The Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Coffee Drinks

Popular Types of Coffee Drinks

Coffee, a beloved drink made from the seeds of the coffee plant, has a rich history that spans continents and centuries. The journey from coffee beans to the cup of coffee we savor is a fascinating one.

The coffee drink, in its many forms, has become an integral part of cultures worldwide. Whether you’re a casual coffee drinker or someone who can’t start their day without a cup of hot coffee, there’s no denying the allure of this beverage.

The coffee is usually served in various forms, from a strong black coffee to a creamy coffee with milk foam on top. The method of brewing coffee can vary, but the essence remains the same: extracting the flavors from finely ground coffee beans or coarsely ground ones.

Some prefer their coffee made by boiling, while others opt for a different method of brewing coffee, like steeping coarsely ground coffee in cool or room temperature water to make cold brew coffee.

In this ultimate guide to different types of coffee, we’ll delve deep into the world of coffee drinks explained, from the beans to the brewing techniques, ensuring that by the end, you’ll be well-equipped to make coffee like a pro, whether you want to make cold brew coffee, a latte, or even an iced coffee at home.

Table of Contents


Originating from Italy, the espresso is a cornerstone in the world of coffee and one of the most popular coffee drinks. This concentrated shot is crafted by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans under high pressure.

Its intense and robust flavor is complemented by a signature golden creamy foam known as “crema.” Whether enjoyed on its own or as the foundation for other beverages, the espresso drink remains a favorite among coffee enthusiasts.

  • Origin: Italy
  • Description: Often considered the quintessential coffee experience.
  • Preparation: Hot water is forced through finely-ground coffee beans under high pressure.
  • Taste Profile: Intense and robust with a rich flavor profile.
  • Unique Feature: A golden creamy foam known as “crema” tops a well-made espresso.
  • Popularity: Served as a standalone shot or as the base for many coffee beverages. A favorite among coffee aficionados.


Born from the fusion of American GIs’ tastes and traditional Italian espresso during World War II, the Americano offers a lighter, more diluted coffee experience.

By adding hot water to espresso, the drink’s intensity is mellowed, resulting in a smoother sip that retains the espresso’s essence but with a different character.

  • Origin: A blend of American and Italian coffee cultures.
  • Description: A diluted version of espresso, offering a lighter taste.
  • Preparation: Espresso combined with additional hot water.
  • Taste Profile: Smooth and balanced, less intense than pure espresso.
  • Unique Feature: Retains the espresso’s essence but with a milder character.
  • Popularity: Loved by those who prefer a less concentrated coffee flavor.


A classic Italian coffee drink, the cappuccino strikes a harmonious balance between espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. The drink’s name is derived from the Capuchin friars, referencing the color of their robes which resembles the hue of the beverage.

  • Origin: Italy
  • Description: A three-layered coffee experience.
  • Preparation: One-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, and one-third frothed milk.
  • Taste Profile: Rich and bold from the espresso, yet creamy and velvety from the milk.
  • Unique Feature: Distinct layers when poured correctly, with a top layer of thick milk froth.
  • Popularity: A morning favorite in many coffee shops worldwide.


The latte, short for “caffè latte,” is a creamy coffee drink that emphasizes milk’s silky texture. With more milk than a cappuccino, it offers a milder coffee flavor, making it a popular choice for those who enjoy a creamier texture with their coffee.

  • Origin: Italy
  • Description: Espresso meets a generous amount of steamed milk.
  • Preparation: One part espresso to three parts steamed milk, topped with a small amount of froth.
  • Taste Profile: Mild coffee flavor with a dominant creamy milk texture.
  • Unique Feature: Creamier and milkier than a cappuccino.
  • Popularity: A top choice for those new to coffee or who prefer a milder taste.


Inspired by the flavors of the Yemeni city of Mocha, this drink is a delightful fusion of coffee, chocolate, and milk. The addition of chocolate syrup or cocoa powder gives the mocha its distinctive sweet taste, making it a favorite for those with a sweet tooth.

  • Origin: Yemen, inspired by the city of Mocha.
  • Description: A chocolate-infused coffee delight.
  • Preparation: Espresso combined with chocolate and steamed milk, often topped with whipped cream.
  • Taste Profile: A harmonious blend of bitter coffee and sweet chocolate.
  • Unique Feature: The only classic coffee drink with a chocolate base.
  • Popularity: A go-to for dessert lovers and those who enjoy sweeter coffee drinks.


