Are you a coffee lover who wants to venture off the beaten path, but feel overwhelmed by all the different types of coffee available? You are not alone!
As a young coffee drinker, I knew I was in over my head when I couldn’t remember if grande or venti was bigger, never mind understanding the difference between a macchiato and a cappuccino.
Fortunately, after many years of both researching and drinking copious amounts of coffee, I’m happy to share what I’ve learned with you.
In this article, we will share the types of coffee beans, roasts, drinks, and even the types of coffee brewing methods you need to know about to take your next step to become a coffee aficionado!
Table of Contents
Types Of Coffee Beans
Let’s start with coffee beans. You’ve probably seen the term “arabica beans” printed on coffee bags and cans.
Maybe you’ve even wondered what an arabica bean is, or if there are other types of coffee beans. Curious coffee lover, wonder no more!
All coffee comes from the fruit of a group of plants known as Coffea trees. Arabica coffee comes from the Coffea arabica tree.
Arabica coffee trees like tropical climates like those in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, India, and Ethiopia. Arabica coffee beans make up 70% of the coffee beans grown in the world each year and are probably what you are used to drinking.
The flavor of Arabica coffee depends on where the coffee is grown, how it is grown, and how it is processed, but in general, you can depend on an aromatic, smooth cup of coffee with low to medium acidity.
Robusta coffee beans come from the Coffea canephora plant. The plant was discovered in the Belgian Congo (present-day Zaire) in the late 19th century.
The discovery was exciting because the plant is hardier and cheaper to grow than arabica. Unfortunately, robusta coffee on its own can taste too earthy or woody for most and has a grainy texture.
Robusta coffee beans are therefore used in coffee blends (i.e. an arabica/robusta blend), instant coffee, and some espresso drinks.
Liberica coffee beans are very rare. The Liberica coffee plant originated in the West African country of Liberia.
Some coffee farmers started growing Liberica in the 1890s during a large-scale Arabica tree illness known as “coffee rust” because Liberica plants were resistant to the disease.
When the “coffee rust” epidemic was over, most of the world went back to Arabica, but there are still Liberica growers in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
For those lucky enough to try coffee brewed from Liberia beans, you can expect a pleasant aroma, sweet taste, and low acidity.
The Excelsa coffee plant is related to the Liberica plant, and like Liberica, is grown almost exclusively in Southeast Asia.
Its profile is different, however. In contrast to Liberica, Excelsa is strong and dark and to many, has an unpleasant aroma.
Here’s a graphic that shares the 4 different types of coffee beans…
Types Of Coffee Roasts
Congratulations! You are now an expert on the 4 major commercially-grown coffee beans! It’s time now to get a little more familiar with the roasting process.
Although what is picked from the coffee plant is a fruit called the coffee cherry, by the time it gets to the roaster, the seed of this fruit has been processed, dried, and milled into a green coffee bean.
The roaster will heat and tumble the beans until they take on the brown color we are used to seeing. The length of time the beans are heated and tumbled impacts the flavor and aroma of the coffee we drink.
Let’s take a look at the profiles of different roasts…
Light roast coffee gets its name from the light-brown color of the bean. Light roast coffee is heated for less time and to lower temperatures (356°F to 401°F) than other roasts.
This allows the coffee to retain more of its original flavors and caffeine and results in a sweet, fruity, and a more acidic cup of coffee.
Medium roast coffee is heated for slightly longer and to higher temperatures (410°F-428°F). Medium roasts are what most of us are used to drinking – think the house blend at your local coffee shop.
The flavor of this roast is sweeter than light roast but less acidic. The coffee will feel smooth as you sip it.
Coffee beans in this category are the first to start looking oily on the surface. The roast temperature (437°F-446°F) and longer roast time break down the surface of the beans, allowing the lipids, or oils, natural to the bean to seep through.
This will result in a richer cup of coffee. Like medium roast, you can expect less acidity, but a slightly heavier feel as you sip.
By now, you can probably predict that dark roast coffee is roasted the longest and at the highest temperatures (464°F-482°F).
Like medium-dark roast, these beans will be visibly oily. Because these beans are roasted at such high temperatures and for so long, almost all of the original flavor will be gone, and you will instead taste the results of the roasting process.
