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The many cups of joe: An easy guide to different types of coffee

A true coffee aficionado has that one brew that is their daily go-to beverage, that much-needed cuppa to kickstart the day. While not all of us are coffee connoisseurs, it does pay to know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino, a mocha and a macchiato? With so many varieties on offer, we decided to give you a crash course on the different types of coffees.

Types of Coffee


Image: Courtesy Starbucks

The espresso, also known as a Short Black, is the purest coffee experience you can get. Espressos are intense, full-flavoured, and relatively bitter in taste. To master a shot of espresso, timing is essential. To make one shot, shoot boiling water under hot pressure while brewing finely ground coffee at 7-9 grams per shot. This process itself is called ‘pulling a shot’. To get a good brew, the hot water needs to pass through a span of 25-30 seconds. The creamy froth of reddish-brown colour forms air bubbles producing a unique aroma and that’s a sign of a perfect shot.

Whilst an espresso is enjoyed by some on its own, it is also the foundation for a majority of other coffees on this list. Consider the espresso the king.

Why order this?
If you need a quick hit – it’s the most intense and effective.


Image: Courtesy White Horse Coffee

The Americano is a favourite morning drink among caffeine lovers. Caffe Americano is basically an espresso that’s been diluted with hot water. It’s strong and bitter just like an espresso, but with a higher water content and no milky texture. Globally, it is often referred to as filter coffee, simply due to its brewing method, which is using a filter machine or drip coffee.  

Why order this?
A non-shot form, it’s a great alternative for when you want to drink a larger cup that’s still somewhat strong.

Long Black

Image: Courtesy Coffee Gear Spy

A Long Black is often confused with an Americano because it looks similar. Commonly found in Australia and New Zealand, the Long Black is made by pouring two shots of espresso (or ristretto) over hot water (the process here is the key). This way the beverage retains the cream and is less voluminous, giving it a strong flavour. Make it by filling your mug with water, and adding an espresso shot

Why order this?
If you like Americanos, but need something stronger.  


Image: Courtesy Starbucks

Ristretto is extremely bitter and thick, and is made from a short shot of espresso with finely ground coffee beans and half the amount of water. The result? The ‘restricted’ shot contains more of a concentrated flavour with the comfort of a certain sweetness you wouldn’t find in an espresso.

Why order this?
If you enjoy intense coffee but don’t like espressos. 

Espresso Macchiato

Image: Courtesy Nespresso

Consider this the espresso’s edgy sibling. A macchiato is an espresso with a dollop of foamed milk on top. Do not confuse it with a latte macchiato though. Macchiato here is more of a milder espresso, and you can opt for either short macchiatos or long macchiatos. It’s not as strong as your espresso but is surely more intense than your cappuccino. Macchiatos are often referred to as ‘stained’, because it’s like there’s a ‘stain’ of milk on your espresso.

Why order this?
If you want an espresso with a twist.

Latte Macchiato

Image: Courtesy Starbucks

The emphasis for this coffee is the milk. A latte macchiato is milk stained by a shot of espresso, where the coffee has more milk than a latte and less than an espresso. A short macchiato might be bitter, but it’s less intense than an espresso shot. A long macchiato contains a double shot of espresso that makes it strong and bitter in taste.  

Why order this?
If you want an espresso, but desire something slightly moderated or subdued by a pinch of milk.

Flat White

Image: Courtesy Starbucks

The Flat White is another popular breakfast drink to kickstart your day. Flat whites are very similar to cappuccinos but lack the flavour of chocolate that a cappuccino usually brings to the table. It is rather a dairy-heavy beverage with a strong taste of coffee that is made with a thin layer of microfoam. The drink is very popular in Australia and New Zealand, and interestingly, both often claim to have invented this creamy beverage.  

Why order this?
It’s for those who simply love milk with a pinch of tasteful coffee.


Image: Courtesy Starbucks

Mocha, also known as mochaccino, is where coffee meets chocolate. It’s a latte with added chocolate, mellowing down the bitterness of an espresso shot. It’s also topped with chocolate powder to give it a little zest. The best part? It blends in seamlessly with marshmallows to satisfy your sweet cravings. It’s made with a single shot of espresso, with steamed milk, milk foam, and chocolate powder  

Why order this?
When you want to drink hot chocolate but also need a little caffeine in your system.


Image credit: Starbucks

When it comes to different types of coffee cappuccino steals the show by being the most popular coffee drinks in the world. This three-layered drink contains a shot of espresso, a shot of steamed milk, and then a layer of frothy milk. Cappuccinos are often decked with chocolate too. With a creamy texture and a higher caffeine content than a latte, this is an easy-going option for coffee lovers.  

Why order this?  

If you prefer a caffeine-heavy beverage with milky texture.


Image: Courtesy Getty

Among different types of coffee, latte is the mildest one of all the espresso-based drinks. A latte has less milk than a cappuccino, and tends to sway more towards a sweeter side. Newbies can easily order a latte if they are just getting into the caffeine routine. You can also add flavours like vanilla, chocolate, or even hazelnut to customise it the way you like.  

Why order this?  

If you love your milk more than your coffee. 


Got kids? Get them a babyccino. This cute sip is made up of warm milk with cocoa powder or cinnamon without any (actual) coffee.  

Why order this?

To make your baby a part of your coffee club. 

The many cups of joe: An easy guide to different types of coffee

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