11 different types of coffees (and 1 weird Chinese one)

coffee art

From a simple roasted bean, so many different beverages can be done. Whether you prefer your coffee plain black or with milk, there are numerous preparations that can be chosen for a change. And before the trending new versions adding cinnamon or nutmeg or whatnot, there are 11 traditional ways of preparing your coffee drink. Another time we’ll look at modern preparations like some famous chains do, but here we concentrate on the core from which everything derives.

Espresso

An espresso is the base of all coffee preparations. From the Italian espresso meaning express, it is made by passing 1oz (30mL) of water through a dose of coffee. The process takes around 30 seconds, and should yield a quite thick coffee, almost syrupy, with strong aroma and a light brown foam on top. Modern espresso is made with high pressure water, that’s why coffee machines are trendy compared to old coffee filter: you need them to make an espresso.

Since an espresso can have a very strong taste, some people who don’t like too bitter tasting coffee will choose some milder coffees, in particular beans with a medium or light roast.

Ristretto

Ristretto has luckily (or sadly ?) been popularized by those stronger Nespresso cups. It is an especially small espresso, with less caffeine (due to quicker brewing) but packing more bitter punch. It should be 0.5 oz (15mL), half his espresso brother.

Lungo

A long black coffee, lungo in Italian, is made by passing boiling hot water through a dose of coffee, normally not too finely grounded. This coffee is nice to drink and not too bitter, though using more water means that the caffeine content can actually be higher than an espresso. While it can be seen as a simple variation on an espresso, it is also possible to do a lungo with other types of coffee brewers than a pressure machine: your regular coffee filter, or especially an Italian coffee pot, can yield a nice lungo.

Americano

It is said that Americans in Italy during World War II wanted to enjoy their coffee longer. Indeed, it’s hard to spend a long time on an espresso cup. Adding more water to it allows to drink while chatting, for a social experience. But not only. Similarly to how connoisseurs can add some water to a whisky to reveal the full spectrum of flavours, adding more water to your coffee can lead to a new experience altogether. Americano is typically made with a coffee filter or a French press.

Long black

Very similar to an American, a Long Black is done by pouring an espresso into hot water, while retaining the coffee foam on top. While the taste of the coffee doesn’t change much, the flavours are slightly different since the foam has a stronger and more astringent smell than the diluted coffee. The experience is therefore more interesting.

Latte

Latte is a coffee with a lot of milk. Add as much milk as you like, hot of course to get the perfect flavours mix. There is no defined rule on the amount of milk, but a latte should clearly have more milk than coffee; it is not a simple Americano with a small dairy dose.

Mocha

A mocha or mochaccino is a type of latte with some added chocolate. This chocolate can be added as powder, syrup, or real Italian chocolate drink. If you’re going to use chocolate powder, go for real Cocoa powder, not the instant chocolate drink for kids that is mainly sugar and barely tastes like chocolate at all.

Cappuccino

Cappuccino is 3 parts:

  • 1 part espresso
  • 1 part steamed milk: heated with steam, like good coffee machines can give. You can also use regular hot milk
  • 1 part foamed milk: for that one you do need the steam jet from a real coffeee machine

The name comes from Capuchin monks wearing a light brown robe, and cappuccino has become the archetype of advanced coffee preparations, due to the skill required to foam the milk.

Flat White

From Australia or New Zealand (you have to pick a side and fight to death to defend it, or just drink the coffee and not give a *), this preparation comes from the frothy bottom of a steamed and foamed milk pot, over a double espresso. Terribly efficient for staying awake, but allowing nice coffee art.

Macchiatto

Over this espresso, pour some foamed milk. Don’t mix. It is like a cappuccino without the steamed milk part. I personally find it uninteresting, while the taste is okay, the top foam gives the whole a milk smell. I personally think the smell is half the pleasure of a good coffee

Chinese coffee with black tea

Last, this weird preparation some people like to drink in China, mixing half black tea with half Americano. It gives the whole a very weird flavor. I like both black tea and Americano, but I can’t stand the mix. But it is well known enough that any shop in China will know when you ask for the correct Chinese name (that I was told but conveniently forgot as soon as I could).

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