, sprinkle a bit of chocolate on top of the drink.
This has a reasonable amount of caffeine compared to an espresso shot, but can vary depending on the amount of espresso that is added.
The Flat White
While the flat white is more popular in New Zealand and Australia, it is gaining fans globally and can be found in many coffee shops across the United States. This drink is fairly similar to a cappuccino except that it does not have chocolate or foam on the top. Instead, you simply need to add a shot of espresso to a cup and add steamed milk to it.
You can expect about the same caffeine in a flat white as you would find in a cappuccino.
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The Piccolo Latte
This type of latte is the same as a café latte except that it is made in an espresso cup. This gives a strong but mellow taste thanks to the addition of foam and steamed milk. This drink can be made in two ways, with an espresso shot or a ristretto shot. All you need to do is add a shot of espresso or ristretto to an espresso cup and then add steamed milk and a small amount of foam.
This is one of the most intense drinks in terms of caffeination due to the high espresso to milk ratio.
A mocha is a coffee drink that mixes hot chocolate with cappuccino. How it works is that chocolate powder is mixed into an espresso shot and then steamed milk and foam is added to the top of the drink. To make it, you will extract a shot of espresso and then add a spoonful of chocolate powder. Mix those together before adding steamed milk. Next add two to three centimeters of form and sprinkle with chocolate powder.
The amount of caffeine is the same as it is for a cappuccino, but it is less concentrated in this beverage.
An affogato is a dessert coffee that is commonly enjoyed after dinner on summer days. It consists of adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream to a single or double shot of espresso. To make it, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to a tumbler glass. Then pour in a single or double shot of espresso. If you want to add a kick, try adding a shot of Frangelico.
This drink typically has the same caffeine as a single or double shot of espresso.
This drink consists of two shots of expresso with a bit of whipped cream as an alternative to the sugar and milk. It offers strong flavors and smoothness due to the whipped cream. In order to make this drink, simply add a shot or two of espresso to a glass and then top with whipped cream.
This is a warm coffee beverage that is native to Italy. It is made of drinking chocolate, whole milk, and espresso and served in a small round glass. In order to make this drink, you will fill a glass ¼ full with espresso. Add another ¼ glass of hot chocolate, and then add ¼ cup of warm milk. This will make a delicious and aesthetically appealing drink that many people love.
The Café Bombon
This drink was made popular in Spain and has slowly gained fans throughout the country. It is similar to a latte except that it is made of espresso and condensed milk. The espresso is added to the glass first and the condensed milk is placed on top to create a contrast of colors in the glass.
The Café Corretto
This is an alcoholic coffee beverage that starts with a shot of espresso and then has grappa, brandy, or sambuca added to it. Other alcohols can be used if desired.
Coffee Brewing Options
Now that you have an idea of many of the most popular coffee drinks, you may be wondering what kind of options you have for brewing them. While an espresso machine is a given for espresso drinks, there are many other options for various beverages. We’ll look at the different brewing options and some of the devices that help make it happen. You’ll be on your way to making amazing coffee for yourself and your friends.
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The most common type of pressure brewing is through the espresso machine, there are many other options. As you can guess, the coffee made in this manner requires the presence of pressure to make for a fast extraction and an intense brew. The most common options here are the espresso machine, Aeropress, and Moka pot.
The Espresso Machine
The espresso machine has been a staple of the coffee world since the early 1900s. While things have changed a lot since then, the basics are the same. The machine pushes pressurized water through a chamber with ground coffee and then through a filter to make espresso. It can take as little as three minutes to warm up and can make the espresso in less than a minute. This machine requires a fine grind that is consistent. There isn’t a need for much skill to work with the machine, although you may improve as you use it.
This machine is best for those who want a latte type drink or an intense shot of caffeine. However, it may not be right for those who prefer a subtle flavor.
In recent years, the Aeropress has exploded in popularity, especially among the traveling coffee community. This is an easy machine to use that simply requires the right grind, right water temperature, and right air pressure level. You can make a great brew in only minutes and it doesn’t matter where you are. It’s a tool that consists of three parts to make high-quality coffee in an instant. Aeropress coffee can be made in less than a minute if you have hot water. You can choose whatever grind you like, as well. It is beyond easy to use and anyone can do it.
This might be right for you if you travel or want a fast coffee option. There really aren’t any groups that will find the Aeropress isn’t useful, so consider picking one up and giving it a try.
