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Coffee for Dummies | Addie Picker

When it comes to ordering coffee, it can, without a doubt, be overwhelming due to the broad array of types to choose from. Maybe you find yourself resorting to your usual order, afraid of what might be in store by trying a new drink. Perhaps you choose what your friend has ordered seconds before, or maybe even order the first item you see on the menu. If this is you, do not worry. A basic understanding of the different types of coffee brews (and how they present themselves in a coffee shop order) will take you far and have you ordering what you actually want in no time.

Standard Brewed Coffee - The first, and most basic type of drink would be regular hot, brewed coffee. This is often one of the cheapest options at a coffee shop, and allows for you to customize your drink with cream, sugar, and any other additions you´d like. Standard coffee is normally brewed with a machine, and depending on the ground to water ratio, is of a moderate caffeination. If you order a black coffee, this is what you will get!


Cold Brew - Cold brew is one of my personal favorite coffee brews as it is highly caffeinated and easy to be enjoyed as an iced beverage. This coffee type, however, takes much longer to brew as it is made by allowing coffee grinds to brew in water for anywhere from 12-48 hours. Cold brew, which can either be brewed at room temperature or in the refrigerator, is a very strong black coffee and is often enjoyed with cream, sugar, or milk. Many coffee shops, for example Starbucks, offer fun cold brew combinations, for instance, the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew. These are a great option for those that love the strong taste of coffee and a nice caffeine boost, but still want a sweet beverage.

Espresso - Espresso is a more specialized coffee variation as it requires an espresso machine and, oftentimes, a great measure of skill from the barista. Regarded by many as an art form, a shot of espresso is a small, highly concentrated amount of coffee that is made from hot water, very finely ground beans, and lots of pressure. Espresso is the building block of many popular coffee drinks, for example, lattes and cappuccinos. However, if made correctly, a shot of espresso offers a very sweet, strong taste for those wanting to enjoy it on its own. Some even prefer to top a shot with whipped cream for an Espresso Con Panna, or pair their espresso with a small amount of foam for an Espresso Macchiato.


Lattes - A latte is a beverage type (not a brew) that uses an espresso base. One of the most popular coffee drinks, a latte consists of shots of espresso (the number depending on how strong or caffeinated you want your coffee to be) with milk of your choice. A latte has a much greater milk to espresso ratio than, for example, a cappuccino (which we will cover in the next section) and is a great choice for someone looking for a smooth, mellow drink. Lattes can be made hot or iced, and are often made with syrup or flavorings to enhance the taste of the drink. A way to differentiate a latte from other drinks is by remembering that it is one of the most ¨milky¨ coffee choices.


Cappuccinos - Cappuccinos, which are traditionally served hot, are another espresso-based coffee drink. Similar to a latte, cappuccinos are made with shots of espresso and steamed milk for a more rich, sweet flavor. However, you might be wondering about the difference between a cappuccino and a latte, and the answer is in the espresso to milk ratio. Cappuccinos have a much smaller amount of milk, normally creating about a 2:1 milk to coffee ratio. In addition, cappuccinos consist of milk that is aerated for longer while steaming, which creates a more foamy drink.


Hopefully, this basic breakdown of the different coffee forms has given you a better understanding of what you might be ordering at your favorite coffee shop. Each coffee variation has something special and unique to offer, so I encourage you to explore different drinks and combinations. One of the most fun things about coffee is how diverse it is, which allows you to try something different each time you are in the mood for a caffeine boost. There are numerous coffee offerings out there, and I hope you enjoy exploring your own coffee preferences in the future!


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