How Many Types of Coffee Are There?
There was a time when coffee was simply a drink made by adding hot water to ground coffee beans, and at most dressed with milk or sugar. But unlike tea or cocoa, coffee adapts well to different brewing methods which over time, gave rise to an almost unlimited variety of coffee based drinks, often with quite extravagant names!
However, most people have no idea of the difference between an espresso, versus Americano or a cappuccino, which can create a lot of confusion for the typical coffee drinker! So we have attempted to eliminate some of the confusion, giving you a better idea of perhaps which type of coffee will suit your palate the best.
Coffee Drink Types Explained
In its pure form, this coffee is consumed without any milk and is better liked in Europe, particularly Italy, than in America. It is a strong coffee made by forcing boiling water under high pressure through finely ground dark-roast beans.
A well brewed cup of espresso will have a thick crema (foam) at the top which, if sugar is added the crema will hold it for a second or two before allowing it to slowly sink to the bottom. Typically, seven grams of ground coffee is used to produce a single one ounce shot of espresso, which is served in a small demitasse cup.
An espresso is high in caffeine, with a typical two ounce (60ml) serving delivering 80 to 150 milligrams of caffeine. If you’re not exactly sure what caffeine actually is, please read our article called ‘What is Caffeine’. So, one cup of drip brewed coffee (240ml serving) has between 95 to 200 milligrams. Espresso is the basis of a large number of other coffee drinks.
I frequently drink an espresso before my weights workout in the gym, because it helps me to focus and to burn more calories! If you didn’t know, caffeine can boost sports performance (not just in the gym) and can really help to burn more fat, and lose weight quicker.
Caffe Con Zucchero
Caffe Con Zucchero is essentially espresso with sugar. In Italian coffee houses you normally add your own sugar unless you are in southern Italy around Naples, where it is generally served with sugar and you have to request for sugar not to be added.
Cafe con Miel
The origins of Café con Miel lie in Spain. This drink is usually served after dinner and uses a shot of espresso as its basis with steamed milk to top it off. It is sweetened with honey, as it is milder than sugar thus allowing the flavour of the coffee to shine through. It is often served with a sprinkle of cinnamon at the top.
Cafe de Olla
Café de Olla is how coffee has been traditionally prepared in Mexico. Water is boiled in earthen clay pots then heat is reduced and coffee, piloncillo (a raw form of sugar), and a cinnamon stick are added (1).
Cloves or anise may also be added to the mix. The combination is allowed to simmer on low heat for around ten minutes. The combination of earthen ware pot and cinnamon stick lend the coffee its special flavour.
The coffee is traditionally served in earthen-ware mugs, and consumed after a hard days work during winters at the end of meals.
Probably one of the best known types of coffee, the Caffe Latte is made by using one part espresso base and adding two parts steamed milk, topped off with about a centimeter of milk foam. The cream can even be poured in a way to create some art work in the cup (coffee art)(2); typically the pictures are smiley faces, tear shapes or ferns.
Naturally, the ratio of espresso-to-milk is adjusted to taste.
Café Mocha, also referred to as ‘mocha latte’ in France or Italy, is a variation of a café latte. Typically it makes use of one portion espresso and two portions steamed milk. Chocolate in the form of sweet cocoa powder or chocolate syrup is also added.
The drink is topped off with milk froth, which may be decorated with a dash of cinnamon or cocoa powder. Alternatively, whipped cream may be used in place of milk froth and topped off with marshmallows.
The name Caffe Americano is originally believed to have been contrived as a bit of a smear to Americans, because they found it hard to drink espresso straight. Although, I’m not sure how true this is now in the 21st Century! It is made by diluting hot water to a single shot of espresso, in a ratio of one to one.
Many people drink it like they would the regular drip brewed coffee, by adding milk and sugar. But to get the true flavour of espresso, these add-ons should be kept to the minimum.
Many people confuse Caffe Lungo with Americano, but they are very different. A standard espresso is made by extracting coffee from the grounds for around thirty seconds and produces roughly one ounce (25 to 30 ml) of drinkable espresso.
Caffe Lungo extracts coffee from the grounds for up to one full minute and produces 150 ml of drinkable coffee. Americano is one shot of express diluted with boiling water and has almost no crema.
When an espresso is made, the first thing that comes in the cup is sourness, then sweetness and finally bitterness. The longer the water is passed through the coffee grounds the more bitter the taste, and the more watery the coffee becomes. Hence, a Lungo is not as strong as espresso but has more bitter taste due to the longer time water interacts with the grounds.