The Moka Pot
If you aren’t prepared to spend money on an expensive espresso maker, the Moka pot can offer the same caffeine shots but without the price. It is a stove pot device, so it may not be as convenient, but it does make a great cup of coffee. It uses three chambers to work its magic. The bottom chamber boils the water while the stream adds pressure to push the water through the grounds that are in the top chamber. Some people find that the shot is about the same as an espresso, but others prefer one or the other. It does take some skill to get right, but once you get the hang of it, you’re set. This device can make coffee in about five minutes once the water is hot. You may want to go with a coarser grind for this one, though.
If you don’t have the cash for an expensive espresso machine, this can give you a similar brew to enjoy each morning. However, if you love the taste of espresso, you may find the Moka pot coffee a bit too strong.
Brewing by Steeping
If you’ve heard of immersion brewing, steeping refers to the same thing. It is the most common method of making coffee and has been around for nearly forever. This brewing method involves mixing your ground coffee into hot water, so they can mix and then separating them to keep the coffee and toss the wet grounds. It might sound simple but doing it right can take some work. The French press offers the most common option for steeping, but we’ll look at some others, too.
The French Press
The French press has been around in one form or another for many years and has a large fanbase among home coffee aficionados. The reason for that is the fact that it is easy to use, super inexpensive, and has a brew with a distinct feel and taste in your mouth. This isn’t the quickest method for making coffee, but it’s not overly long either. It will likely take around 15 minutes in total. You want to use a coarse grind with this press and need no real skill to make a great cup of coffee.
The French press might be right for you if you like the taste of this coffee type or if you have a gang of roommates who love coffee. However, it isn’t great for someone who travels on a regular basis since many of the devices are made of glass.
The Coffee Bag
Thinking about the idea of instant coffee, it seems like a fantastic option. The problem lies in the fact that many instant coffees do not taste great. Most people prefer to avoid it unless it’s the only option on the table. However, you can make it most palatable by taking ground coffee and placing it in a filter bag which goes into hot water. This is a fantastic budget option and doesn’t take more than five minutes.
This type of coffee is an option if you do not like instant coffee but need caffeine while on the road. If you prefer brewing your own coffee, this might not be the method for you.
The Vacuum Pot
The vacuum pot, also known as the siphon pot, is a unique way to make coffee. It combines the full immersion brew method with siphon action to ensure a great cup of coffee. However, this method is fairly complicated and takes a lot of effort, so some people will prefer to use another method. It takes about 10 minutes to make a cup of coffee this way and you’ll want to choose a medium to coarse grind. The resulting coffee will be extremely flavorful if the process is done correctly.
This option is best for those who are super into making coffee and want to try something that most people never will. On the other hand, if you want a fast and quick brew, you’ll hate the vacuum pot method so stay away.
Drip Brewing Coffee
Right now, there are a ton of options out there for drip coffee making. It’s hit a new popularity and a new dripper is hitting the market every few months. Some of the methods of brewing that are most common are cold brewing, pour over dripping, and drip machines. In essence, the process involves putting coffee grounds in a filter and pouring water over it all. Most of the devices used with drip brewing are inexpensive, portable, and small, which is a plus for those who are on the go. Let’s look at some of the options.
The Standard Percolator
Before we jump into the modern drip options, let’s talk about the percolator. This is likely what is used to brew your coffee anytime you drop in to a random diner for breakfast. Some people like this coffee, but they tend to be in the minority. The coffee in a percolator boils many times, which can lead to overly bitter coffee. Percolating a brew is supposed to take ten minutes, but we recommend going shorter to get the best taste. You’ll want to choose a coarse grind for this method.
If you don’t care much about the taste of coffee and just want something quick and caffeinated, the percolator will do the job. For everyone else, you might want to move on.
The Cold Brew
Cold brew coffee is extremely popular due to its sweetness and lack of acidity. It’s also filled with that sweet caffeine to give you a boost in the morning. However, making this sort of coffee requires a great deal of patience as brewing can take 12 hours or more. If you think this coffee is just like iced coffee, though, you are pretty far off. It has a great taste and texture that can be worth the long weight. The best part is that this coffee can stay fresh for a week or even two. You’ll want a coarse grind for this option, and you may have to experiment to get things right at first.
This is a great option for those in hot climates or those who want sweetness without the added sugar. It isn’t great for anyone who is impatient and doesn’t want to wait a day to sip on their brew.
