Types of Coffee – The Ultimate Guide

Coffee drinkers love their coffee as much as wine drinkers love their wine! Coffee drinkers can be very pernickety when it comes to their favorite brand.

Whereas wine drinkers are happy to try any different type of wine, an avid coffee drinker will stick with what they love.

There are in fact quite a variety of different coffees which you can try, depending on how adventurous you are. In fact, there are coffees which are only served in other countries, so this is a good chance for a devoted coffee drinker to try something else. Here are the major types of coffee you can try around the world.


What is coffee?

Coffee drinks are made by first grinding the beans, and secondly, brewing some water. The ground beans are added to the water and steeped, either using a drip method (seen in drip coffee makers), filter method or put under pressure such as in a, espresso machine. Slow brewed coffees are then referred to as ‘coffee’. Basically, all coffees are based on either the ‘coffee method’ or espresso. They are all served in different strengths, some have milk or cream added, others have steamed or foamy milk added. Some have alcohol added and others have syrups to sweeten them.

There are various coffee machines which have become very popular lately such as espresso machines, great big Gaggia machines and percolators. Because of these machines, coffee has become increasingly popular in small coffee shops and coffee as a form of social life has grown in most countries.

Some coffees are served as decaffeinated and this is when some of the content of the coffee bean has been removed so the coffee is not quite so strong. Sometimes known as ‘decaf’ you will find these are readily available in every form that regular coffee is. Some people prefer decaffeinated coffee so that they are not consuming too much caffeine so you will find that this is now readily available in coffee shops.

Where does coffee come from?

The original coffee beans came from Africa and Madagascar, the Comoros, Mauritius and Reunion. The coffee plant was exported from these countries to many others and these days, coffee plants are grown in nearly 80 different countries in the world. The most common countries where coffee is grown are Southeast Asia, India, Africa and the equatorial areas of America.

Once the coffee berries have ripened, they are picked and processed and dried. The dried coffee seeds are what we know as coffee beans. These are then roasted to different levels to give a desired flavor. These roasted beans are then ground to give us the coffee we drink when added to almost boiling water.

Because coffee is slightly acidic, it may have an effect on us when we drink it and this is due to the caffeine content, which gives us the slight ‘buzz’. Normally coffee is served hot, but cold and iced types have become very popular recently. Clinical studies show that coffee in moderation has some beneficial effects for humans and long term drinkers may have a lower risk of cognitive decline.

The earliest records of coffee being drunk go back as far as the 15th century in Yemen. It was discovered that in Arabia the coffee seeds were roasted and brewed very similarly to how coffee is prepared now. The seeds were first exported to Yemen from East Africa where Yemeni traders began to cultivate them. By the 16th century coffee had reached Persia, Turkey and north Africa. Later it would spread to Europe and finally to the rest of the world.

These days, coffee is a major export commodity. It is also one of the most valuable commodities exported by some developing countries. Unroasted coffee beans are called Green coffee and this is one of the most traded items in the world. As with any product, there is controversy with the way the lands are cleared to start a coffee plantation, but coffee expansion using fair trade and organic coffees are increasing rapidly.

Types of coffee

Also known as drip or filtered coffee, this method is when hot water is poured slowly over ground coffee beans. The water then drips through the grounds, absorbs the oils and flavors, and passes through to the bottom of the container. This method does not involve any pressure on the water passing through the grounds, gravity does the work here. Sometimes paper filters catch the particles and only the filtered water passes into the container underneath. Paper filters were first produced by Melitta Bentz in Germany back in 1908 to stop the coffee grounds getting into the cups below. Mesh filters are also available and these stop wastage as they can be reused for many years.


You may know of this as percolated coffee. Typically, a percolator is used for this method. The water is continuously boiled through the coffee grounds. The water works through the coffee until the desired strength is reached. The percolators are normally electric but can also be stove top types. Percolating reached its peak of popularity in the 1970’s but it was then replaced by drip coffee makers. Soon there were no more companies that manufactured these percolators. It is very rare to see one anywhere now.


Espresso machines are literally popping up all over the place now. The best coffee maker forces a small amount of almost boiling water and steam through the grounds under pressure. Espresso coffee is normally a little denser than regular coffee and has a creamy foam on top. It is often the base of other coffee types such as lattes, cappuccinos and Americanos. The Gaggia machine is probably the most common and well known of the espresso machines. These were developed in Italy in the 1950’s.

Iced coffee

Examples of iced coffee that you are probably familiar with are iced lattes and iced mochas, although there are many more which are being introduced all the time. Iced coffee was created as an alternative summer drink and is served in a tall glass with ice cubes. Syrups can be used to flavor it and milk or cream may be added to the drink.

