Today there are no limits as to how you differentiate your coffee and make it unique. Just like in the fantastic world of cocktails the number of coffee varieties has risen exponentially the last couple of decades. A possible reason for this could very well be the global market of today, which helps create a demand for these amazing goods. In this article I will introduce some of the most common types of coffee drinks, along with their characteristics and recipes for making them.
The list is not even close to being complete &em; and given enough time (and space) it could probably go on forever &em; but these coffee drinks are some of the most popular types in most of Europe and the Americas. And I sincerely hope that when you have finished reading this article, that you will be better equipped to know the difference between them.
Plain filter coffee
The ordinary cup of plain, black filter coffee has all but died out in most coffee shops. Most places today you will need to ask for a caffe americano, simply because filter coffee is not on the menu. A Caffe Americano is 1/3 espresso and 2/3 hot water.
Black, as we all know it.
Espresso dates back to Italy in the early 1900’s. It is usually served in a small cup (not unlike a shot). At its most simple, espresso is “just” concentrated coffee and is slightly stronger in taste and aroma, compared to filter coffee.
To avoid the bitterness in the coffee, some people sweeten their espresso with raw cane sugar or refined sugar, but most of the times espresso is used as an ingredient in other coffee varieties &em; like in the coffee drinks mentioned below (caffe latte, latte macchiato and cappuccino.
Black, thick in its consistency and served in a small cup, usually with a top of brown/reddish crema (foam)
You can read much more about espresso on Wikipedia.
How to make the perfect espresso
Caffe Latte, or just “Latte” as most of us prefer to call it, also originates from Italy or quite literally translates to “coffee with milk” (technically it translates to “coffee milk” but who’s counting). A Caffe Latte kan be made just as fast as an Americano since it’s made from 1/3 espresso, approx. 2/3 hot milk and top it of with a layer of foamed milk.
Caffe Latte is steadily growing more and more popular in most of the world, and you can find it in almost any coffee shop, no matter where you are. Prices vary a lot around the globe and a study from 2010 showed that Copenhagen in Denmark has the most expensive caffe lattes in the world, beating other expensive cities like New York, Paris and London.
I have not been able to find an updated study that is more recent, only one from Wall Street Journal that looks at Star Bucks’ prices specifically, where Oslo in Norway runs of with the first prize for the world’s most expensive caffe latte. However there are no Starbucks in Copenhagen so it can’t really be used as a eligible source.
Creme coloured, foamed milk with a thickness the size of a fingers width and often with artwork created in the foam.
Latte Macchiato is a lot like a caffe latte, since it is made from a lot of hot milk at the bottom and a small amount of espresso added on top. This coffee drink is very popular in Germany where it is the coffee of choice in most coffee shops. The mix of ingredients in this drink makes it ideal for serving up in a tall glass, with the ingredients layered beautifully. The layering can be a bit tricky at first but if you pour with ease it’s perfectly possible.
Latte Macchiato translates into something like “milk with marks” and depending on where in the world you order it, the milk/coffee ratio differs, some baristas literally just add a couple of coffee marks on the hot milk while other make it more like a caffe latte with extra milk.
Light coloured, coffee in the bottom and a couple of coffee marks/spots at the top. Ideal for people who doesn’t like coffee but love the coziness that comes with the caffe latte.
The Cappuccino was very popular a decade ago, and also originates from Italy (there’s a pattern here, eh?). It is made from 1/3 espresso, 1/3 hot milk and 1/3 foamed milk. Many coffee shops also serve cappuccinos with a drizzle of chocolate or cocoa powder on the top, which some like and some don’t – feel free to find your own favourite.
If you like to experiment with your servings, the thick layer of foam on a cappuccino is the perfect canvas for making beautiful coffee art, using syrups, sauces, powders, nuts and whatever comes to mind – only your own imagination sets the limits.
Creme coloured with a thick layer of foam, usually served in a large cup. Served with chocolate/cocoa powder on top or some artistic motif.
5 great reads on making great coffee
If you want to learn more on how to make the kind of coffee, your guests will talk about long after the’ve visited you, here are 5 great books on coffee. They include background information, history, tips and recipes, and are both fun and full of interesting knowledge.
- The World Atlas of Coffee: From beans to brewing – coffees explored, explained and enjoyed
- The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes
- The Curious Barista’s Guide to Coffee
- Espresso Extraction: Measurement and Mastery
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting And Running A Coffeebar (Idiot’s Guides)
Enjoy them with a good cup of coffee!
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