We have all been in a coffee shop and ordered our plain coffee when we saw someone come up and order the “Double Ristretto Venti Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Chocolate Brownie Iced Vanilla Double-Shot Gingerbread Frappuccino Extra Hot With Foam Whipped Cream Upside Down Double Blended, One Sweet’N Low and One Nutrasweet, and Ice”. How anyone could remember such an order, how anyone could expect the serving staff to remember such an order, and how anyone would care enough about their coffee to order such a drink boggles the mind. Yet perhaps they know something we don’t. Perhaps they know so much about coffee that they know the secret to the perfect one, or perhaps they are just a jerk. Either way, it can’t hurt to know a little bit more about coffee so that you can make an informed decision the next time you order. We are here to help.
The order noted above is actually the longest possible order you can make in Starbucks, so if there is a particular barista that you hate and you want to ruin their morning you could always order that although they may end up giving you a little extra ingredient just to say thanks. This is an important time to note that you should never annoy those who serve you food or drinks, they have all the power.
The first thing you should be aware of is beans. While there is a wide variety of beans available there are two key varieties that you should know; Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is the most popular of the two beans. It is said to be sweeter and has a more complex flavor. Robusta though has more caffeine and is cheaper. It has a more bitter taste. Quite simply if you are drinking a coffee for its taste go with arabica, if you are drinking coffee for its strength go with robusta.
That was the easy part. Now you need to learn all the varieties of coffee that can be made. Let’s not overload you today and just get you to know the important ones. The first is black and that is pretty self-explanatory, it is simply coffee and hot water. If you do want to sound like a jerk you could call this ‘cafe noir’.
A latte is the most popular coffee in the world. It is a shot of espresso, steamed milk, and a foam topping. You can get a shot of flavor added too which is very common and can be anything from vanilla to pumpkin spice. Cappuccino is pretty much the same but with more foam and less milk. It commonly comes with a sprinkle of cinnamon or chocolate on top.
An Americano is like a black coffee as it is an espresso shot diluted in hot water. If you are really tired you should order either a Doppio or a Red Eye. A doppio is a double shot of espresso while a Red Eye is a black coffee with an espresso shot added in. Mocha is the desired drink for all chocolate lovers. If you are ever in the Southern Hemisphere in either Australia or New Zealand then the most popular drink of choice there is a Flat White. A flat white is basically a cappuccino without the foam or chocolate sprinkles, it is an espresso with steamed milk.
An affogato is for those who love a desert as it is coffee served over ice cream or brownie and is simply gorgeous when done well. Finally, you should be careful if ever offered an Irish coffee as this is a coffee that is served with sugar and whiskey. It is fantastic on a cold night but not suitable for the kids.
There you have all the main coffees that you need to know. Of course, the list does go on and on and overtime as you develop more preferences you can start to delve into the depths of coffee options. For now, this should get you started.