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20 Different Types of Coffee Drinks Explained

Do you order the same two or three items every time you hit up the coffee shop because you have no clue what anything else on the menu is? You’re not alone. And we’re here to help.

Learn about all the most common (and some not-so-common) coffee drinks. That way, you can start branching out to find your true favorites. From black coffee to cortados, ristrettos, and affogatos – here are 20 different types of coffee drinks, broken down for easy consumption.

Different Types of Coffee Drinks You Can Order at a Local Shop

Ready to take your semi-bland mornings and make them fresh and full of flavor? Consider this guide your “coffee bible” – guiding the critical life choices you make every time you’re waiting in line at the coffee shop.

1. Black Coffee

You probably know this one. Black coffee consists of ground coffee steeped in hot water. Also known as “café noir” (coffee without cream or milk), black coffee is the most straightforward type of java.

There are several ways to make black coffee. You can order a pour over for a pure, balanced cup. Some shops offer black coffee made in a French press, which also produces quality black coffee. Others simply use a traditional drip coffee machine to brew a larger batch at one time (which may not always make it to you as fresh as the first two options).

2. Espresso

Espresso is the foundation for many other coffee drinks on the menu. Also called a “short black,” a shot of espresso is one ounce of highly concentrated, finely ground black coffee. You can order it alone if you enjoy very bold coffee in small doses. Or your barista may ask if you want 1 or 2 espresso shots in your drink. A double espresso is also called a doppio.

3. Americano

An americano is an espresso combined with hot water. You can order this hot or iced. The result is a black cup of coffee (or iced coffee) with a slightly different flavor than a regular cup of joe.

4. Cold Brew

Cold brew is renowned for its low acidity and natural sweetness. Baristas will add coarse coffee grounds to cold water and let it steep for up to 24 hours. This creates cold brew concentrate. Next, they’ll add water or milk to make your cold brew coffee drink of choice.

5. Nitro Cold Brew

Guide to nitro cold brew vs. regular cold brew

Nitro cold brew is a newer drink that hit the market in the early 2010s. It’s simply cold brew infused with nitrogen. Coffeehouses serve it on tap like beer, and a creamy foam forms on top during the pour. But here’s the real kicker: you don’t need to add any ice to your glass because the nitrogen naturally keeps it nice and cool.

6. Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is just what it sounds like – a cup of regular java with ice added to cool it down. A popular drink, especially in the summer, you can order iced coffee black or with added cream, milk, and flavoring syrup.

7. Latte

A latte is a shot of espresso served with about 8 ounces of steamed milk and 1 centimeter of foam on top. Lattes have more milk than cappuccinos and flat whites. A plain latte – without added flavor – has a slightly sweet taste. It’s less bitter and acidic than black coffee. Flavored lattes, like vanilla and caramel, are often some of the most popular menu items.

8. Cappuccino

Cappuccinos, like many other popular coffee shop drinks, originated in Italy. Baristas make them with 1 or 2 shots of espresso, 2 ounces of steamed milk, and 2 ounces of steamed foam. You can think of it as a 1:1:1 espresso, milk, and foam ratio. They’re creamy and indulgent – with a thick foam layer (and maybe a sprinkling of chocolate on top if you’re feeling fancy).

9. Flat White

The flat white hails from Australia and New Zealand. It’s like the cappuccino – comprised of espresso, steamed milk, and a thin layer of microfoam – but it has a higher concentration of milk to espresso (4:1). The foam on top is as flat as your barista can make it, creating the perfect surface for coffee art.

10. Cortado

A cortado is a balanced cup of espresso and warm milk, added to reduce the coffee’s acidity.  The ratio is 1 shot of espresso to 1 ounce of warm milk with a centimeter of foam to top it off.

11. Breve

A breve is yet another espresso drink – with added style. It’s both rich and creamy and uses half-and-half instead of milk. Your barista will take a shot of espresso and add around 3 ounces of steamed half-and-half and a thin layer of foam on top.

12. Macchiato

A macchiato in its purest form is 1 shot of espresso with a dollop of steamed milk on top. “Latte macchiatos” are what we frequently get from commercial coffee shops like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. These often consist of a larger ratio of steamed milk to espresso with added flavor shots.

13. Ristretto

A ristretto is a darker, stronger version of the espresso shot. Your barista will prepare it with half the amount of water used for standard espresso. Coffee connoisseurs may order this drink for higher quality, more concentrated, sweeter, and less bitter espresso flavor.

14. Café au Lait

Café au lait is the French term for “coffee with milk.” Using regular joe instead of espresso, baristas use a 1:1 ratio of coffee to scalded milk. Scalded milk is heated to a specific temperature (a near boil) and then cooled. The result is a more flavorful and thicker tasting drink.

15. Red Eye

A red eye is a standard cup of black coffee with an added espresso shot. Next time you need to catch that 3 am flight, the red eye will keep you awake for it.

16. Black Eye

The black eye takes things even a step further – with two shots of espresso added to a standard cup of coffee. Out of all the different types of coffee drinks, this one is by far the strongest.

17. Affogato

Now we’re getting into the dessert coffee drinks. An affogato consists of a shot or two of espresso and a scoop of vanilla ice cream! You might want to save this one for your after-dinner sweet treat.

18. Mocha

A mocha is made like a latte with added chocolate (either syrup or cocoa powder). In the winter, you’ll often see peppermint and salted caramel mochas for those who love to indulge around the holidays. Mochas can taste like hot chocolate – rich, creamy, and delicious – but with an added kick of caffeine.

The recipe is 1 shot of espresso, 1-3 ounces of steamed milk, 1-2 ounces of chocolate, and 2 centimeters of foam to top it off (or whipped cream if you want to go all out).

19. Irish Coffee

Irish coffee is black coffee, sugar, whiskey, and whipped cream. You may not find this one at your typical coffee shop, but your favorite restaurant may craft the concoction for you. You can also make it easily at home to share with all your friends.

20. Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee originated hundreds of years ago in – you guessed it – Turkey. You can make it by boiling water, steeping very fine coffee grounds, and adding sugar for extra sweetness. The result is a rich brew that’s highly caffeinated.

Order Your Favorite Drink at Fathom Coffee

Now that you know all the different types of coffee drinks on the menu, it’s time to try them out! We can’t wait to welcome you into our shop if you’re in the Virginia Beach area. If you don’t live nearby, you can find specialty, small-batch coffee right on our website to craft amazing drinks at home.

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