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A Guide to Coffee Drink Types (Coffee 101)

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How many times have you approached a coffee shop counter with doubts in your mind of what all these coffee drinks on the menu really are? In this guide, we will help you understand the shots of espresso.

Not everyone is familiar with the different types of coffee drinks. Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world and has different ranges of complexity to it. 

Most of the coffees are made with small variations in the ingredients and the flavor changes according to it. Some of the variations can be:

  • Using milk foam.
  • Using steamed milk.
  • Making it extra hot.
  • Making the coffee cold using ice.
  • Using different kinds of milk such as semi-skimmed, skimmed or full-fat milk. 
  • Using syrups.

Popular hot coffee drinks:

  • Black
  • Latte
  • Americano
  • Cappuccino
  • Espresso
  • Macchiato
  • Mocha
  • Ristretto
  • Flat White


Anyone who is getting started with coffee should first try the black coffee. It is one of the most basic coffees made with ground coffee beans soaked into hot water and to be given warm. It also goes by the name of cafe noir.


Latte is one of the most popular coffee drinks. You will mostly find it in almost all the coffee shop menus. It is made using one part coffee, three parts milk and a touch of foam over the top. It can also be drunk plain or with different flavors such as vanilla. It has a creamy and velvet texture to it. 

You might have seen different arts being drawn on top of the coffee, it is mostly done on a Latte coffee and is also known as Latte Art.


Americano is similar in taste to black coffee. This drink consists of one part coffee diluted into two parts hot water. Generally, the coffee or espresso is poured first and then topped with hot water. Few people also prefer it with hot or cold milk.


Cappuccino is basically a Latte but consists of more foam than the milk. It consists of equal parts of coffee, foam and milk. Chocolate, cocoa powder or cinnamon can also be sprinkled on top.


Espresso is one part coffee and mostly served solo. Almost all the coffee drinks use Espresso as the foundation. The technique to make espressos is to pass water through fine ground coffee at high pressures. Espressos are rich in flavor and have an aroma to them.


Macchiato is an espresso drink with foam on top. It is also popularly known as dry cappuccino. Mainly due to the lack of milk as an ingredient. It is also a short drink due to it being milk less.  


If you like chocolate then this coffee drink is for you. It is made with one teaspoon of chocolate, one part coffee, one part milk and one part foam. It was named after a city in Yemen for its coffee marketplace. It is similar to a Latte but with chocolate and is sweet in taste.


Ristretto is basically an espresso but uses less hot water. Due to this, it tastes sweeter instead of bitter like an espresso drink. It contains highly concentrated espresso. You can think of it as a short shot of espresso coffee.

Flat White

Flat White is similar to a Latte but has lesser foam and is small in volume. It is made with two shots of espresso and topped with microfoam milk. Due to less foam, it has more coffee in comparison to the milk.

Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is basically any coffee that is served chilled. It is generally poured hot over ice as sugar doesn’t melt easily in cold drinks. There are many variations across different countries around the world.

Top iced coffee drinks:

  • Iced Coffee
  • Iced Espresso
  • Iced Americano
  • Cold Brew
  • Frappuccino
  • Nitro
  • Mazagran

Iced Coffee

This is a basic coffee with ice. It is mostly served with a small amount of milk or sweeteners.

Iced Espresso

Iced Espresso is similar to Iced Coffee except it uses Espresso beans. Iced Espresso can be drunk without any addition to it or with small amounts of milk, cream or sweeteners.

Iced Americano

Iced Americano is made by pouring espresso directly on the ice and then topping it with iced water. It will be slightly bitter in taste and have a strong coffee flavor.

Cold Brew

Cold Brew is loved due to it’s sweet and smooth flavor. It is made by mixing ground coffee with cold water. Then they are steeped for a few hours depending on how strong the coffee should be. You can add cold milk, cream or chocolate to it before serving. The concentrate you get after steeping can also be stored up to 2 weeks and used later on.


Frappuccino is trademarked by the Starbucks Corporation. It is basically a blended coffee drink with whipped cream and flavored syrups over the top.


It is a cold brew coffee with nitrogen bubbles and has consistency as a Guinness. Due to the infusion with nitrogen gas, it tastes rich and silky. 


Mazagran originated in Algeria around the 1800s. It is referred to as the original ice coffee by the locals. A Mazagran drink is made using coffee, lemon and sugar. Sometimes people also prefer it with rum.


With millions of cups of coffee being drunk every day, there is no doubt that coffee is one of the most preferred drinks. With slight changes in ingredients, you can tweak the final taste of coffee according to your liking. With so many different types of brews and beans, there are endless possibilities with the types of coffee drinks you can make.

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