Today we are going to make you a coffee connoisseur. Get your pen and your paper ready for Coffee 101. We have 3 modules to get through in this series; types of coffee, the things you didn't knew mattered, and the perfect cup.
Module 1: Different types of coffee (which confuses everyone)
GOAL: to learn what the difference really is between all the coffee choices at your local coffee shop.
Local coffee shop menu got you confused? Starbucks having overwhelmingly amounts of choices? We got you.
First, let's talk about what can make a coffee style different from another:
The beans (roasting: dark roasted, medium roasted, and where they are sourced from: Cuba, Brazil, Columbia etc.)
The brew (espresso, cold brew, nitro brew, drip coffee, pour over)
The serving method (with milk, with steamed milk, with hot water, over ice, etc.)
NUMBER 1: BEANS
Isn't it already a little neater and easier to understand? Let's begin with the beans themselves. There are two types of beans that are responsible for the most of the world's coffee consumption: Arabica and Robusta.
"For decades no debate existed among specialty roasters. All good coffees were Arabica (though the reverse was never true). Robusta was bad. "
There are some smaller coffee roasters today that make a mean batch of Robusta Coffee beans, but Arabica is the way to go. We get ours from Gaviña Coffee, who serve 100% Arabica every time. The Arabica trees are much more high-maintenance and require a specific growth environment, but that is also why you get such complex and delicious flavors from it.
Why it matters what type of roast you get.
Roasting of Coffee Beans occurs in stages. Did you know that coffee beans are not naturally brown? They are green when they are plucked. It is the roasting of the bean that decides the shade of brown as well as the flavor.
Here is what it means when your barista asks if you prefer your coffee light or dark roasted.
The darker the roast, the less of the beans original flavor does it conserve. Instead, darker roasts take on flavors from the roasting. A good comparison is a piece of steak, some really like the juices of a medium rare steak and tasting the original flavors of the meat, while others prefer the flavor of the grill settling into the steak.
How the origin of the bean affects the flavor is too much to get into today, but if you want to read more on the topic Java Presse has a great article here.
NUMBER 2: THE BREW
The brew can be said to be what most people refer to when they think "different coffee types" or partially what you see on the menu at a coffee shop.
Here are some common types you see and what they mean:
Espresso: Arguably the most common type you see at a coffee shop. The espresso brew method is based on grinding the coffee beans, tamping it, and then shooting hot water through it for 20-30 seconds. The result? A coffee shot that packs a punch and plays well with others.
Cold Brew: One of the most popular brew types in the summer - and we can certainly understand why. Cold brew is made by putting a gigantic coffee filter inside a tub or pitcher, then coffee is poured and finally water. Unlike other coffee types, what makes cold brew so special is that it brews for hours which makes it especially smooth and easy to drink. Which is kind of dangerous because you get way more caffeine with Cold Brews, but you'd never know by the taste of it.
Drip Coffee: The simplest of them all perhaps? Something you drink in your office or when you make coffee at home. Drip Coffee is made by grinding beans and putting them in a coffee filter which then will run hot water through it and drip the brewed coffee into the desired container. Don't write off drip coffee though! A good bean will make the drip coffee of your dreams!
NUMBER 3: THE SERVING METHOD
"How do you take your coffee?" used to mean "sugar or milk?", but now it means a whole lot more. Do you like yours steamed, on ice, blended? Here is the vocabulary you need:
A latte is made from adding a little bit of air to your milk and then steaming the rest. The result should be a dense micro-foam and milk the consistency of paint. This is then poured over the espresso shot.
Fun fact: If you pour the milk first and fill up your cup nearly to the top with milk, and then the espresso - it is a Latte Macchiato.
A cappuccino is similar to a latte, but there is a lot more air added to the milk. Whereas latte is 15/85 in foam and milk, cappuccino is 50/50.
An Americano is a double shot of espresso filled to the brim with hot water.
A Flat White is essentially a latte but with less milk and micro-foam which gives it a stronger coffee flavor.
A Cortado is a double shot of espresso made with a drop or two of steamed milk to soften the natural bitterness of coffee.
A Mocha is a latte made with added chocolate syrup.
Other confusing terms:
Iced Coffee vs. Iced Latte: Ice coffee is made with cold drip coffee while ice latte is made from fresh espresso shots cooled and added milk.
Iced Americano: Cooled espresso shots over ice cubes. Added cubes will naturally create an Americano.
That was all for now! Keep an eye out for Module 2.