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Life

What Coffee is Right for You?

At some point in your life, coffee becomes your saving grace. The smooth rich taste of Heaven in a cup. It gets you through your first all-nighter to cram for your exams, waking up ridiculously early to go to work after a night of staying up too late, and coming to the point in your life when sitting at a coffee shop to do work is what you consider fun. But how do you know what coffee to order without paying for something and risk wasting it because you don't like it? How do you order without sounding like you don't know what you're talking about?

Well, I am about to give you the rundown of what the most common classic coffee beverages contain, the differences between them, and how you can easily find the perfect cup of Heaven for you. If you think a Starbucks Frappuccino will be on this list, you're sadly mistaken because you might as well order a milkshake at that point, so this is not the article for you.

Let's start with the Basics: Espresso

Phone In Hand Coffee Sightglasscoffee
Amy Cho / Spoon

You can't have most of the standard coffee beverages without the shots of espresso. What makes espresso different than regular brewed drip coffee? When you think of a regular cup of coffee, you probably have the image of a Keurig maker, coffee pods, or a drip coffee maker where you insert the filter. The main difference between regular drip coffee and espresso is the levels of caffeine and the flavor.

HOW IT'S MADE:

  • Made by forcing near boiling water through finely ground coffee beans for a certain number of seconds.
  • The flavor and strength of the shot is determined by how long the shot was pulled. This means how many seconds you let the espresso machine brew the shot for.
  • Contains 64 mg of caffeine per fluid ounce. So roughly, this is how much caffeine is in a single shot.
  • For comparison, a fluid ounce of regular hot brewed drip coffee contains only 27 mg of caffeine.
  • Espresso is a thicker liquid than drip coffee.

HOW IT TASTES:

  • Definitely more bitter than drip coffee. If the shot is pulled correctly it should have a rich smooth taste with hints of chocolate. Some shots can have a more citrus-like taste.
  • If pulled incorrectly, it will taste extremely bitter, watery or have a burnt taste.

Nothing is more classic than a latte

Latte Art
Kelsey Emery / Spoon

If you're wanting to try coffee just because you saw a pretty picture of it with some art design in the milk, you were looking at a classic latte. Lattes can be made hot or iced, but the hot lattes are where the pretty designs are made.

HOW IT'S MADE:

  1. Anywhere from 1-3 shots of espresso are first added to the cup. Usually the size you order will determine the number of shots you get in it, but the barista can always add extra shots (expect a small charge) or make them with less shots upon request.
  2. If you order your latte hot, then steamed milk is added on top of the shots. What allows the milk to be thick is the adding of air to the milk while it is being steamed. This makes the milk essentially expand slightly in size. The thicker consistency allows the barista to create art and designs in the drink while skillfully separating the more watery part of the milk from the thick paint like consistency of it. Perfectly steamed milk will have a glossy smooth look with no visible air bubbles (which takes lots of practice from what I've found out through personal experience) and a very thin layer of foam. If you order your latte iced, the milk is still poured on top of the shots, but the milk remains cold and not steamed and therefore no latte art.

HOW IT TASTES:

If you're new to coffee, this is a good starting drink for you. You will mostly taste milk or any milk alternative with the slight taste of the coffee mixed in. The taste of the coffee won't overwhelm you and you can gradually move to stronger drinks that are actually more coffee! These are nice and creamy coffee beverages and are often sweeter as well since you can add flavor syrups to them.

Cappuccino

Cappuccinos are what I consider a fluffy latte. If you want the taste of a latte, but enjoy very foamy drinks then a Cappuccino is the drink for you. These only can be served as a hot beverage.

HOW IT'S MADE:

  1. They contain the shots of espresso the same way a latte does.
  2. The only difference between a latte and a cappuccino is the way the milk is steamed. When the barista steams the milk for a cappuccino, there is a lot of air added to the milk to make it into a foam rather than just steamed milk. The foam is very large and lightly sits on top of the espresso.

HOW IT TASTES:

Due to the consistency of the milk, there is a distinct separation of the shots of espresso and foamy milk. You can definitely more distinctly taste the espresso once you finish drinking the foam compared to the latte which allows the flavors of the milk and espresso to mix more. This is great if you're wanting to grow more into liking the taste of strong espresso.

Americano

Now this is what I'm talking about when I say coffee. True champs who love the taste of espresso will go for an Americano. Once you start appreciating the taste of actual coffee itself then you can challenge yourself to order one. This is another drink that can be ordered either hot or iced.

HOW IT'S MADE:

  1. There's only two ingredients to this beverage: the first will be the shots of espresso. This is where it starts to become more important that the barista pulls a proper shot to ensure you taste the right notes of flavors that are released from pulling the shot. If the shot is pulled for too short of a time it can taste very bitter, whereas if it's pulled for too long the espresso will taste burnt (neither of which taste good).
  2. The only other ingredient to this is water! Yup, you read that right. Water is poured over the shots. This slightly waters down the strong bitter flavor, but untimately allows for the shots to be made into a larger beverage.

HOW IT TASTES:

If I'm being completely honest, don't order this beverage unless you know you love the taste of straight black coffee. In the world of coffee, the term "black" refers to there not being anything added to it. No milk, no cream, no sugar. This allows you to really start tasting and identifying how different shots will vary in flavor, and not to mention, have higher levels of caffeine. Overall, this drink is very bitter but is a personal favorite of mine.

COLD BREW

Cold Brew is NOT the same as iced coffee. Cold-brew refers to the way the coffee was brewed.

HOW IT'S MADE:

Standard hot coffee is brewed within seconds to a minute or two using hot water. On the other hand, cold-brew is made by letting the coffee grounds sit for 24 hours in cool or room temperature water. Since it is made as a very strong concentrate, it is oftentimes watered down. It is usually served as a half concentrate and half water (of equal amounts). Almost nobody drinks cold brew straight unless you want to make some extremely unpleasant faces.

HOW IT TASTES:

Since cold brew is made with cool temperature water, the true bitterness of the beans isn't really able to be pulled out in the flavor you get. Cold-brew will generally have a naturally sweet taste compared to hot brewed coffee.

there's no going back now

Welcome to the world of coffee! Now that you know the basics of coffee, you're hooked for life. Coffee truly is an art form and with its many ways of being brewed, it gives your taste buds a whole array of flavors and ways of meeting your caffeine needs. I now recommend going and trying each of these classic orders to discover which you like best and why you like it. Then you can have fun experimenting with adding different flavors, sweeteners, and milk! Have fun finding your Heaven in a cup!

Hey there! It's no doubt that a cup of iced coffee (or 3) and fun and stylish outfits make life a whole lot more fun since the coffee adds just a little extra excitement to the outfit picking process… or a little hyperness depending on how much caffeine you had! It's definitely no doubt that I love expressing myself through fashion and my daily outfits. It's a way I love to inspire others to be confident in how they want to present themselves each day. My love of coffee has definitely gotten me through to my junior year of college here at UTSA. I'm a Business Marketing Major, so connecting with other talented individuals is something I very much enjoy. Let's not forget the daily workout for our self-care time and a healthy meal to fuel our day! If you want to grab a cup of coffee (I'm probably already drinking mine) and stick around, I can't wait to connect with you more!
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