What does that mean? The sugars in the coffee bean will have had time to caramelize, meaning a sweeter flavor. The coffee will feel thicker in your mouth and have low acidity.
Check out the 4 main coffee roast types below…
Types Of Hot Coffee Drinks
This section is for all of you who, like most of us at some point, feel anxious looking at the menus in coffee bars.
With this list in mind (or bookmarked on your phone!), you will now be able to order with confidence and ease!
Black coffee is what it sounds like. A cup of drip coffee, nothing added.
Black Coffee With Cream
Black drip coffee with cream, usually half-and-half, added.
Black Coffee With Cream & Sugar
Black drip coffee with cream, usually half-and-half, and sugar added.
An espresso is a small cup (about 1 ounce) of highly concentrated coffee with nothing added.
A doppio is a double shot of espresso.
Lungo is the Italian word for long, and it is a good name for this drink because it takes longer to make than regular espresso.
That is because it is made with twice the amount of water as espresso. This leads to a drink that is weaker but more bitter than espresso.
Ristretto means restricted in Italian. It is the opposite of a lungo because it is made with half the regular amount of water as a regular espresso.
The result is a slightly smaller drink than a typical espresso, but one that is sweeter and richer.
The red-eye is a shot of espresso topped with drip coffee. This is a great combination for people who need an extra caffeine boost!
A black-eye is basically red-eye on steroids: two shots of espresso topped with drip coffee.
Also known as dead-eye, this outdoes the black-eye. Enjoy three shots of espresso added to your drip coffee.
A lazy-eye is decaf drip coffee with a shot of espresso. A lazy-eye will taste like a red-eye, but will have about 60% less caffeine.
Decaffeinated coffee is coffee that has had most of its caffeine removed. The caffeine may be removed naturally in a process called the Swiss water process, or chemically Compared to regular coffee, which has on average 95 milligrams of caffeine, decaf coffee averages about 2 milligrams of caffeine.
Also known as a latte or a cafe latte, an espresso latte starts with a shot of espresso. This is topped with about 8-10 ounces of steamed milk and finished with milk foam. Some people like to add flavored syrups to their lattes.
“Piccolo” is Italian for “small.” So a piccolo latte is a small latte!
A mocha latte, also known as a cafe mocha or just a mocha, is similar to an espresso latte but with added chocolate syrup or powder.
This is a good choice for people who can’t decide if they want a hot chocolate or a coffee. Some people like to put whipped cream on top of their mocha lattes, but you can also choose to stick with the more traditional milk foam.
A cappuccino is, like a latte, a blend of espresso and steamed milk, but has a more even coffee-to-milk ratio.
Cappuccinos tend to be topped with a generous layer of milk foam, and are sometimes topped with chocolate shavings.
A caffe breve is made like a cappuccino, but with steamed half-and-half instead of milk. It is a fluffier, creamier, sweeter version of a cappuccino.
Galão is a coffee drink from Portugal. To make it, fill a tall glass ¼ of the way with espresso and then top it with foamed milk.
A flat white is similar to a cappuccino because it is a blend of espresso and steamed milk, but does not have the milk foam on top. Hence the name flat white!
The word macchiato is Italian for “mark” or “stained.” In this drink, a shot of espresso is “marked” by a small dollop of steamed milk.
The milk adds an element of sweetness without overwhelming the coffee flavor. Some people like to add flavored syrup to their macchiatos.
A long macchiato differs from a regular macchiato in size.
You can expect a double shot of espresso with a dollop of steamed milk in proportion to the espresso, giving you the same full coffee flavor with just the right amount of milky sweetness.
A cortado is similar to a macchiato, but where a macchiato has a small dollop of foamed milk on top, a cortado is a shot of espresso with an even amount of steamed milk.
The word “cortado” is Spanish for “cut-up” and that is exactly what the steamed milk does here: it cuts, or breaks up, the strength of the espresso, leaving the drinker with a smooth, creamy drink.
Cafe Au Lait
The term “cafe au lait” means “coffee with milk” in French. Cafe au lait is similar to a latte, but it typically does not use espresso.
