As a coffee enthusiast, you definitely feel great knowing the numerous experiences offered by top-quality coffees. Coffee is available in numerous different types. Also, there’re numerous specialized coffees available in the world of coffee. Knowing them can be helpful to any coffee enthusiast. Considering the numerous types available, it can be confusing where to start. In this guide, you’ll learn more about the available coffee options. That way, you’ll know what you’re dealing with when buying coffee beans or ordering a cup of coffee.
Before anything else, it’ll help to know more about coffee beans. They’re available in four types. Among them, Arabica coffee beans are the most common type. In fact, more than 50 percent of all coffee beans produced globally are Arabica beans. Robusta beans come in second. Excelsa and Liberica coffee beans are the least common type of coffee beans produced today.
Arabica beans feature balanced acidity, complex aromas, and a very bright taste. The most popular varieties of Arabica beans include Blue Mountain, Catuai, Bourbon, and Typica. Essentially, Arabica coffee tastes best without milk. It’s also best when served hot.
The name Robusta sounds “robust”. It’s truly robust. The Robusta plant is resistant to diseases. Also, it’s extremely hearty. Its high caffeine content makes it resist diseases. Its caffeine content is almost twice that of the Arabica plant. Robusta beans have a very strong and relatively bitter taste due to their high caffeine. Thus, you’re less likely to find Robusta coffee in top-quality coffee selections.
Understanding Coffee Flavor Profiles and Single Origin
Generally, coffee-growing regions play an important role in the flavor profile of coffee. Although coffee is produced by at least 50 countries globally, each coffee origin has its unique characteristics. For instance, the flavor profile of Kenyan coffee differs from that of Brazil coffee.
Regardless of where coffee is grown, be it in Africa or Latin America, its flavor profile depends on the altitude it’s grown, the climate, bean type, soil, harvesting method, and processing method.
Before discussing the main factors that make different coffees have unique characteristics, it’ll help to understand what Sumatran coffee entails. Although the best type of coffee is more about personal preference, it’s important to know more about coffees before choosing coffee beans for your next brew.
Sumatra is an island located in Indonesia. The island is situated at the equator, thereby making it a suitable environment for growing coffee. Sumatra has several coffee-growing locations with high altitudes. As a result, coffee beans get enough time to gain more complexity and flavor. Sumatran coffee features a full-bodied and earthy flavor.
Besides its growing region, Sumatran coffee also gains its rich flavor from the processing technique used. The cherries are typically processed using the wet hulling technique. Wet hulling is locally known as giling basah. The humid climate in Indonesia makes it necessary to use this technique.
The flavor of Sumatran coffee is also affected by the coffee bean itself. Majority of the coffee plants in Indonesia are Robusta. However, Sumatran coffee beans are a variety of Arabica coffee. Sumatran coffee features low acidity and superb notes of tobacco and cocoa.
Although single origin affects the flavor of coffee, the kind of roast used when brewing also affects the flavor. There’re several kinds of roasts, each with a certain effect on the coffee flavor profile. Coffee roasts include light roast, medium roast, and dark roast.
As a coffee enthusiast, you probably know the names of some roasts such as city roast, French roast, American roast, Vienna roast, and Italian roast among others. These are some of the most popular coffee roasts. Each roast level defines a certain flavor profile. The names also refer to a specific coffee roast.
You can easily tell the kind of roast based on the kind of color that the beans have. For instance, light roast beans are light brown. Their flavors tend to remain more intact such that they offer a nuanced and complex experience. Light roasts usually feature a flavor similar to that of toasted grain and high acidity. Their surface is dry as their surface doesn’t have oil.
Medium roast beans feature a medium brown color. Their surface is generally dry. City roast and American roast are some examples of medium roast beans. City roasts have varying levels of darkness including light, full, and half city roasts.
Vienna roast is another example of medium roast coffee. These roast beans have a relatively dark brown shade with little oil on their surface. Viennese coffee features a richer flavor and darker color than American and city roasts.
Dark roast beans feature an oily surface and a darker brown color. Espresso blends often use darker roasts. Their flavor features elements of smokiness and bitterness. These flavors are common with several continental roasts. Italian, Spanish, and Fresh roast coffees are some popular examples of dark roasts.
Types of Coffee Grounds
There’re several types of coffee grounds. Some are fine while others are coarse. The success of every cup of coffee depends on the specific grind used when brewing. For instance, it’s best to use a coarse coffee grind when brewing coffee with a French press since finer grind clouds the brew and clogs the coffee filter. Espresso coffee machines also work best with finer grounds. Turkish coffee is best when brewed with very fine grounds.
Espresso coffee is a classic Italian coffee. It’s among the most popular types of coffee in the world. Espresso coffee has several variations. These variations include:
Espresso is brewed with a finer grind. Espresso coffee is defined by the extraction method used when brewing. When brewing espresso coffee, extraction is done with steam instead of boiling water. As a result, expertly brewed espresso has thick crema. The crema isn’t cream, but a delicious and dense foam with a tan color that forms over the top of an espresso brew.
As a result of being the most common coffee brew in Italy, Italians call it “caffé” instead of “espresso”.
Espresso is also available as double espresso, also known as doppio. Double espresso refers to two espresso shots served in one cup.
