Have you ever been overwhelmed by the number of different coffee drinks in the coffee shop menu? Do you order the same coffee drink every time because you don’t know what to try next? Do you want to learn the difference between a macchiato and a cappuccino?
There are quite a few types of coffee drinks and it can get confusing because most of these drinks use the same ingredients: coffee, water and milk.
If you are trying to better understand the menu at coffee shops or step up your coffee game by making some of these drinks at home, this article is for you. We will explain 30 of the most popular coffee drinks and the details in the preparation process that make each one unique. If you are more of a visual learner, take a look at this coffee drinks chart or keep reading for all the exciting details.
Did you know that there are different ways in which you can brew and serve an espresso shot? These are 5 of the most popular espresso variations.
An espresso is a concentrated form of coffee served in 1 ounce shots. It can be served solo in demitasse cups but it is also used as a base for other very popular drinks.
Doppio is the Italian word for double. It is a double shot of espresso or 2 oz espresso. Many modern coffee shops serve a double espresso by default.
Ristretto is an espresso shot made with less water than regular espresso, usually, using a 1:1 to 1:1.5 ground coffee to water ratio. The final product is a bolder, thicker and sweeter espresso shot.
Lungo is an espresso made using a higher ground coffee to water ratio, usually in the 1:3 to 1:6 range. The name comes from the Italian word “lungo” which means long as it will take longer to extract. Because the extraction time is longer, the lungo has more caffeine than a regular espresso shot. Even though the doppio and the lungo are both about 2 oz, the lungo will not have as intense of a flavor as a doppio.
5. Espresso con panna
Espresso con panna is an espresso topped with whipped cream or double cream. It is typically served with darker roasts because the more bitter espresso creates a good balance with the sweetness of the cream.
6. Espresso romano
Shot of espresso served with either a lemon twist or a slice of lemon. The added acidity from the lemon works better with darker roasts.
Warm coffee drinks without milk
Coffee drinks without milk really let you enjoy all the different aromas present in your cup of coffee. Although coffee without milk sounds plain and simple there are a few different ways in which you can enjoy it.
7. Black Coffee
Black coffee is simply brewed coffee with no added ingredients. It is sometimes confused with the Americano as they look similar. The difference is in the brewing method. The Americano is made in an espresso machine while black coffee uses any of the many other brewing methods. Also, black coffee generally has a higher caffeine content and a less intense taste.
While it looks similar to black coffee, the americano is an espresso shot with added hot water to dilute down the espresso. The espresso to water ratio is generally in the 1:3 to 1:5 range. This drink is perfect for anyone who is getting used to the taste of espresso as the americano will keep the roasty notes of the espresso without being too intense.
9. Long Black
A long black is basically an Americano but prepared in reverse order as the espresso shot is added on top of the hot water. Many people claim that the taste is different from an Americano but it may actually be more of a sensory experience because adding the espresso on top gives the drink a more velvety look. Actually, most coffee shops will make a long black even if you order an Americano just because the drink looks prettier with the espresso on top as it preserves the crema.
10. Red Eye
A red eye coffee is dripped coffee topped with a shot of espresso for maximum caffeine content. It is a great choice if you are looking for a quick way to get a high amount of caffeine but if you have time to enjoy your drink you could as well just order a dripped coffee and a espresso and enjoy them separately.
Warm coffee drinks with milk
Coffee drinks with milk are some of the most popular drinks. Everyone loves how milk adds some sweetness and creates a perfect balance with the bitterness of coffee. Even people that find the taste of coffee too intense can enjoy a good milky coffee. But do you know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino? This is where it gets confusing because for most of these drinks the difference comes to the amount and texture of the milk.
The cappuccino is a relatively strong drink made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foam, so that’s a pretty thick layer of foam! It was typically made using only one shot of espresso resulting in a smaller drink compared to a latte. However, it is now sold in bigger sizes and coffee shops would use 1 or 2 shots of espresso depending on the size of the final drink.
|1 oz||2 oz||Half steamed milk, half foam|
The caffe latte is one of the most popular coffee drinks nowadays. The latte consists of a double shot of espresso and steamed milk with only a small amount of foam on top. The espresso to milk ratio is in the 1:4 to 1:6 range, so this is a less intense drink compared to the cappuccino.
|2 oz||10 oz||Only a small layer of foam|
Macchiato means marked or stained. Traditionally, it was served as a shot of espresso with a little bit of milk and a dot (“stain”) of foam on top. Nowadays, the macchiato has evolved and it is more of a 1:1 espresso to milk ratio with a thin layer of foam on top. It is still a small drink compared to all the other milk based coffee drinks, being served in tiny 3 oz cups. It can get confusing when you are ordering at Starbucks because they call the traditional small macchiato an espresso macchiato while the Starbucks caramel macchiato is actually closer to a latte.