The term “macchiato” translates to “stained” or “spotted” in Italian, aptly describing this coffee drink. A macchiato is essentially an espresso “stained” with a small amount of frothy milk. This gives the drink a strong coffee flavor with just a hint of creaminess.

  • Origin: Italy
  • Description: A strong coffee “marked” with a touch of milk.
  • Preparation: Espresso topped with a dollop of frothy milk.
  • Taste Profile: Predominantly bold coffee flavor with a slight milky undertone.
  • Unique Feature: Minimal milk, allowing the espresso to shine.
  • Popularity: Preferred by those who enjoy the taste of espresso but desire a touch of milk.


A ristretto is an espresso shot that’s pulled short, meaning less water is passed through the coffee grounds. This results in a more concentrated and bolder coffee flavor compared to a regular espresso.

  • Origin: Italy
  • Description: A concentrated, short-pulled espresso.
  • Preparation: Hot water forced through coffee grounds, but extracted for a shorter time.
  • Taste Profile: Intensely bold and robust.
  • Unique Feature: Uses the same amount of coffee but half the amount of water as a regular espresso.
  • Popularity: Favored by those seeking a more potent espresso experience.

Flat White

Originating from Australia or New Zealand (the exact origin is a matter of debate), the flat white offers a creamy coffee experience without the frothy milk cap found in lattes or cappuccinos. It’s made with microfoam, which is steamed milk with fine, velvety bubbles.

  • Origin: Australia/New Zealand
  • Description: A creamy coffee without the froth.
  • Preparation: Espresso combined with steamed microfoam.
  • Taste Profile: Smooth coffee flavor complemented by velvety milk.
  • Unique Feature: Absence of the thick froth layer, replaced by microfoam.
  • Popularity: Gaining global popularity, especially in artisan coffee shops.

Café au Lait

A French classic, “café au lait” translates to “coffee with milk.” It’s a straightforward drink made with equal parts brewed coffee and steamed milk, offering a milder flavor than espresso-based drinks.

  • Origin: France
  • Description: Simple and smooth coffee paired with milk.
  • Preparation: Equal parts of brewed coffee and steamed milk.
  • Taste Profile: Mild and balanced, neither too milky nor too coffee-dominant.
  • Unique Feature: Uses brewed coffee instead of espresso.
  • Popularity: A morning staple in many French households.

Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold water for an extended period, usually 12-24 hours. This method results in a coffee that’s less acidic and smoother than traditional hot-brewed coffee.

  • Origin: Unknown, but popularized in the USA.
  • Description: A smooth, cold coffee drink perfect for warm days.
  • Preparation: Coarse coffee grounds steeped in cold water over an extended period.
  • Taste Profile: Smooth, mellow, and less acidic than hot-brewed coffee.
  • Unique Feature: Brewed without heat.
  • Popularity: A summer favorite, often served over ice.

Nitro Coffee

Nitro coffee is cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen gas, resulting in a drink with a rich, creamy texture and a cascading effect similar to that of draft beer. The nitrogen infusion gives the coffee a naturally sweet flavor, often eliminating the need for added sugars or creams.

  • Origin: USA
  • Description: Cold brew meets nitrogen for a velvety texture.
  • Preparation: Cold brew coffee charged with nitrogen and served on tap.
  • Taste Profile: Smooth and slightly sweet with a creamy mouthfeel.
  • Unique Feature: Distinct cascading effect when poured.
  • Popularity: A modern favorite, especially in specialty coffee shops.

Irish Coffee

A delightful blend of coffee, whiskey, sugar, and topped with a layer of cream, Irish coffee is both a cocktail and a coffee drink. It’s known for its warming properties and the perfect balance of bitter coffee and smooth whiskey.

  • Origin: Ireland
  • Description: Coffee meets whiskey in this classic concoction.
  • Preparation: Hot coffee combined with whiskey and sugar, topped with a thick layer of cream.
  • Taste Profile: Warm and comforting with a kick from the whiskey.
  • Unique Feature: Served in a stemmed glass, with the cream poured over the back of a spoon to float on top.
  • Popularity: A beloved after-dinner drink, especially in colder climates.

Café con Leche

A staple in Spanish-speaking countries, “café con leche” translates to “coffee with milk.” It’s a strong coffee, often espresso, diluted with scalded milk in a 1:1 ratio.