Iced coffee is normally brewed a little stronger than regular coffee and not simply hot coffee which has been poured over ice to cool it down. That would just dilute the coffee and make it bitter. Iced coffee is brewed cold and yields a completely different flavor. Cold brewed coffee has a slightly reduced acidic flavor which helps to enhance the natural sweetness and other flavors. Iced coffee is usually poured over ice or into cod milk, flavors are hen added in the shape of syrups or sweeteners. It is these sweeteners which make the iced coffee ‘seasonal’. You may have come across some like ‘pumpkin spice’ and ‘gingerbread’ which tend to be on sale around Halloween and Christmas.

To make 6 ounces of iced coffee:

In a jug, whisk together 1/3 cup ground coffee and 1 1/3 cups of cold water. Make sure there are no lumps at this stage.

Cover tightly with either a lid or some cling film and place in the refrigerator for no less than 5 hours. This is better left overnight but not longer, as it will start to turn bitter.

Strain through a coffee filter into a tall glass filled with ice cubes. This should be done by gently pushing through the filter with the back of a spoon. You may at this point add a splash of your favorite syrup and stir in some milk. You may choose to let the milk float on top. The choices are yours!

Coffee in the USA

Coffee has become increasingly popular in the USA, even though it has always been a very well drunk beverage. There are now chains of coffee chops who offer seasonal coffees and these are gaining in popularity.

  • Cappuccino: After espresso, this is the most popular coffee in the States. It is one of the coffees which has espresso as a base and then has a creamy foam added on top. The foam is the main characteristic of this coffee. Although it still has the strength of the espresso, it is softened by the luxurious foam.
  • Ristretto: This is the purest form of espresso and is made from a single shot. Ristretto was designed to make you taste the aroma and fullness of each coffee bean. This is a very strong coffee, because it is brewed with the smallest amount of water. It is normally drunk with a glass of water next to it because it is so strong.
  • Affogato: This is almost a dessert dish so possibly not for drinking in the mornings. It is made with one scoop of vanilla ice cream in a small bowl with espresso coffee poured over it.
  • Macchiato: This drink uses the basic espresso as its foundation with a little milk poured on top. There is not normally a lot of milk on the top, in fact it comes from the Italian word meaning stain or spot. It is a strong cup of coffee with a milk stain on top. You may also find it combined with syrups like caramel which sink to the bottom, leaving you with a sweetness at the base and strong coffee topped with a small amount of milk.
  • Doppio: A great choice for strong coffee lovers! It is brewed the same way as an espresso but has two shots extracted instead of one. It is also normally drunk with a glass of water on the side.
  • Americano: This drink has one shot of espresso with hot water then poured over it. You can order it with two shots if you prefer it stronger. Because it has a large amount of water poured over it, the taste is similar to American drip coffee. If large amounts of strong coffee are what you like, then this one will suit you very well.
  • Lungo: This is something that is halfway between espresso and americano. Prepared as espresso but using twice as much water ensures that the taste is in between them. Although you will have the taste and aroma, it is a very soft drink.
  • Mocha: This is a truly delicious coffee! Prepared with one espresso shot, with chocolate syrup added and steamed milk. And if that was not enough, you find that whipped cream is added on top! If you love coffee and chocolate, then this is a must for you to try!
  • Latte: If you prefer your coffee with milk added to it, then a latte should be your first choice. Made from either one or two espresso shots and then topped with a good mount of milk it has a creamy taste with gentle coffee tones. Always a good choice for new coffee drinkers.
  • Red Eye Coffee: This type of coffee is made when espresso is added to regular drip coffee. Some people are never sure whether it is an espresso or a drip but it does have a good caffeine kick to it. This is the coffee that you drink if you need to stay awake ass it has a kick like a mule!
  • Flat white: This is made with a single shot of espresso, then has steamed milk added on top. You can ask for two shots if you prefer it stronger. It can be a good replacement for a latte, if that is not available.
  • Cortado: A little hot milk poured over freshly brewed espresso will give you a cortado. While you will find it has the strength of espresso, it has a far less acidic taste. You may think that this is a macchiato but in fact the difference is in the amount of milk that they take. This is a very different taste.
  • Breve: This is a variation of a latte in that instead of having all milk added, it has a mixture of milk and cream. This is sometimes called a’50:50’ because of the milk to cream ratio.
  • Espresso con Panna: This is either one or two shots of espresso with a lot of whipped cream on the top! While you still get the espresso kick, you also have the luxurious fullness of whipped cream.
  • Long Black: When the espresso is brewed in a cup with hot water inside it, you will get a Long Black. It tastes similar to an Americano, but there is a subtle difference. Normally served with a cream top to it, which is the main difference between the two drinks.