The coffee is usually made with a French press or brewed strong in a drip machine and poured into the bottom half of the cup. The coffee is topped with an equal measure of hot milk.
An Americano is a shot of espresso diluted by about 3 ounces of hot water. Why is it called an Americano?
During World War II, American soldiers stationed in Italy found espresso too strong and bitter, so they added hot water to make it taste more like the coffee they were used to at home!
A long black is similar to an Americano, but in this case, espresso is poured over hot water.
A long black contains less hot water than an Americano, so the taste will be stronger. The long black is common in Australia and New Zealand.
A Vienna coffee starts with a shot or two of espresso brewed into a cup about 80% full of hot water.
It is then infused with heavy cream or whipped cream, resulting in a rich, creamy beverage.
Espresso Con Panna
Espresso Con Panna means “espresso with cream.” This drink is a single or double shot of espresso topped with whipped cream.
Affogato, or affogato al caffè, means “drowned in coffee” in Italian. In this dessert beverage, plain or vanilla ice cream is drowned in a shot of espresso or a few tablespoons of very strong drip coffee.
Cafe Cubano is a sweet beverage made from a Cuban-style ground coffee usually prepared in a Moka pot.
When the coffee begins to fill the upper chamber of the Moka pot, a small amount is poured over about 2 tablespoons of sugar and stirred until the sugar is dissolved and a light brown foam appears on top.
When the coffee is ready, the sugar/coffee mixture is poured on top of the coffee proper.
What do you get when you combine a lemon slice, a teaspoon of sugar, and a shot of espresso? An Espresso Romano!
Although the name suggests the drink came from Rome, it is most popular in Naples and the Amalfi Coast where it is known as caffé canarino or caffé al limone.
Turkish coffee is brewed from finely ground coffee in a small, long-handled pot called a cezve.
When it is poured, the coffee grounds are not filtered and are sipped along with the coffee. Sugar is often added to Turkish coffee.
Irish coffee is something you may enjoy after a stressful day at work. It consists of a shot of espresso, a drop of whiskey and is then topped off with whipped cream.
Bulletproof coffee is a creamy morning drink popular with people following keto or paleo diets. It is made with drip coffee blended with grass-fed butter – that’s right, butter! – and medium chain triglycerides (MCT) oil.
The claim is that the healthy fats in this coffee help you feel full longer, give you a steady boost of energy, and keep you sharp and focused. However, some health experts caution against making bulletproof coffee a staple of your diet.
Green coffee is made from unroasted coffee beans. The flavors we are used to in our coffee come from the roasting process.
Since green coffee is not roasted, it will probably not taste much like coffee to you. Some people say its taste is close to green tea.
Green coffee is also more acidic than roasted coffee. There is some evidence that drinking green coffee or green coffee extract can promote weight loss and lower blood pressure, but the jury is still out on how effective a dietary aid it actually is.
Types Of Cold Coffee Drinks
While some may like it hot year-round, many coffee lovers like to cool it down in warmer weather. Looking for your best cold coffee option? Read on!
Iced coffee can be made by pouring hot drip coffee over ice, or by letting hot drip coffee cool, and then serving it over ice. You can drink it black or add cream and sugar to taste.
Cold brew coffee is made with coarsely ground coffee steeped in cold or room temperature water. While hot brews use the hot water to extract the flavors from coffee, cold brew uses time.
Cold-brew can steep for anywhere from 8-24 hours. Cold-brew coffee will typically taste less bitter and be less acidic than iced coffee.
Nitro cold brew is cold-brew infused with nitrogen gas through a pressurized valve. Adding nitrogen to cold brew creates a frothy layer that sinks to the bottom of the cup or glass.
Some people compare nitro-cold brew to draft Guinness because of this! Nitro cold-brew has a thick, smooth texture and a slightly sweet taste.
Iced espresso is espresso served over ice cubes.
An iced latte starts with espresso poured over ice. Add frothed cold milk and voila! You have an iced latte.
The original Frappuccino was originally created and trademarked by a coffee chain in eastern Massachusetts called The Coffee Connection.
When Starbucks bought The Coffee Connection, it also bought the rights to the Frappuccino.
