I've always loved tech, including food tech. Freeze-dried food, sustainable farming, and even coffee brewing methods can be interesting.
There are so many types of coffee out there that it’s impossible to count them all. This is without even talking about how every now and then, a new type of coffee appears. If someone wants to treat you to a coffee, it’s best to go prepared.
Don’t settle for a regular drip coffee. It’s easy enough to learn what’s commonly available in every coffee shop. Let’s get to know the most popular drinks—in addition to some of the most interesting types of coffee in the world.
A renowned coffee from Italy, espresso is one of the most popular coffee drinks in the world. It has a unique density, strong flavor, and a high amount of caffeine per volume. Due to these factors, it’s used as a base for a wide range of coffee drinks such as Americano, latte, cappuccino, and macchiato.
Traditional espresso shots are made by pushing high-pressure steam through ground coffee and into cups or espresso shot glasses. They can be made by hand or mechanical devices, which is how espresso started, but of course you’ll need an espresso machine to get high pressure.
Ristretto, Italian for "short," is a type of espresso shot made with half the regular amount of water. It is stronger, denser, and more concentrated in caffeine. You may run into traditional coffee shops that serve ristretto shots in special Turkish cups called "demitasse."
Americano is an Italian term for "American coffee." You make it by diluting a single shot of espresso into a cup of hot water. It’s also known as "long black." Some stories say that the name originates from the Second World War. It is said that American soldiers based in Italy used more water to make insufficient amounts of espresso last longer.
Cappuccino is espresso added to milk. A regular cappuccino needs to have 1/3 coffee, 1/3 foamed milk, and 1/3 steamed milk. Traditional cappuccino is served in a cup instead of a glass, like some other milk-based coffee drinks.
Some places may add a little bit of chocolate powder or honey on top of the milk foam. Depending on your preferences, it can be served hot or cold.
A latte—the most popular espresso drink in the U.S.—is similar to a cappuccino but contains more milk. Thanks to this, it is a good entry-level coffee for those who have never tasted espresso before. But unlike cappuccino, you can always add more shots of espresso to a latte, which is exactly what those who try to get a caffeine buzz do.
In most European countries, you’ll get a latte in a tumbler glass, but in the U.S., it could be served in anything, and the type of receptacle may depend on if it’s hot or iced. A piccolo (small) latte is a subtype that you make by pouring warm milk over a shot of ristretto. Since coffee shops serve it in small, 100ml glasses, they are equivalent to a milky espresso shot.
Flat white is similar to cappuccino but without micro-foam on top, hence the flat. Just pour steamed milk over a shot of espresso without any foamed milk. It retains the dominant espresso flavor and supports it with a milky aroma.
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You need to own an AeroPress machine for this. With a metal or paper filter in the tube, you drip water through the coffee in the filter for a minute before pressing it through with a plunger. The filter should prevent the oil, sediments, and other large particles from passing through.
Mocha is a combination of regular coffee and hot chocolate. To make it, you add cocoa or chocolate powder to an espresso shot. After that, you add steamed milk and micro-foam on top similar to making a latte. Coffee shops usually place chocolate pieces or powder on top of the beverage and serve it in regular cups.
Mochaccino is a variety of café mocha with a double espresso shot and foamed milk on top. Instead of chocolate powder, chocolate syrup is used in its place. Some places add cinnamon and whipped cream to enrich the aroma.
Affogato is a delicious dessert that combines vanilla ice cream and espresso. Brew a shot or two of espresso into a regular glass cup. Then add a scoop of vanilla ice cream over it. Let it melt for a few minutes, and the affogato is ready.
Some varieties of affogato include liqueur such as Frangelico, amaretto, or others.
A cortado contains an even ratio of steamed milk and espresso in a regular cup. It has a flat texture similar to flat white coffee but stronger in taste.
The most popular variation of cortado is Gibraltar coffee, which became famous in San Francisco. The proper way to serve Gibraltar is with a special glass of the same name. Unlike regular cortado, it is served cold.
Kopi Luwak is a type of exotic coffee beans famous for the way they're produced. First of all, coffee cherries are fed to Asian palm civets.
Farmers then collect these digested coffee beans from the feces of these animals, process them, and sell them as coffee beans. As you might imagine, it’s one of the most expensive delicacies in the world.
Part coffee and part alcoholic beverage, Irish coffee is one of the world’s most popular liqueur coffees. To serve it properly, put around 3 oz. of hot coffee in a traditional Irish coffee mug. Then add 1.5 oz. of Irish whiskey and top it all off with an ounce of fresh cream.
There are other variations such as Jamaican coffee with rum instead of whiskey and Gaelic (highland) coffee with Scotch whiskey.
The Tip of the Coffee Iceberg
This aromatic beverage has so much more to offer than the above. There are multiple ways to make black coffee alone. We have taken the liberty to exclude drip coffee, since everyone who lives in or has been to America probably knows what it is.
If you’re stuck at the latte, perhaps it’s time to make your way up to the more exotic coffee drinks. Maybe you’ll even get a chance to try the Kopi Luwak—who knows?
© 2019 Ben Martin