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Complete Beginner’s Guide to Coffee and Espresso Drinks

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Whenever you go to a coffee shop, you might have noticed there can be an incredible amount of drinks. You may have found you have no idea what to even order. But, for a coffee shop owner, it can be even harder keeping up with the number of drinks out there.

So for everyone’s benefit, let’s look at all of the popular coffee drinks out there as well as their recipes.

Coffee Brewing Styles

There are many different ways to brew coffee, and depending on how you do it, the taste and even the texture of the brew can be entirely distinct. Here are a few ways to brew coffee that you can try yourself either in a café or at home.

  • Drip Brewing: In this method, coffee grounds are placed in a filter basket and, in turn, into an automatic brewing machine. Gravity pulls hot water through the grounds and filters into a waiting carafe. This is the most common method for brewing coffee today.

  • Cold Brew: This method uses cold water to brew coffee. Ground coffee beans are placed in the water and left to steep for a far longer time than with hot brewing. However, the result is a far less bitter coffee than with hot brewing.

  • Pour Over: With pour-over brewing, boiling water is slowly poured over a filter basket of grounds. This will drip down and create a smooth, powerful brew.

  • Espresso: Brewing espresso requires a specialty machine. These machines pressurize and heat water and push it through a filter of fine coffee grounds. This results in an extremely concentrated coffee beverage and is the most common base for specialty coffee drinks.

  • Ristretto: This is essentially a more concentrated form of espresso. It is made with half the water of espresso brewing.

Coffee Bean Types

There are two kinds of coffee beans most used in America today. These are Arabica and Robusta. These result in a very different brew, so let’s take a look at these two beans.


Arabica is the most popular type of coffee bean on the planet. These beans have a sweeter and flavorful taste. These beans are more popular for drinking coffee black. Unfortunately, these beans do not have as much caffeine as Robusta.


Though not as popular as Arabica, Robusta beans grow better in many parts of the world and are a cheaper alternative. These are commonly used with milk and iced coffee beverages. Perhaps, the biggest advantage of these beans is their high caffeine content.

Types of Hot Coffee Drinks

There are a ton of different types of coffee drinks you can make. So, whether you are new to making specialty coffee drinks or are an experienced pro, you can probably learn a new type of drink or two. So, here are some popular types of hot coffee drinks to enjoy.


With black coffee, all it takes is ground beans steeped in hot water. This is typically served warm.

Café au Lait

The café au lait is a simple coffee beverage. This starts with plain black coffee and then mix in a little warm milk, and you’re done.


Espresso is made with a specialty espresso machine and often served on its own. However, it is also used as the base of most specialty coffee beverages.


The mocha is a delicious coffee beverage made with chocolate. This is then served with steamed milk and then topped with foam.


The ristretto is made similarly to espresso but with less water. This results in a sweeter flavor than a traditional shot of espresso.

Red Eye

The red-eye was named after overnight flights, and this is certainly a good way to wake up from a poor night of sleep. This brew contains a full cup of coffee and a shot of espresso.


Irish coffee is also a bit different because it is an alcoholic coffee drink. Irish coffee is made with black coffee, sugar, and some whiskey. This is served with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

The Types of Iced Coffee

Now that you know some of the possibilities for hot coffee, it’s time to discuss iced coffee. After all, what would summer be like without a delicious Frappuccino or iced coffee to beat the heat? Let’s discuss a few ways you can enjoy a brew on ice.

Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is as simple as pouring ice into a cup of coffee and serving with milk and sweetener.

Iced Espresso

An iced espresso, just like iced coffee, starts as simple as icing an espresso brew. However, just like iced coffee, you can add milk, cream, and sweeteners. The same applies to other specialty espresso drinks such as the mocha, americano, macchiato, and latte.

Cold Brew

This brew is one of the most popular types of iced coffee nowadays made by brewing coffee grounds in cold water for up to 24 hours, depending on the desired strength. Once the brew is done steeping, you just need to add milk, cream, and sweetener as desired, and you’re done.


This brew popularized by Starbucks is made by blending ice and coffee and topping it with whipped cream and syrups.


The nitro is a cold brew made with added nitrogen bubbles. This results in a thick frothy coffee brew.


A mazagran coffee is another alcoholic coffee drink. This is made with espresso, rum, sugar, and lemon.


A frappe is made by mixing instant coffee powder, water, sugar, and ice. Then shake it up in a cocktail mixer.

Types of Expresso Drinks

An espresso is a concentrated, flavorful coffee drink that originated in Italy. This beverage is made with hot pressurized water forced through fine coffee grounds. This makes espresso rich textured and gives it a layer of foam.

This coffee is the base of many coffee drinks. The biggest difference between the many drinks made with espresso comes down to the proportion between the three main ingredients in these beverages’ espresso, steamed milk, and foam. Here are some of the most popular espresso drink recipes out there.

Short Black Espresso

A short black espresso is simply a plain espresso and will serve as the foundation for all other espresso drinks.