Coffee in Italy

Italy: the espresso was invented in 1884, by forcing water through finely ground coffee. It forms the base of many a coffee drink. In Italy, the basic rule is that after 12 pm you do not drink coffee with milk in it. That is thought of as a morning drink. Espresso is probably one of the most famous drinks in the world.

Coffee in the UK

Often known as Irish Coffee, this was first made in Ireland and was not served in a cup but rather in a glass. It is prepared with string coffee poured into the glass, whisky and sugar added and stirred in, and lastly a layer of cream is floated on top. The sugar ensures that the cream stays afloat. This drink was invented by the head chef Joseph Sheridan, at Foynes in County Tyrone.
The UK has followed America in that it now has many coffee shops and chain shops which sell coffee in all the forms you can imagine. Seasonal coffees are very popular, with Christmas being a major speciality coffee time. Peppermint mocha lattes are served, also gingerbread and pumpkin spice lattes. Sometimes the toppings vary from whipped cream to marshmallows, or sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg. flavored coffees are extremely popular, at this time of year.

Coffee in Germany

Surprisingly, tea or coffee are the drink of choice in the mornings in Germany. Johann Sebastian Bach was quoted as saying as far back as 1732 that if you wanted to give him a treat, then pour him a cup of coffee. Germans prefer coffee over tea in the mornings. Before proper coffee was imported, the people used to drink imitations made from malt or chicory and it was not until the prices of tea and coffee fell drastically in the 19th century that common folk could enjoy decent coffee. For many years, it was considered the privilege of the rich but when slave labour was introduced into Europe’s colonies, the prices fell and everyone could enjoy coffee.

Coffee in France

The typical French drink in the morning is Café au Lait. This is prepared with equal amounts of coffee and steamed milk., The tradition is that both the milk and the coffee be poured into the cup at the same time to avoid any layers which may form. The difference between a café au lait and a latte is that the latte is made with espresso and the café au lait is just made with strong coffee.

Coffee in Turkey

Coffee drinking has been a ritual in Turkey for centuries since the introduction in 1555 by Syrian traders. There is a saying in Turkey ‘To drink one cup of coffee together guarantees forty years of friendship’. Turkish coffee is made by using a small pot to boil water with coffee and add sugar to it to the desired sweetness. In Turkey, the sweetness levels are from 1 – 6, which is extremely sweet to strong and black. Sugar is not added after the preparation and the result is a very, strong thick concentration of coffee.

Coffee in Spain

Originally coffee came to Spain from Turkish immigrants. Very little coffee was ever grown in Spain. The Spanish did however, develop a method of roasting that produces a very dark almost oily black bean which is what is typically known as Spanish Roast, or Dark French Roast

Possibly the coffee that most people imagine when they think of Spanish coffee is the cortado This is a very popular drink in Spain and Portugal. The cortado is based on an espresso but is served with a small amount of milk. Normally drunk at breakfast time and between lunch and dinner with a snack after siesta time. Spain has many different types of coffee, most of which you can order in any bar or restaurant or coffee shop.

Most tourists when they first visit Spain, will ask for white coffee and this is actually café con leche, the translation is coffee with milk. After a few days, they then realise that there are many more types of coffee in Spain and some are far more exciting than normal coffee with milk. It is a typical mid-morning event in Spain to see people drinking coffee in one form or another, along with a glass of cognac. Most tourists do not ever try a café solo as this is very strong and served black. It is a taste that is acquired.

One coffee that is very regional in areas of Spain is Café Asiatica. This is just like dessert in a glass! Started with an espresso, a shot of brandy is then added, then a liquor, with a dash of condensed milk, a little milk and some coffee beans. This is served in a large brandy bowl, or a similar bowl shaped glass and is one of the most delicious coffee variations you will find in Spain. Each region has its own different style of this coffee but they are all delicious. Not many tourists are aware of this coffee but it is well worth asking for.