  • Origin: Spain and Latin America
  • Description: A harmonious blend of strong coffee and milk.
  • Preparation: Equal parts of strong coffee and scalded milk.
  • Taste Profile: Bold coffee flavor mellowed by the milk.
  • Unique Feature: Typically enjoyed with a sweet pastry or toast.
  • Popularity: A morning ritual in many Spanish-speaking countries.

Red Eye Coffee

The Red Eye coffee is a combination of regular drip coffee with a shot of espresso, making it a caffeine-packed drink. It’s perfect for those looking for an extra boost.

  • Origin: USA
  • Description: Drip coffee amplified with espresso.
  • Preparation: A cup of drip coffee with an added shot of espresso.
  • Taste Profile: Strong and invigorating.
  • Unique Feature: Offers a higher caffeine content than regular coffee.
  • Popularity: Popular among students and professionals pulling all-nighters.

Black Eye Coffee

A step further than the Red Eye, the Black Eye contains two shots of espresso added to regular drip coffee. It’s a powerful concoction for those in need of a serious caffeine jolt.

  • Origin: USA
  • Description: Drip coffee supercharged with double espresso.
  • Preparation: A cup of drip coffee with two added shots of espresso.
  • Taste Profile: Intensely bold and caffeinated.
  • Unique Feature: Even higher caffeine content than the Red Eye.
  • Popularity: Chosen by those seeking maximum caffeine intake.


A cortado, which means “cut” in Spanish, is an espresso “cut” with a small amount of warm milk to reduce its acidity. The milk-to-coffee ratio in a cortado is typically between 1:1 and 1:2, and there’s no froth, making it a smooth and strong drink.

  • Origin: Spain
  • Description: Espresso softened with a touch of milk.
  • Preparation: Espresso combined with a splash of warm milk.
  • Taste Profile: Bold coffee flavor with a hint of creaminess.
  • Unique Feature: Lacks the froth found in other milk-based coffee drinks.
  • Popularity: Gaining traction in specialty coffee shops worldwide.


An Italian classic, “affogato” translates to “drowned,” which perfectly describes this dessert-coffee hybrid. It consists of a scoop of vanilla ice cream “drowned” in a shot of hot espresso.

  • Origin: Italy
  • Description: A delightful blend of hot coffee and cold ice cream.
  • Preparation: A scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso.
  • Taste Profile: The warmth of the coffee melts the ice cream, creating a creamy and rich treat.
  • Unique Feature: Sits at the intersection of dessert and coffee.
  • Popularity: A favorite summer treat in Italy and beyond.


“Doppio” is Italian for “double,” and it refers to a double shot of espresso. It’s a concentrated coffee drink for those who need an extra caffeine kick.

  • Origin: Italy
  • Description: Double the espresso, double the intensity.
  • Preparation: Two shots of espresso brewed into one cup.
  • Taste Profile: Intensely rich and bold.
  • Unique Feature: Offers twice the caffeine of a regular espresso shot.
  • Popularity: Commonly ordered by seasoned coffee lovers.


A lungo, which means “long” in Italian, is an espresso that’s been extracted with more water, resulting in a longer coffee. It’s less concentrated than a regular espresso but stronger than an Americano.

  • Origin: Italy
  • Description: An extended espresso for a milder flavor.
  • Preparation: Espresso brewed with more water for a longer extraction time.
  • Taste Profile: Milder than espresso but retains its core flavors.
  • Unique Feature: Offers a different dimension of the espresso experience.
  • Popularity: Enjoyed by those who find regular espresso too intense.


The breve is a creamy coffee drink made with equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. What sets it apart is the use of half-and-half instead of regular milk, giving it a richer texture and flavor.

  • Origin: USA
  • Description: A luxurious take on the traditional cappuccino.
  • Preparation: Espresso combined with steamed half-and-half and topped with foam.
  • Taste Profile: Creamy and velvety with a pronounced coffee flavor.
  • Unique Feature: The use of half-and-half for a decadent mouthfeel.
  • Popularity: A rich alternative to the classic cappuccino.

Caffè Crema

Caffè Crema, which translates to “cream coffee,” is similar to a lungo but has a longer extraction, resulting in a coffee that’s about the size of a regular cup of coffee. It’s popular in Switzerland, Germany, and Northern Italy and offers a milder flavor compared to espresso.

