What Coffee Should I Get at a Cafe? A Guide

Updated on July 6, 2018

As a barista, I always hear questions like...

  • What is this coffee?
  • Is this good?
  • What is a flat white?
  • What does Chemex mean?
  • Is this worth trying?

So this is a small, friendly illustrated what-coffee-should-I-drink-in-a-local-coffee-shop guide for you!

Black Coffee

  • Espresso: This is a pretty intense drink, though it contains just small amount of caffeine. I suggest choosing a double shot of espresso for better taste and balance.
  • Americano: Basically it is espresso with hot water. In a good coffee shop, it is still pretty intense and has a rich flavour.
  • Black Coffee: In my experience, this is just an over-extracted espresso. Usually bitter and very rich in caffeine. But some people like it.

“Black as night, sweet as sin.”

Neil Gaiman

Milk Beverage

  • Latte: An espresso-based drink with milk crema and a small amount (up to 3-4 mm) of milk foam.
  • Cappuccino: Usually more intense than a latte, but it's also a milk beverage. It just has bigger foam, about 4-7 mm. You can usually get latte art with this version too.
  • Flat white: An espresso with the same amount of milk crema.
  • Machiatto: A single espresso with a spoon of milk.
  • Mocha/Mochaccino: Latte or cappuccino with hot chocolate powder already mixed in an espresso.

"A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems."

Paul Erdos

Brew Bar

  • Brew bar: This method uses a pour-over technique and coffee filters. Rich in caffeine and taste, it's not too intense and is recommended to be served a little chilled (60-55 degrees Celsius). Could be mixed with milk for a very light taste.
  • Aeropress: A small amount of coffee, about 200 ml, pretty intense compared to others.
  • V60: Coffee for two. Around 300-400 ml of coffee, not as intense as Aeropress, but contains more caffeine.
  • Chemex: I call it "a coffee for friends." Usually made in a 500 ml bowl. Coffee made with this brewing method is pretty soft and sweet, and contains a lot of caffeine.

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