We all know that there are different types of coffee, but do we know which and how many types of coffee we can find? What are the most common types of coffee prepared? The question is more difficult to answer than it seems since the type of coffee depends on the type of categorization we want to establish.
In this article, we will compile the different ways of ordering coffee and classifying it. We will also see which are the most famous types of coffee exist in the world by looking at each one of them, and even then, we will surely not be able to cover all of them.
Types of coffee beans
There are mainly two types of coffee beans: Robusta and Arabica. Almost all coffees in the world are made from one of these two varieties or blend the two in different proportions. However, there are other minorities and more unknown varieties: get to know all the different types of coffee beans.
The differences between Robusta and Arabica coffee are obvious:
Types of coffee: Robusta coffee beans
Robusta coffee originates from Central Africa. Therefore, it grows in dry regions and is less digestible and has a more bitter taste than Arabica. It has a much higher concentration of caffeine. For all these reasons, Robusta coffee is often considered (although this is a somewhat lighter statement) to be of “poorer quality” than Arabica. Consequently, it is also cheaper.
Types of coffee: Arabica beans
Arabica coffee comes from Ethiopia (although it’s not grown exclusively here) and has much less caffeine than robusta. It is more digestive, more aromatic and in some ways also milder. And yes, it is indeed more expensive.
Now that you know the differences between Arabica and ROBUSTA, you can buy the raw material with more knowledge. If you are interested in a particular variety or want to see some of the best coffees in the world, don’t forget to visit a coffee bean shop.
Types of coffee according to roasting
In terms of types of coffee, a big difference we have is roasting. In most countries, only natural coffee is known, and there is no such debate, but in other countries (Spain, Portugal, France or Mexico), torrefacto coffee and blended coffee still exist.
If you want to know more about the differences, we recommend that you read the article dedicated exclusively to this topic: Torrefacto or Natural Coffee?
Types of coffee according to their preparation
There are many ways to prepare coffee, as well as to serve it. You can ask for black coffee or an espresso-like you have always had, but when you want to add milk (or milk foam), there is already such a wide range of options and different names depending on the geographical location that it is easy to get lost.
For this reason, the preparation of speciality coffees gives rise to an extensive categorization, which we can summarize in the following types of prepared coffees:
Espresso or black coffee is drunk without milk and often without sugar (to the consumer’s taste). Black coffee is not to be confused with the authentic Italian espresso, which has its characteristics as defined exactly by the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano:
- Extraction of 25 millilitres of coffee.
- A dose of 7.5 grams of ground coffee.
- Extraction at 9 bar pressure.
- Water temperature: 90ºC-95ºC.
- Percolation time: 25 seconds.
Any coffee that does not meet these characteristics may be called black coffee, but it will not be an espresso itself.
There is also the variation of lungo, or long coffee (an espresso of greater volume than those 25 millilitres), or doppio, which as its name indicates is a double espresso (double water, and also double dose: 14 grams of coffee).
The ristretto is extracted with the same characteristics as the espresso, but only for 15-20 seconds. It contains barely 15 ml of drink (which is a sip) and finds its reason for being in these first seconds of espresso extraction when the purest flavours and aromas of the raw material are concentrated.
American coffee is an espresso with hot water. For this reason, it is a much more abundant drink and milder than any other black coffee. The amount of hot water in American coffee is to the consumer’s taste.
The cortado is an espresso or black coffee, over which a splash of milk is served. Originally from Spain, it has much less milk and smaller size than coffee with milk.
Caffe Latte in Italy, or simply Latte for the rest of the world. It is perhaps the most popular and well-known coffee. Ideally, it is served in a large cup, mixing 50% black coffee and milk. In practice, the amount of milk varies according to consumers’ tastes.
The literal translation is “spotted milk”, but this coffee has nothing to do with what is known and served as spotted milk in some countries. Latte macchiato is a large glass of milk over which espresso is served. It is advisable to froth the top of the milk before serving the espresso over it so that the characteristic tricolour lace of this coffee is formed.
Technically it is an espresso coffee, on which a layer of milk foam is served and sprinkled with chocolate powder. However, in some coffee shops, the invention is perverted and replaced by milk coffee with many creams, cinnamon and similar sorts.
You can also order a dry cappuccino (with very little milk) or a wet cappuccino (with much more milk than usual).
Suppose you want to know more about a good cappuccino’s qualities, especially the differences between cappuccino and Latte macchiato. In that case, we suggest you read this article: How is a Cappuccino different from a Latte Macchiato?
The carajillo is another typical Spanish coffee, usually requested (before more than now) in the morning to get strength. It is nothing more than an espresso or black coffee, to which a shot of a high alcoholic drink is added. Usually brandy, rum, pomace or aniseed.
Mocha or Moka
This mocha coffee replaces milk with chocolate (or chocolate syrup) in a coffee with milk. The ideal proportion is 50% for each ingredient.
It is a cut coffee in which milk is replaced by condensed milk. Much softer and with a different texture to the traditional cut. It should be served in transparent glass to appreciate the two perfectly defined layers (the condensed milk is much denser and should remain at the bottom of the container).
Flat White is a latte of Australian or New Zealand origin – it is not clear who is responsible – it is also popular in the United Kingdom. It is served over one or two servings of espresso (there is much debate about this point), over which a layer of milk cream is served. Not foam, as cappuccino would be, but cream. It differs from coffee with milk in that Flat White coffee predominates in the total drink.
The result is a coffee with less air, silkier than a cappuccino, and a different taste and texture than traditional coffee with milk.
NOTE: This infographic is only one of many reference guides you can find on the web. It is impossible to find a global and globally accepted consensus on the different types of coffee and ways to order coffee in every place.
Types of coffee according to their infusion
How the coffee is infused (i.e. how the coffee beans are wet with water) also critically determines the coffee we are talking about. For example, most coffee preparations are made with espresso, but there is more.
Espresso coffee is obtained by filtering the raw material with hot water at a certain pressure. For this purpose, coffee machines with different extraction systems and different pressures are used, such as manual espresso machines, Moka coffee machines, or filter coffee machines.
Some of these coffee makers use a pre-infusion technique, which extracts many more nuances and aromas from our coffee. Would you like to know more? Read here: What is pre-infusion?
Turkish coffee is not filtered: be clear about this before trying it. It is a very finely ground coffee served over boiling water and undergoes different boiling-cold processes. Everything is very handmade and very ritualistic. And, above all, don’t shake it before you drink it!
Finally, everything you need to know about Turkish coffee can be found in this very interesting article: What is Turkish coffee?
The well-known soluble coffee is made to dissolve directly in any liquid (usually milk or water). Its advantages are well known to everyone: it is easy to prepare and very, very fast. It is ideal for certain situations, although it does not have the same qualities as a properly infused coffee.
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