  • Origin: Switzerland, Germany, Northern Italy
  • Description: A longer espresso that fills a regular coffee cup.
  • Preparation: Espresso brewed with more water for an extended extraction, resulting in a larger volume.
  • Taste Profile: Smooth and mild, with the core flavors of an espresso but less intensity.
  • Unique Feature: Its name refers to the creamy consistency rather than any added cream.
  • Popularity: A staple in parts of Europe, offering a bridge between espresso and Americano.

White Mocha

The White Mocha is a twist on the classic mocha, using white chocolate instead of regular chocolate. This results in a sweeter and creamier coffee drink, often topped with whipped cream and white chocolate shavings.

  • Origin: USA
  • Description: A sweet and creamy coffee-chocolate fusion.
  • Preparation: Espresso combined with steamed milk and white chocolate syrup, often topped with whipped cream.
  • Taste Profile: Sweet white chocolate complements the boldness of the espresso.
  • Unique Feature: The use of white chocolate gives it a distinct flavor profile compared to the classic mocha.
  • Popularity: A favorite in many coffee shops, especially among those with a sweet tooth.

Cold Coffee Drinks

As temperatures rise, the allure of cold coffee drinks becomes undeniable. These beverages offer a refreshing twist to the traditional hot coffee, providing a cool respite on warm days. From the classic iced coffee to the trendy cold brew, cold coffee drinks have carved a niche for themselves in the coffee world.

Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is essentially hot brewed coffee that’s cooled down and served over ice. The process is straightforward: brew a strong cup of coffee, let it cool, and then pour it over a glass filled with ice. Some prefer to add sweeteners or flavored syrups to enhance the taste. The result is a chilled coffee drink that retains the flavors of its hot counterpart.

Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coarsely ground coffee in cool or room temperature water for an extended period, usually 12 to 24 hours. This method extracts the coffee’s flavors slowly, resulting in a beverage that’s less acidic and smoother than traditional iced coffee. Once the steeping is done, the coffee is filtered to remove the grounds, and the concentrate can be diluted with water or milk before serving. The unique aspect of how cold brew coffee is made gives it a distinct taste and profile.

Types of Cold Coffee Drinks

There’s a vast array of cold coffee drinks to explore:

  • Nitro Cold Brew: Cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen, giving it a creamy texture and a frothy head, similar to draft beer.

  • Iced Latte: Made with espresso and cold milk, this drink is a chilled version of the classic latte. The latte is a coffee drink that’s loved for its creamy consistency, and its cold version is no different.

  • Iced Cappuccino: A blend of espresso, cold milk, and foam on top. It offers the richness of a cappuccino but in a cold format.

  • Iced Mocha: Combining espresso, cold milk, chocolate syrup, and often topped with whipped cream, this drink is for those with a sweet tooth.

Cold coffee drinks have evolved over the years, with coffee shops and enthusiasts experimenting with flavors, brewing methods, and presentations. Whether you’re looking for a simple iced coffee to make at home or a more elaborate concoction like the flat white, which is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk, there’s a cold coffee drink for every palate.

Coffee Beans: The Heart of Every Coffee Drink

Every great cup of coffee starts with the right coffee beans. These seeds, derived from the coffee plant, are the foundation of every coffee drink made. The type of coffee bean used can significantly influence the flavor, aroma, and overall experience of the beverage.

Type of Coffee Bean

  • Arabica: Known for its sweet and soft taste, Arabica beans are the most popular type of coffee beans consumed worldwide. They offer a wide range of flavors, from sugary tones to tangy, wine-like notes.

  • Robusta: Robusta beans are more robust and have a stronger, often described as a more bitter taste than Arabica. They contain more caffeine and are commonly used in instant coffee blends.

  • Liberica: With a unique flavor profile that includes smoky or woody notes, Liberica beans are less common but offer a distinct coffee experience.

  • Excelsa: Often used to provide a tart, fruity profile in blends, Excelsa beans belong to the Liberica family but stand out due to their unique flavors.

How Coffee Beans Influence the Flavor Profile

The coffee made from different beans can vary in taste, aroma, and mouthfeel. Ground coffee beans, whether finely-ground coffee or coarsely ground coffee, release their flavors when hot water passes through them, as in drip coffee or when steeping coffee. The coffee grounds’ size, the method of brewing, and the type of coffee bean all play a role in the final cup’s taste.