A proper cappuccino is made by using espresso, steamed milk and milk froth in a ratio of 1:1:1. The texture of milk is of special consideration in making of a cappuccino. It is steamed to produce air bubbles in the milk and giving rise to micro foam (3).
The micro foam gives the milk a smooth texture and sweetness. When this steamed milk is poured onto the espresso in a cup, it results in thick foam on top, and finally the cup is topped with additional froth. Chocolate or cinnamon powder is added for flavor.
Espresso con Panna
When translated from Italian, the name of this coffee means ‘espresso with cream’. It makes use of one or two shots of espresso layered with whipped cream. The delicious treat can be doubled as a dessert after any meal.
As the name implies, this is a double shot of espresso where approximately 14 grams (7 grams are used in regular espresso) of finely ground coffee is extracted through an espresso machine using two filters. It yields two shots (60 – 70 ml) in about thirty seconds.
Along with cappuccino and espresso, the macchiato is a pillar of the Italian coffee culture. It is essentially an espresso, and since the word macchiato implies trace, that is served with a tiny amount of foamed milk. To minimize confusion, it can be thought of as a cross-over from pure espresso to cappuccino (4).
Many coffee connoisseurs don’t consider the espresso romano to be real coffee, because its make-up is not traditional. But you can decide for yourself; it is made with one shot of espresso served with a teaspoon of sugar and a small piece of lemon rind for a unique of tangy hit to the coffee flavour.
Are there really any ‘rules’ to making coffee, with so many varieties? I don’t think so.
The word ‘frappe’ is used for thick milkshake with ice-cream, and is originally a French, the verb is ‘frapper’ – contextual meaning is chilled with ice cubes. The word Frappuccino was coined and the subsequent coffee based drink were created by a coffee chain in the Boston area of the US, that was taken over by Starbucks (5).
In 1995, the Frappuccino was marketed by Starbucks and it became an instant hit. It is made with a coffee base in combination with other ingredients like fruits, blended with ice and topped with whipped cream. Here is the Starbucks Frappuccino recipe to try at home.
Greek coffee is made from a combination of specific bean varieties, and roasted at stipulated temperatures in a set ratio. While many people use any coffee beans and brew them in the small traditional pot called an ibrik, using a standard recipe and call it Greek coffee, it is not true Greek coffee.
The ratio of sugar to coffee, quantity of coffee, length of time it is boiled and if bubbles form or not are the factors that influence the taste and texture of true Greek coffee.
Greek coffee can be prepared in four different ways depending on personal likes.
- The sketos is made without any sugar and one heaping teaspoon of ground coffee for each demitasse cup. It tends to be rather strong and somewhat bitter.
- Metrois or medium is prepared using two teaspoons of sugar.
- Glykys or vari glykos (honey-sweet) is made with three teaspoons of sugar.
- Glykys vrastos is also sweet but during preparation, the coffee is made to boil several times to eliminate the froth.
Like Greek coffee, Turkish coffee also uses finely ground (consistency of a powder), roasted coffee beans to prepare the drink. In both cases the ibrik (also called a cezve) is used to prepare the coffee and is served in small cups where the grounds eventually settle to the bottom.
Actually in Greece, Turkish coffee was Turkish, but political apprehensions between the two countries led to the same coffee being given the names Turkish coffee and Greek coffee, for their respective countries.
Latte macchiato translates to stained milk and is a technique of making coffee where the milk is stained by adding a tiny amount of espresso to hot milk. Unlike cappuccino or café latte, in latte macchiato you pour steamed milk in a cup first, next add the froth from the steamed milk and finally add only 1/3 a shot of espresso at the end.
Nespresso is a brand of coffee machines marketed by the Nestlé company that brew espresso coffee. The machines use pre-packed single shot capsules available in different flavours and are sold throughout the world.
In Italian the word Ristretto mean restricted, which is why it is used as a name for this very concentrated and small quantity of an espresso drink. When an espresso is made, the best qualities of the coffee come into the cup first and the negative ones last.
So when the extraction time is made longer, more of the negative qualities (flavours) come out. Ristretto coffee is prepared in a way that minimizes the bad qualities and maximizes the good.
To prepare ristretto coffee, even more finely ground beans are used than in normal espresso, and 30mls of water is pressured over 14 grams of grounds in roughly 30 seconds.
Spicy Viennese Espresso
Spicy Viennese espresso is an eye opener with its wonderful mix of spices. It starts with a double shot of espresso as its base then an eighth teaspoon of each clove, allspice and cinnamon are added that are topped with whipped cream.