The Nitro Brew
Nitro coffee is a derivative of cold brew coffee and is the cool new brewing option on the black. Essentially, nitro coffee is cold brew, but it has nitrogen added to it. This has a positive effect on both the texture and taste of the resulting coffee. The coffee can be compared to cold brew but is even sweeter and has a head like a mug of beer would. While it is on-tap in many coffee shops, making your own is a bit of a challenge so you’ll have to do your homework first. That said, it can take days or weeks to make and uses coarse ground coffee.
This might be right for you if you already like cold brew. If you prefer a more acidic coffee or a hot coffee, it probably isn’t.
Coffee Tools to Amplify Your Favorite Cup of Joe
If you are interested in getting more involved in your coffee by brewing it yourself, having a few tools around can greatly improve the process for you. Excellent coffee and a nice brewing machine are a huge help, but extra tools can make the process more efficient and streamlined. Here are a few of our favorites that we think you’ll also appreciated.
If you plan to brew your own coffee, having a grinder for the beans is important. While there are electrical coffee grinders, most home kitchens don’t need the additional power. This grinder has ceramic burrs which provide the quality and durability to ensure a grinder that lasts. You can choose a grind from extremely fine to coarse and it isn’t difficult to operate the device. All you need to do is weigh the beans and load them in and start grinding for the perfect cup of coffee.
While you can use tap water for your coffee, filtered water can make a huge difference in quality. It can also help prevent the flavors associated with impurities and chlorine. With this pitcher, you can filter water to fill your French press or other brewing device. It has an indicator to let you know when to change the filter and can handle 40 gallons in between changes. It also holds up to 10 cups of water which is plenty for your morning coffee. The pitcher itself is made of BPA-plastic for safety.
This set of two measuring spoons and clamps is made of stainless steel and promises the perfect measurement for all your brewing needs. The spoons hold 1 ½ tablespoons and when not being used can clamp your coffee bag to keep the beans fresh until the next time you need them. The clamps are quite tight, and the tools will look nice in your kitchen even when not being used.
If you want perfectly frothed milk for your café latte, cappuccino, or hot chocolate, this device will make that a cinch. It has a capacity of 8 ounces for frothed milk and 12 ounces for steamed milk. When not being used, the heating and frothing discs can be stored in the bottom of the machine. There’s also no need to worry about cleaning up because the milk pitcher and lid are both dishwasher safe. You can even use it in the dark due to the illuminated controls.
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The Wrap Up
If you’ve been wondering what coffee is the perfect one in terms of taste and texture, this guide should give you a great start on finding that answer. Those who want to brew your own fantastic coffee drinks will also have instruction for the most common options, as well as a few that are sure to impress your guests at events. We’ve also shared common options for making coffee and tools that can make process a little less time-consuming. We hope that you find a new beverage to try and add a little variety to your daily cup of coffee. Good luck!
1. How much is a shot of espresso?
One shot of espresso is a single ounce, while a double is two ounces. Using a measure shot glass is a fantastic way to get the right measurement for your favorite espresso beverage.
2. What is the ratio of espresso to milk for a latte?
When you are creating a latte, the most common ratio of espresso to hot milk is one-part espresso to three parts milk.
3. Can you make espresso without a machine?
In most cases, espresso is made through a machine. However, it can also be made using a Moka pot or Aeropress.
4. Is espresso stronger than coffee?
The average espresso shot has around 40 mg of caffeine, while a double shot has 80 mg. However, a brewed coffee usually has about 120 mg of caffeine, so it actually has more caffeine on average.
5. Is espresso black coffee?
An espresso shot is a strong black coffee that is made in a unique way from brewed black coffee. While it is a black coffee, in most cases, that term is used for coffee that is brewed not pressurized.
6. What does a shot of espresso taste like?
The taste of an espresso shot is somewhat bitter and somewhat rich, but not overly rich or bitter in nature.
7. Why do you drink water with espresso?
Sure, many people drink water with their espresso. It helps to cleanse your palate before taking the espresso shot.
8. How long does it take for espresso to kick in?
On average, the majority of the caffeine in an espresso will be absorbed in under 45 minutes. The caffeine will then have a half-life of between four and six hours.
9. What is the difference between regular coffee and espresso?
The biggest difference between brewed coffee and espresso is the brewing time and the grind of the coffee beans. The two are also made in different manners.
10. How much milk do you need for a latte?
For a latte, you will mix six to eight ounces of steam milk with a shot of espresso. It can then be topped with foam. If you prefer it without foam, it is called a flat white.
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