Different types of Spanish coffee:

  • Café Solo: this is the most common type of coffee in Spain. It is served in a tiny cup or glass, and is extremely strong black coffee.
  • Café con leche: the direct translation means coffee with milk. This is often served as the first cup of coffee for the day, although tourists may drink it at any time. It is half café solo and half hot milk and often served in a long glass or cup. Often the milk will be frothed up first and poured on top of the coffee so that it is piping hot.
  • Café Bombon: this is a different way of serving café con leche but far more delicious, as instead of milk, it has a layer of condensed milk which is poured into the coffee. It is mixed and does not need any sugar added.
  • Café Americano: this is served in a long glass. It is made very much like café solo but with a small amount of milk on top.
  • Café cortado: this is a strong coffee with a small amount of milk.
  • Café con hielo: this is a great drink for the summer months. You may know it as iced coffee. In Spain, you will be served a glass of normal coffee with a separate glass with ice in it. It is up to you then to pour your coffee over the ice.
  • Café Manchado: this is where you have a cup of mostly milk to which a small amount of coffee is added.
  • Café Carajillo: this is one of the Spanish coffees that has alcohol added to it. This is a café solo with a small amount of brandy. Either rum or whisky may be used instead. If this is served in the authentic manner the brandy will be lit so the alcohol burns off first, then the coffee will be added.

Benefits of Coffee

Surprisingly, coffee is quite good for us! It is loaded with antioxidants and has several beneficial nutrients which are good for you. Studies have shown that people who drink coffee have a much lower risk of some diseases.

Here are some of the benefits of drinking coffee:

  • Coffee helps you to burn fat: caffeine is the ingredient that is found in almost every fat burning supplement! Caffeine has been proven to burn fat naturally. Caffeine also boosts metabolism by
    3-10%. Caffeine can also increase fat burning by up to 10% in obese people and up to 25% in lean people.
    In an article in the Huffington Post about health benefits you can read about the studies showing that coffee is good for us.
  • Coffee contains essential ingredients: many of the nutrients of the coffee bean make it all the way to the final product.
  • A single cup of coffee contains: 11% RDA Riboflavin (vitamin B12), Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) 6% RDA, Manganese and Potassium 3% RDA, Magnesium and Niacin (B3) 2% RDA. This may not seem like a very large amount to you but if you drink 3 – 4 cups of coffee a day then the amounts become significant.
  • Coffee improves energy levels: because it contains the stimulant caffeine you will feel less tired and have more energy. When you drink coffee, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and then travels to the brain. Advanced studies have shown that coffee improves various functions of the brain including memory, mood, energy levels, reaction times and overall cognitive functioning.
  • Coffee may lower the risk of Type II Diabetes: this disease currently affects some 300 million people and this disease elevates blood sugars. Coffee drinkers have a significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Coffee drinkers are up to 50% less likely to get this disease. Studies show that each cup of coffee drunk daily reduces the risk by 7%. Coffee drinkers have a far lower risk of diabetes than someone who abstains from drinking coffee.
  • Caffeine can Improve Physical Performance: because caffeine stimulates the nervous system it sends signals to the fat cells to break down body fat. It also increases adrenaline levels in the blood. Adrenalene is the ‘fight or flight’ hormone which makes our bodies ready for physical exertion. Caffeine ensures that the fat cells break down body fat, which releases them into the blood and makes them available as fuel. Caffeine may improve any physical performance by up to 12%. Small wonder then, that people who work out drink a cup of coffee before heading to the gym.
  • Caffeine can lower the risk of Parkinson’s Disease: After Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s is the next most common neurodegenerative disease. Studies have shown that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of developing this disease, with the reduction in risk between 30 – 60%. People who drink decaffeinated coffee do not have a lower risk and it appears that the caffeine itself lowers the risk.

    In an article by the Mayo Clinic Parkinson’s Disease is greatly reduced by drinking coffee.

  • Coffee has protective effects on the liver: People who drink 4 or more cups of coffee per day have up to 80% lower risk of contracting cirrhosis, in which the liver is largely replaced by scar tissue caused by diseases like hepatitis and fatty liver disease. Coffee drinkers have a far lower risk of developing cirrhosis.
  • Coffee may protect from Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia: there is no known cure for this disease which is the most common neurodegenerative disease and the main cause of dementia in the world.
    Several things contribute to the prevention of the disease, namely healthy diet and exercise. Drinking coffee has been shown to also be effective, with studies showing that coffee drinkers have a 65% lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Coffee may lower the risk of Stroke: studies have shown that coffee does not raise blood pressure or the risk of heart disease. There is evidence that coffee drinkers – particularly women – have a reduced risk of heart disease. Studies have also shown that drinking coffee lowers the risk of strike by 20%.
  • Coffee drinkers have a lower risk of some cancers: coffee appears to protect against liver and colorectal cancers. These cancers rank as number three and four in cancers which cause death. Coffee drinkers have up to 40% lower risk of liver cancer and people who drink 4 – 5 cups of coffee per day have a 15% lower risk of contracting colorectal cancer. Drinking coffee lowers the risk in both these cancers.
  • Coffee is a great source of antioxidants: in any nation where western food is consumed, coffee may be the healthiest part of the diet! This is because coffee contains huge amounts of antioxidants. Most people who eat a western diet get more antioxidants from coffee than they do from fruit and vegetables, thus making coffee one of the healthiest foods available!
  • Coffee fights depression: coffee makes you happier. In studies carried out it was found that women who drank 4 or more cups of coffee a day had a 20% lower risk of being depressed. People who drank 4 or more cups a day were also 53% less likely to commit suicide. Coffee appears to lower the risk of depression dramatically, and greatly reduce the tendency to commit suicide.
  • Coffee may possibly help you live longer: because coffee plays such a significant part in the reduction of diseases and depression, it seems that coffee drinkers will live longer than non-coffee drinkers. Coffee drinkers have a lower risk of premature death than non-coffee drinkers.