The word Frappuccino is a mash-up of the Massachusetts name for a milkshake – a frappe – and the word cappuccino. Frappuccinos and their copy cats are made by blending ice, drip coffee, flavored syrup, and milk.
Frappe coffee is sweetened iced coffee blended with espresso and milk.
Mazagran, a cold, lemony coffee, originated in Algeria. To make mazagran, add a sweetener like sugar or honey to a glass of ice. Pour a shot of espresso into the glass and squeeze in fresh lemon juice.
Cà Phê Sữa Đá
Cà Phê Sữa Đá is a type of Vietnamese iced coffee. Vietnamese-grown coffee is brewed using a Vietnamese drip filter.
The coffee is brewed over a glass filled ¼ of the way with sweetened condensed milk and ice.
Type Of Coffee Brewing Methods
We are blessed to have so many different types of coffee brewing methods to choose from that enable us to get a great quality cup of Joe right in our own home.
If you want to see our definitive guide on coffee brewing methods that goes over the pros and cons of each so you can decide which brewing method is right for you then check out or ultimate coffee brewing methods guide here…
Here are the different types of the coffee brewing methods and how they work…
Brewing coffee using a drip machine is one of the most popular ways to make coffee. Users load drip machines with a filter and coffee grounds, pour cold water into a reservoir, and hit start.
The machine heats the water and then drips it over the grounds. The water flows through the grounds and pours into a pot or carafe.
This method is popular because drip machines are often inexpensive and easy to use.
A French Press is also fairly easy to use but does require more manual labor than a drip machine. But, for many, it is worth it because there is more opportunity to control the brew time and strength of your coffee.
A French Press usually consists of a glass container and a plunger. The user puts their desired amount of coarsely ground coffee into the bottom of the glass container, adds boiling water, and stirs.
Then they let the coffee steep for as little or as long as they like. Finally, they press down the plunger. The metal screen attached to the plunger separates the grounds from the liquid. All that’s left is to pour and sip an incredibly tasty cup of coffee!
You can make a single serving of coffee in a variety of ways. One of the most popular is the Keurig or its imitators. These machines take special pods that are prefilled with coffee grounds.
The pod is popped into the machine and water is added to a reservoir. The user places a mug in the space provided and presses start. A single cup of coffee is brewed and the drinker is ready to go!
You can also find single-serve instant coffee packets on the market. These are great for on-the-go or camping. You just pour the packet into the mug, add hot water, and you are all set!
A percolator is a pot that you either plug in or heat on the stove. Water is added to the bottom of the pot and grounds are perched in a basket at the top of a hollow tube.
As the water is heated, it is sucked up through the tube and onto the grounds. The water repeats this process until the coffee is as strong as you desire.
The AeroPress is a relatively new method of brewing coffee. The device was invented in 2004 by engineer Alan Alder because he wanted to make a less bitter and acidic cup of coffee.
An AeroPress consists of a cylindrical chamber capped at one end with a filter. The chamber is perched over a cup or mug. Coffee and hot water are added to the chamber, stirred, and brewed for 10-30 seconds according to taste.
The final step is to use the plunger to press the coffee out of the chamber and into the cup. Some people put the plunger into the AeroPress and flip it over, add the grounds and water, and then screw on the filter end.
After brewing, they flip the whole thing over and press the coffee into the cup. An AeroPress is very similar to a French Press with the crucial difference being the paper filter at the bottom of the chamber stops oil from making its way into the cup.
The AeroPress is also very portable, making it a good choice for campers and backpackers.
Pour-over coffee is sort of like drip coffee in that all you need is a cup or a small glass carafe, a funnel, a filter, coffee, and hot water.
The tricky part of making a good cup of pour-over is your pour. Some people believe that a special kettle with a long, thin spout is the only way to pour as it allows precision and control.
The first pour should just wet the grounds. Some people prefer to pour from the sides in to ensure all grounds are evenly wet.
You let this sit for about 30 seconds so that the water can start to extract the flavors of the coffee without overwhelming them.
Then, you do the second pour, making sure all grounds are wet and covered. From there, the coffee will brew into your cup or carafe. This method results in a rich and flavorful cup of coffee.