- Espresso Lungo
Espresso lungo refers to a variation of espresso that’s brewed with a lot more water than regular espresso. As a result, it’s less concentrated, but it’s stronger than Americano espresso.
- Espresso Ristretto
Espresso ristretto refers to an espresso made with less water than a regular espresso, making it a powerful, short, and flavorful shot.
- Caffé Americano
Caffé americano refers to a diluted espresso. Dilution is done with enough hot water. Caffé americano was made by Italian baristas with the thought that it would be the kind of espresso that Americans can enjoy. A tasty cup of caffé americano features a dark and rich flavor with a crema layer. It’s made with either one or two espresso shots.
Whether you prefer taking coffee with cream or milk, you can only know more about it when taking it as black coffee. Although black coffee looks plain, it’s quite complex. In fact, there’re numerous experiences offered by black coffee. Here’re the main varieties of black coffee:
- French press coffee
In this type of coffee, extraction is done using hot water. A coarse coffee grind is used. As extraction occurs, coffee blooms into the pot containing hot water. The grounds are pushed toward the bottom area of the coffee pot. A metallic mesh filter separates the grounds from the extracted coffee.
- Pour-over coffee
In this coffee brewing method, hot water is poured over coffee grounds in a reusable or paper filter. It requires special skills to control the water flow through the grounds to reveal the subtle flavors and aromas.
- Drip coffee
Also known as filtered coffee, drip coffee is often what coffee shops sell. Drip coffee is incredible when well-brewed. It requires using water and coffee in the right amounts, using top-quality ground coffee, and using the best drip coffee maker.
- Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee is a low-tech coffee brewing method. It has been used for many years. It’s still popular in Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. When making Turkish coffee, water is mixed with fine grounds. The mixture is simmered inside a small-sized pot until a ring of foam forms at the center. However, the grounds aren’t filtered out. The coffee is drunk from small coffee cups slowly. That way, grounds are around to settle in the cup when drinking the coffee.
- Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew one of the most popular coffee brewing methods. It originated from Japan. In this method, ground coffee is steeped in cold or cool water for several hours. You can use your French press to make cold brew. You can also use another cold brew technique known as slow drip. In this method, water is slowly dripped through coffee grounds for several hours.
The cold brew method requires a lot of patience. Fortunately, the results give a rich, smooth, and low-acidity coffee concentrate. Thereafter, the concentrate is diluted with enough milk or water depending on your preference.
Cream or Milk Coffee Drinks
Coffee is often made with heavy cream or whole milk. It’s served over ice or while hot. With some experimentation, you can add milk to espresso coffees such as:
Cappuccino is the strongest form of espresso coffee containing milk. To make a cappuccino, espresso is mixed with steamed milk. The proportions used are of equal amounts and topped with foamed milk. You can also have a stronger cappuccino known as double cappuccino, which is made using two shots of espresso coffee for a more concentrated brew.
- Caffé Latte
Caffé latte refers to a milkier cappuccino than regular cappuccino. The term “latte” refers to milk. Caffé latte is made by combining espresso with steamed milk. The amount of steamed milk used is about 3 or 4 times that of espresso. The drink is topped with milk foam.
Mochaccino is made by adding chocolate syrup to cappuccino. It’s then topped with enough chocolate powder.
- Piccolo Latte
Piccolo latte refers to a smaller brew of caffé latte. It comprises steamed milk, some little foam, and a ristretto. It’s typically served in small glasses instead of regular coffee cups.
Affogato is a delicious mix of coffee and a dessert. Essentially, it comprises ice cream (vanilla) with an espresso topping.
- Flat White
- Flat White
Flat white comprises a similar amount of milk and espresso-like cappuccino. However, its texture is different from that of cappuccino. While cappuccino comprises macrofoam (dry foam milk) and steamed milk, flat white comprises microfoam. Microfoam refers to textured and velvety steamed milk.
Black coffee, just like espresso, is also ideal for use as the base ingredient for making popular coffees with cream and milk. Such black coffees include:
- Iced Coffee
Ice coffee is made by brewing fresh coffee and chilling it, then serving it over ice. It’s a great coffee beverage for taking during summer. It’s also suitable for use as a base ingredient for making specialty iced coffees by adding whipped cream, flavored syrups, milk, or alternative kinds of milk.
- Café au Lait
It’s similar to caffé latte but it’s made using stronger black coffee instead of espresso. In this coffee, equal amounts of steamed milk and hot coffee are blended. However, you can make it as milky or as strong as you desire.
- Irish Coffee
To make Irish coffee, you add whiskey (one shot) to a hot cup of coffee. Sugar can be added to the hot cocktail to sweeten it. Thereafter, it’s topped with some whipped cream. The cream isn’t mixed into the cocktail. You simply drink it through the topping.
- Café Viennoise
Café Viennoise is also referred to as café Vienne. It comprises one or two shots of espresso, which are topped with some whipped cream or liquid cream. The cream is poured carefully to float on the coffee.
Try New Styles of Coffee
Hopefully, this guide on the various types of coffee will assist you to make an informed decision when going through menus in coffee shops. With all the options available, you can always try something new. Actually, you can only learn more about the varieties available by trying them all.