This is the most popular kind of coffee beverage there is. A latte is made of a shot of espresso topped with steamed milk and a little foam. Though often served plain, it can be made with any kind of flavoring.


An americano has a similar taste to plain black coffee. This drink is made with a shot of espresso that is then diluted with hot water.


A cappuccino is made just like a latte but with more foam and less steamed milk. It is often made with variations such as cream or a flavor shot and topped with cocoa powder or cinnamon.


The macchiato uses an espresso base topped with a small amount of milk foam.


The Galão is a Portuguese brew similar to a latte. However, it is made with twice the foamed milk.


An affogato is a bit different than the delicious brews we have been describing. The affogato is a coffee desert. This delicious, delectable starts with a brownie, then one or two shots of espresso are poured on top, and then a scoop of ice cream.


On its own, espresso can be an overwhelming drink for many, and this is where a cortado comes in. In this recipe, warm steamed milk is added in equal measure to balance out the espresso and lower the acidity.


The doppio is simply a double shot of espresso and a great way to start your day.


The lungo is an espresso made with a longer pull. This results in a larger brew with more caffeine but less strength.

Flat White

A flat white is similar to a latte or a cappuccino. However, it does not have foam or toppings. Instead, it is made with micro-foam, which unfortunately requires an espresso machine with a steam wand. Simply insert the steam wand into a container of milk until it forms a fine consistency with small bubbles

Café Latte

This delectable brew is made with espresso and about three times the steamed milk. Top this a little bit of micro-foam.

Vienna Coffee

Vienna coffee is made of two cups of espresso topped with whipped cream and chocolate powder. Sometimes chocolate syrup is added to the bottom of the cup before adding the espresso.


A breve espresso is made by pouring one shot of espresso and then pouring in an equal amount of a steamed mixture of cream and milk

Types of Coffee Makers

So now you know a lot of types of coffee and how they are made, but now let’s talk about the different types of coffee makers. There are a lot of methods out there, but let’s look at some of the most popular.

French Press

This is an easy-to-use manual coffee maker. All you have to do is add your coffee grounds to the press. Next, pour in hot water over the coffee grounds and let it steep for a little bit. Then, all you have to do is press down the plunger and pour it out using the spout.


A percolator used to be the most common way to make coffee, but it fell out of fashion back in the 1970s due to its habit of making overly bitter brews. A percolator works by drawing boiling hot water up into the brewing chamber, where it steeps the coffee grounds. This process cycles until the coffee is served.

Often these are used over a stovetop, but electric models are used. These coffee makers are best used with a medium roast and if you don’t want too powerful of a brew, try to brew the coffee for as short a time as possible.

Single Serve

Single-serve coffee machines have become extremely popular in the last few years. All you need to do is choose a prefilled filter cartridge or buy a reusable one and insert it into the machine. Fill it with water, and you’re done.

These devices only make a single cup which is useful for offices or single-person households, but they often suffer from a weak cup. If you choose a reusable filter, you can solve this by adding much more to the filter. A good rule is to add about three times the amount contained in the non-reusable filters.

Drip Brewer

This is the coffee maker most households have sitting on their kitchen counter. The electric coffee maker is easy to use. All you have to do is scoop your grounds into a filter, insert it into the brew basket, fill it with water, and start the machine. In a few minutes, you will have your delicious brew.

Pour Over

Pour overs use special devices called coffee drippers, where you will insert your filter and then the coffee grounds. All you have to do next is slowly pour your hot water through your dripper.

This method allows you to control your brewing process very closely. Unfortunately, the filters are a bit more pricey, and the process does require a bit more effort. For those looking for a good cup, though, it’s definitely worth it.

Cold Brew

Most cold brew coffee makers look like nothing more than a pitcher with a filter inside it. But, you don’t need much more to make a cold brew. The best thing about these is the simplicity. All you have to do is add the coffee grounds, fill the pitcher with water, and wait.

The bad part of this is the time it takes to brew. You may take up to 24 hours of steeping to get a cup of that sweet nectar. But it’s also easy to store a whole pitcher in the fridge to make sure you have some on hand for a while.

Moka Pots

A Moka pot is pretty similar to a percolator, and both generally require a separate heating surface to brew. But, the Moka pot brews a very different beverage in a slightly different process.

This coffee maker uses steam to force boiling water through the grounds. Once it runs out of water, it’s done, and it quickly needs to be removed from the heat. This will avoid a burnt taste, unlike with a percolator, where it will simply keep recirculating over and over. The result of this process is a delicious espresso-like coffee drink.


So, that was a lot of information, but hopefully, now you know a lot more about coffee than when you started. The types of ways to enjoy coffee don’t end here, but this should give you a lot of material to work from.

No matter what you enjoy, there is a type of coffee for you out there waiting to enjoy. So, don’t hesitate to try out any of these recipes and find one you enjoy.

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