Cold-brew coffee can be very simple. Add coarsely ground coffee beans to a container. Pour in cold water and let it steep for 8-24 hours.
Filter out the grounds and you have your cold brew. You can also use a French Press to make cold brew.
The method is the same, but the plunger will make it easier to filter out the grounds. There are also specially-made cold brew bags.
With this method, you put grounds into the bag, put the bag into a jar or pitcher, add water, and let it steep. You can also buy pre-filled cold brew filter pouches that work similarly to cold brew bags.
A Moka pot is a small, 8-sided, 3 chamber pot that originated in Italy. It is a great way to make espresso-style coffee without having to buy a huge espresso machine.
To brew, first, add hot water to the bottom chamber. Then put the second chamber- the funnel – into the pot, but make sure no water hits it. Add the grounds to the funnel.
Screw the top of the pot on, and heat the pot on the stove. As the water in the bottom chamber warms, it will push brewed coffee into the upper chamber.
You will know the coffee is done when you hear a hissing and gurgling sound. You can then pour your coffee directly into your cup and enjoy!
The vacuum pot is really cool to see in action! This technique was developed in Germany in the 1830s. The pot consists of five parts.
From bottom to top they are: a heating element, a lower chamber for water, a connecting gasket, a filter, and an upper chamber for the coffee grounds.
Water is added to the lower chamber and heated. As the water is heated, it turns to vapor. The vapor tries to escape up the tube leading to the upper pot, but can’t because it is blocked by the water at the bottom of the pot.
Pressure builds until finally, the water vapor forces the water up the tube and into the upper chamber. This is the part that is really fun to watch because it happens fast and with a big whoosh!
The grounds in the upper chamber are immersed in the water, and then coffee drips through the filter back down to the lower chamber. This method produces an aromatic, bright cup of coffee.
The Chemex coffee maker was, fittingly, invented by a chemist in the 1940s. It is attractive in a mid-century modern sort of way. It is an hourglass-shaped glass carafe.
The midsection sports a wooden collar cinched with a rawhide cord. This is not only a cool-looking feature, but also a functional one as it gives you a place to grasp the carafe without burning yourself.
You will need to use a specially-designed Chemex filter, which is thicker than most filters. You place this at the top of the carafe, add coffee grounds, and pour hot water over the grounds. The thicker filter will trap the natural oils, so you will get a smoother, less bitter cup of coffee.
Eva Solo Café Solo
The Eva Solo Café Solo also wins high marks for style but will appeal more to the hipsters and techies than the boho set.
The brewer itself consists of a glass carafe, a filter funnel, and something Eva Solo calls a “flip-top lid” even though it isn’t a flip-top in the sense we usually think of.
The edgy bit is that the Café Solo wears a sleek neoprene zip-up jacket – sexy, but also insulating. To make coffee in the Café Solo, you preheat the carafe with hot water.
Then, add grounds to the carafe, add hot water, stir, zip up the jacket, and wait two minutes. When you pour, the “flip-top lid” will pop, or I guess flip, open from the pressure of the coffee.
This device will brew a nice, rich cup of coffee that will satisfy french press lovers.
Espresso machines come in all sizes and with an assortment of bells and whistles to choose from.
At the most basic, an espresso machine has a portafilter, that pot-shaped metal basket that you’ve seen baristas fill with fine grounds, a water reservoir, a pump, and a boiler.
The word “espresso” comes from the Italian word for pressed because this machine pushes pressurized water through the grounds and into your cup.
The act of brewing a shot of espresso is known as “pulling a shot”, a throwback to the days when baristas pulled a lever to start the brewing process.
Today, most espresso machines are started with a push-button. Some fancier machines are programmable, include a frother device, and may even include a built-in bean grinder.
Turkish Coffee Pot (Cezve)
A Turkish coffee pot, or a cezve, is a long-handled pot traditionally made of copper or brass. Today, you can get a cezve made of enamelware or stainless steel.
Water is boiled in the cezve and then it is removed from the heat. Very finely ground coffee is added and stirred. The pot is then heated to a boil again.
The foam on top is removed and then the process is repeated a second and third time. This method produces a strong, robust coffee that is often sweetened with sugar and flavored with spices like cinnamon and cardamom.