A College Student's Guide to Coffee

If you’re a college student, then it’s very likely that you’re addicted to coffee already, and if you aren’t...you probably will be soon. Even if you don’t like the taste of plain coffee, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like a frappuccino or a flavored iced latte, since they don’t taste very strongly of coffee. But what actually are those drinks? How much coffee is actually in them, and why can’t we taste it? Well, it’s me, your local coffee-obsessed barista, here to give you the low-down of your caffeine-filled options!

Drip Coffee

A drip coffee is your most basic form of coffee. This is the kind we typically brew at home, whether we use instant coffee, a French Press, a Keurig, or anything else. Black coffee is very bitter and earthy, which is why we often sweeten it with sugar, milk, or cream. Coffee beans are ground into fine granules the size of sand, and hot water is poured over them, catching the flavor, and that hot water is the coffee we drink. You can also drink drip coffee over ice if you prefer it cold!

Cold Brew

A cold brew coffee is another version of iced coffee, but it isn't made the same way. A typical iced coffee is brewed hot coffee put over ice, while cold brew is actually brewed cold. It has to sit and steep for a longer time (at my cafe, it sits for 14 hours), and it is slightly sweeter and has more caffeine than a regular iced coffee.


Espresso is a highly concentrated coffee with a stronger flavor, a thicker texture, and a higher caffeine content. When you order an espresso, it often comes in a tiny cup, because that one shot (1 fluid ounce) is all you need to keep you wired for the day.


A latte is a favored way of drinking espresso by people all over the world. It contains espresso, steamed milk, and a little bit of milk foam at the top of the drink. Depending on where you’re getting your latte from and what size you get, there are different numbers of espresso shots in the lattes you drink. The flavor is lessened, however, by the milk, and we can add any flavors to these. Most coffee shops have flavors like caramel, mocha, and vanilla that can be added, and some have others like hazelnut, almond, coconut, and more! Next time you want a flavored latte and want to try a different flavor, ask your barista what the different options are. This is also a drink that you can have iced, but it will just be espresso, milk, and a flavor, without the foam (as the foam is caused by steaming the milk to heat it up!).


A cappuccino is similar to a latte in that it has the same ingredients of espresso, steamed milk, and foam (and an optional flavor), but the proportions are different. Instead of a lot of steamed milk and a little milk foam, a cappuccino is almost all foam. There can be a little bit of steamed milk or none at all, depending on how the coffee drinker likes it (if you want no milk and all foam, ask for your cappuccino to be dry!). This is one drink that you won’t be able to drink iced in a lot of places, however, as cold foam is not a common thing that coffee shops have.

Blended Coffee

A blended coffee drink like a Frappuccino (which goes by different names depending on the coffee shop) often has a little bit of coffee in it, but not a ton. They usually include some kind of base, like a powder, that can be added into the blender. They don’t always, however - this base just helps thicken the mix. Ice, milk, and the flavor of your choice is added into the blender, and once the drink is blended and poured, whipped cream is usually added to the top. This recipe changes depending on the coffee shop, so if your favorite blended drink is unique, ask your barista for the recipe! It’s likely you’ll be able to make it yourself at home.


A macchiato is a drink that changes depending on where you drink it. A traditional Italian macchiato contains espresso with just a dash of steamed milk on top. At popular coffee chains like Starbucks, a macchiato is kind of like an upside-down latte, in which the milk goes on the bottom and the espresso is added on top. At my cafe, we don’t carry a macchiato - we make a Caramel Macchiato, which is a latte with caramel and vanilla. We carry the name because the flavor is popular, but it's made like a regular flavored latte.


An Americano is a drink for those espresso lovers who need more than just a tiny shot. An Americano is espresso with water, and can be hot or cold.

Red Eye

When you’re having one of those days where you’ve got tons of deadlines to meet and you can’t seem to wake up, a Red Eye is the choice for you! This drink is espresso with drip coffee, so it’s full of caffeine! You can also make it even stronger by adding more shots, creating a Black Eye with two shots, a Purple Eye with three shots, or a Blue Eye with four shots (these names may change depending on the cafe you’re at, so make sure you clarify how many shots you want!).

Coffee, coffee, coffee! We all need and love it. Next time you’re craving a coffee but want to try something new, try out one of these!

HCXO, Lola

*All images courtesy of Google Images