|1 oz||1 oz||Steamed milk with just a dot of foam|
14. Flat White
There is a lot of confusion around what a flat white actually is. Is it just a small latte? Is it a cappuccino with less foam? All of these definitions are partially correct. Both the latte and the flat white use a double shot of espresso. However, the flat white is usually served in a small 5 oz cup which means the coffee to milk ratio is lower compared to the latte but still higher compared to the macchiato. The other difference is that the flat white has less foam on top compared to the latte resulting in a drink closer to espresso while the latte is more milky. To make things simple, we could say the flat white is a smaller and stronger latte with less foam.
|2 oz||3 oz||Only a small layer of foam|
Cortado is a very popular coffee drink in Spain and Latin America. The word cortado means “cut” making reference to the milk cutting back on the espresso’s acidity. This drink is made with equal parts espresso and steamed milk. What really sets cortado apart from other drinks is the smooth texture of the drink as the milk has no foam.
Do you think the cortado sounds too similar to the latte? Check out our article where we compare the differences and similarities between the cortado and the latte.
|2 oz||2 oz||Only steamed milk. No foam|
16. Cafe au Lait
Even though it has a fancy French name, the cafe au lait is probably one the simplest drinks in this list. The café au lait is similar to the cortado in that it has only steamed milk and no foam but it is made with brewed coffee instead of espresso. This means you can make this drink at home without needing any expensive equipment. Simply mix equal parts milk and brewed coffee and it is ready to go.
|Brewed coffee||Milk||Milk texture|
|8 oz||8 oz||Only steamed milk. No foam|
Also known as cafe mocha, mocha latte or mochaccino. The mocha is basically a chocolate flavored latte. It consists of a double shot of espresso, steamed milk with foam and either chocolate powder or chocolate syrup. The espresso shot is first mixed with the chocolate syrup and then the milk and foam are added on top.
|2 oz||10 oz||Only a small layer of foam||Add chocolate powder or syrup|
Cold coffee drinks
If you are looking for an alternative to your regular warm cup of coffee for those hot summer days, this section is for you.
18. Iced Coffee
Iced coffee is as simple as it gets for cold coffee drinks. It is just dripped coffee poured on ice.
19. Iced Espresso
This is simply an espresso shot poured into ice. You can either brew the espresso straight on the ice or pull the espresso first and then pour the shot into a cup of ice.
20. Iced Americano
Similar to classic americano, the iced americano is the watered down version of the iced espresso. To make this drink, pour cold water over ice and then add the espresso shot on top.
21. Iced Cappuccino
An iced cappuccino is a shot of espresso poured over ice, then topped with foamed milk. The milk is frothed just enough to create the microfoam but not heated up to high temperature so that the ice does not melt when the milk is poured.
22. Iced Latte
An iced latte is similar to the iced cappuccino but it has more milk and therefore it is served in a bigger cup.
Shakerato is a double espresso shot with a little bit of sugar and shaken with ice in a shaker. Shaking the espresso shot creates a really nice foam on top when you serve the drink.
24. Cold Brew
Cold brew, as the name indicates, is coffee brewed with cold water. The brewing process can take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours so this is a drink that is prepared in batches to have it ready to serve. The long extraction process at low temperatures makes cold brew less acidic than regular dripped coffee. It has a smooth and sweet taste without even adding milk or sugar.
25. Nitro Cold Brew
Nitro is cold brew infused with nitrogen which gives the coffee a really nice velvety texture.
26. Espresso Tonic
An espresso tonic consists of a double shot of espresso poured on ice and topped with tonic water and sometimes a squeeze of lime. It makes for a very refreshing summer drink with a perfect balance between sweetness and bitterness.
This one may be controversial because many people say affogato is not a drink but a dessert. The affogato consists of a scoop of ice cream (traditionally vanilla ice cream) topped with a one or two shots of espresso. Obviously, you will need a spoon to eat it and this may be why it is considered a dessert.
Alcoholic coffee drinks
We know this article is supposed to be about coffee drinks and we are venturing into the cocktail space here. However, we wanted to mention the most popular and our personal favorite coffee drinks with a little booze in them. Perhaps, a good option for a Sunday brunch.
28. Irish Coffee
Irish coffee is probably the most popular coffee cocktail. The original recipe uses brewed coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and whipped heavy cream. However, there are many variations to the recipe now such as using Baileys instead of sugar. It is, of course, served warm which makes it perfect for those cold winter mornings.
29. Caffe Corretto
The name means “corrected coffee” in Italian. This drink consists of an espresso shot and a shot of some type of alcohol – typically grappa or brandy. It can be served as an espresso with the booze on the side or sometimes the alcohol is in the espresso already.
The carajillo is a Mexican spiked coffee drink made with a double shot of espresso and a double shot of Licor 43 poured on ice. Licor 43 is a Spanish liquor with a sweet and aromatic taste that goes perfectly with the bitterness of espresso. This is our drink of choice for a weekend brunch.
Now you have learned the difference between a flat white and a macchiato and you know that a long black and an americano are basically the same drink. We hope that after reading our guide, you are ready to go and order your next coffee drink with renewed confidence!