For instance, a cup of black coffee made from Arabica might have a gentle acidity and pronounced sweetness, while one made from Robusta might be more potent and earthy. The coffee is made by extracting the essence of these beans, and the result can range from a light, floral note to a deep, chocolatey richness.

Coffee shops often source beans from various regions, each offering a unique flavor due to the soil, altitude, and climate where the coffee plant grows. This diversity ensures that coffee drinkers can explore a spectrum of tastes, from a coffee drink made with beans from Ethiopia’s highlands to one sourced from the volcanic soils of Colombia.

In the next sections, we’ll explore how these beans transform into the coffee drinks we love, from a simple espresso shot to complex espresso-based drinks.

The Art of Brewing: Coffee Makers and Techniques

The transformation of coffee grounds into a delightful cup of coffee is an art. The method of brewing coffee, combined with the type of coffee bean used, determines the drink’s flavor, strength, and texture.

From the traditional drip coffee method to the modern espresso machine, each brewing technique offers a unique coffee experience.

Drip Coffee

Drip coffee is one of the most common types of coffee made in households and coffee shops. Ground coffee beans are placed in a coffee filter, and hot water is poured over them.

As the water seeps through the finely-ground coffee beans, it extracts the flavors, resulting in a cup of coffee that’s aromatic and flavorful. The coffee filter plays a crucial role in this method, ensuring that the coffee grounds don’t end up in the final drink.

French Press Coffee

The French press, or plunger pot, is a popular method of brewing coffee, especially for those who prefer a strong coffee. Coarsely ground coffee is steeped in hot water for several minutes.

After steeping, a plunger is pressed down, separating the coffee grounds from the liquid. This method allows for a full extraction of flavors, resulting in a rich and robust cup of coffee.

Espresso Machines

Espresso is a coffee drink made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans under high pressure. The result is a concentrated coffee or espresso shot, which serves as the base for many other coffee drinks.

Espresso machines can vary from manual to automatic, but the principle remains the same: to extract the intense flavors from the coffee grounds in a short amount of time. A double shot of espresso, for instance, uses more coffee and is often preferred by those who love a stronger taste.

Whether you’re using a coffee machine, making an espresso with hot water, or trying a different method of brewing coffee, the key is to understand the nuances of each technique.

Some methods, like the cold brew, require steeping coarsely ground coffee in cool or room temperature water for an extended period, while others, like the espresso, are quick and intense.

In the upcoming sections, we’ll dive deeper into specific coffee drinks, from the simple black coffee to the creamy cappuccino, and understand how brewing techniques and ingredients come together to create these beverages.

Coffee Comparison

In the vast world of coffee, the subtle and sometimes stark differences between various drinks can be both intriguing and overwhelming.

From the robust intensity of an espresso to the creamy delicacy of a latte, each coffee type offers a unique experience. But how does one differentiate between a cappuccino and a flat white? Or discern the nuances between a cold brew and an iced coffee?

Our coffee comparison articles delve into these distinctions, providing insights and side-by-side analyses. Dive in to explore, compare, and perhaps discover a new favorite brew.

Conclusion on Coffee Drinks

In conclusion, coffee, a cherished beverage derived from the seeds of the coffee plant, holds a rich and storied history that transcends time and place.

From its humble beginnings as coffee beans to the myriad of delightful coffee drinks we savor today, this aromatic elixir has united people across continents and through centuries.

Whether you’re a devoted coffee connoisseur or simply enjoy the occasional cup, the world of coffee offers a diverse and captivating journey of flavors, traditions, and experiences.

So, the next time you savor your favorite brew, remember that you’re not just drinking coffee; you’re sipping a piece of history and culture that has evolved into an enduring global passion. Cheers to the enchanting world of coffee!


What is iced coffee?

Iced coffee is a type of coffee drink that is served over ice. It can be made with regular coffee that is chilled or with cold brew coffee.

What is black coffee?

Black coffee refers to coffee that is served without any additives such as milk, cream, or sugar. It is enjoyed for its bold and strong taste.

What are different types of coffee beans?

Different types of coffee beans include Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. Each type has its own flavor profile and characteristics.

What is drip coffee?

Drip coffee is a type of brewing method where hot water is poured over ground coffee that is held in a paper or metal filter. It is one of the most popular ways to make coffee.

What is a coffee recipe for red eye coffee?

To make a red eye coffee, you can combine equal parts brewed coffee and espresso. It is a strong and bold coffee drink.