Interesting Facts

Most people think that drinking coffee is just that – drinking coffee. Actually, there are many truths, and possibly some myths related to the whole coffee drinking experience. Some of them are believable while others should be taken with a pinch of salt. What is true is that there is more to drinking coffee than meets the eye. It is more than just a cup of hot water with ground coffee beans in it, drinking coffee is a whole different experience. That is the reason why there are so many coffee followers who go to great lengths to drink a cup or two every single day.

In Turkey, it is legal for a woman to divorce her husband if he does not provide her with her daily quota of coffee.
Scandinavia has the world’s highest per capita annual coffee consumption. They drink a staggering 26.4 pounds of coffee per person per year!
In Europe coffee used to be known as Arabian Wine
In Turkey and Greece coffee is always served to the oldest person first.
Instant coffee accounts for 13% of all coffee drunk in the world.
It is our sense of smell that makes our final judgement on which coffee we like better.
Regular coffee drinkers are 30% less likely to suffer from asthma.
Japan has been selling iced coffee in cans since 1945.
Coffee became the replacement drink in the early 1400’s when the Koran forbade alcohol.
It takes 42 coffee beans to make just one espresso.
Men drink more coffee than women (1.7 cups for men and 1.5 cups per day for women)
In Italy espresso is never drunk during meals, as it is considered to be a separate event.
Chocolate was first added to coffee in the 1600’s by the Europeans
New Year’s Resolutions mean that decaf sales are highest in January
Three quarters of all the caffeine in the USA comes from coffee drinks
A coffee cantata was written as far back as 1732 by Bach.
Most coffee is drunk at breakfast (57%), then between meals at 34% and only 13% at other meals.
63% of coffee is sweetened with sugar or syrup, and only 37% is drunk black.
In parts of Africa raw beans which have been soaked in water and spices, are chewed like candy.
Worldwide, coffee is the most popular drink, with over 400 billion cups drunk per year.
The Japanese have been known to bathe in coffee grounds fermented with pineapple pulp to reduce wrinkles and improve skin.
Australians consume 60% more coffee than tea.
Voltaire, the French philosopher, reportedly drank fifty cups of coffee a day.

Gifts for coffee drinkers

Here’s a gift for the most choosy coffee drinker. They will be delighted with a
Gaggia classic espresso machine. Even the most discriminating coffee drinker will be proud to have this in their kitchen.

For the person who loves pressed coffee, this
French Press Coffee Maker and Stainless Steel Coffee Scoop Set will make a great gift.

An essential part of getting the delicious foam on top is the
hand held milk frother which is a must in any coffee lover’s kitchen

To keep your coffee warm on the way to work or just running errands, the stainless steel coffee tumbler is a great item to have at hand.

It is always good to have extra mugs when unexpected guests arrive. This
6 piece mug set and stand is just the thing to ensure that everyone gets a good cup of coffee.


Why do we love coffee so much? The answers are many and varied. Some people will say they just love the boost that a cup of strong coffee gives them. Others will say that it makes an excellent end to a meal. People have grown accustomed to the taste of coffee and to the idea of having it as a part of their daily routines. Seasonal flavors are another reason why coffee has become so popular.

Many people just love having a cup of coffee at a certain time of day, whether it is before breakfast, after a meal or during the afternoon. Socially, it’s a great drink to have with friends. Coffee reduces stress, helps fight depression and is full of antioxidants.

Last, but not least, coffee drinking is ‘an experience’. With hundreds of types and flavors now readily available, and coffee shops on every corner, it comes as no surprise that it is so popular.

Whatever your reason for having a cup of coffee, you will find a type and a flavor that suits your palate perfectly and gives you an enjoyable experience every time you drink it!