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Discover Your Perfect Cup of Coffee

Did you know that about 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed globally every day? Coffee connects people from all around the world. There are so many different types, blends, and concoctions all varying from subtly sweet to the rich taste that I personally enjoy. Here’s a convenient crash course on how to decipher which coffee drink best suits your palette:

For starters, there are the two main variations of coffee — Arabica and Robusta. Arabica (which is the more common coffee bean) is sweeter in taste and more fragrant and tends to have a lower caffeine content than Robusta. Robusta has a more wood, burnt-rubber-like quality to it and has a very low acidity. However, this type of coffee bean can be very bitter and have a heavy body, oftentimes used in instant coffee. 

Quick fun fact: The coffee bean is not actually a bean. It is a seed that comes from the coffee cherries that grow on coffee trees. *Looks for coffee tree plants on Amazon*

Now that we covered the basics, it’s time to learn the barista lingo. Below is a list of over 15 different coffee beverages that can help guide you to finding the perfect cup of coffee:

#1: Black Coffee is a combination of water and coffee. This is served without any added flavors like honey, cream, or milk.

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#2: Espresso is a famous coffee originating from Italy. You can make it by forcing high-pressure steam through ground coffee beans. The final product should be a thick, strong coffee with creamy foam on top. Due to its thickness and high level of caffeine per unit, it is often a base for other coffee drinks such as an Americano or latte.

#3: Ristretto, Italian for "short," is an espresso shot made like regular espresso but with half the amount of water. The final product is a more concentrated shot of espresso with a slightly different taste. This drink typically has a fuller body and a less bitter taste than espresso.

#4: Americano is an Italian term for American coffee. It is believed that the name comes from the U.S. soldiers in Italy during WWII who used water to ration the scarce amounts of espresso available at the time. The base of the drink is espresso and a larger amount of hot water is poured over to make the espresso weaker. This turns a small shot of espresso into a large cup of coffee.

#5: Drip coffee involves dripping boiling water over ground coffee. The water passes through the filter and then into the pot. It is a slower process than making a regular espresso. However, you’ll get a stronger coffee in the end as opposed to a regular espresso shot.

#6: Doppio, or “double” in English, is a double espresso shot. It passes through a portafilter with a double spout. These days, doppio is often considered the standard shot of espresso in many drinks you might see at Starbucks or any coffee shop.

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#7: Flat white is a popular milk-based coffee consisting of espresso with a small amount of steamed milk. The espresso flavor still takes over the aroma, while the milk serves as a supporting, subtle taste.

#8: Cappuccino also consists of espresso and milk. However, there are two types of milk used. The beverage contains 1/3 of espresso, 1/3 foamed milk, and 1/3 steamed milk. You can serve it iced, hot, with cream instead of milk, or in other various forms. A cappuccino has a rich and bold taste, as any espresso would, but is toned down by the steamed milk.

#9: Latte is different from cappuccino because it contains a lot of milk, while cappuccino preserves the stronger espresso taste. A latte is not the same thing as a flat white, which is a very common misconception. Flat whites have much less foamed milk/bubbles. I would recommend this drink for beginners!

#10: Caffè breve, “breve” meaning short in Italian, is an American version of a latte which consists of 1/4 espresso, 1/2 steamed milk, and 1/2 milk foam. It is a bit thicker than the usual latte (due to the steamed half-and-half milk which increases the volume of the foam). It is considered so rich that there is usually no need to add sugar or other sweeteners. Most of the time, it is served as a dessert beverage.

#11: Macchiato is a strong coffee shot with just a hint of milk. Originally from Italy (and translating to stain or mark), it's safe to assume the universal understanding of a macchiato is an espresso shot with a small dash of milk. But depending on where you are in the world and what cup you're using, you may get a slightly different version of the drink. This is definitely one of my favorites!

#12: Cold brew coffee is the mixture of ground coffee with cold water, steered, and left in the fridge overnight. One of the main traits of cold brew is its lower amount of caffeine. Nitro Cold Brew has a creamy, beer-like feel, especially since it is typically served in a beer keg. The thickness comes from nitrogen, which is infused into the coffee.

#13: Bulletproof coffee is a mix of brewed coffee, coconut oil, and unsalted butter. It is very popular with people who are on a high-fat, low-carb diet and can serve as a substitute for breakfast. Sounds a bit gross if I’m being honest, but hey, don’t knock it till you try it!

#14: Affogato is a specialty coffee drink from Italy consisting of a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a glass with a shot of hot espresso poured over it. 

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#15: Turkish coffee is a traditional coffee drink served in the Middle East. It consists of fine ground coffee immersed in water, allowing maximum foam to form.

#16: Chai latte is espresso mixed with spiced tea and steamed milk. There are many different types of chai lattes. Many contain cinnamon to add a spicier taste that works well with the coffee.

#17: Irish coffee mixes hot coffee, whiskey, and sugar. It is one of the most popular derivatives of regular coffee in the world. 

#18: Vienna coffee is made by adding two shots of particularly strong espresso together before whipped cream is added as a substitute for milk and sugar. The Vienna is a mix of strong flavors of straight espresso with the smoothness of sugary cream. I am dying to try this one!

The next time you’re in line to order a cup of brew, spice things up a little and try something new.

Hello everyone! My name is Aemen (pronouns: she/her), and I am currently a 3rd year Junior Transfer student at UC Berkeley! My major is English with a minor in Public Policy. In my free time, I enjoy writing, listening to music, and hanging out with my friends. I also love listening to Investigative Journalism podcasts, my favorite is Serial!
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