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A Brief Guide to the Different Types of Coffee

Over two million cups of coffee are consumed across the world every day. With such a huge global coffee culture, it is no wonder there are so many different types of coffee.

A Brief Guide to the Different Types of Coffee

If you’re used to drinking the same thing day after day, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about branching out and expanding your coffee palate.

Types of Coffee Beans

There are four main types of coffee beans: Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. Unless you’re shopping in a very boutique store, you won’t come across the second two that often.


Although this type of coffee bean has less caffeine than Robusta, it is the preferred choice among coffee drinkers. This is due to its smooth, sweet taste and lack of bitterness.

Arabica beans are quite difficult to grow and therefore are often marketed at a higher price point.


Robusta is characterized by its strong, almost bitter flavor. It is a hardier bean than Arabica and has a strong resistance to disease and harsh conditions.

Robusta is often used for espresso drinks, instant coffee, and in many coffee blends.

Roasting and Brewing

Flavor characteristics don’t end with the type of coffee bean. Roasting and brewing methods also play a key role in bringing out the unique undertones of the coffee.

Light roasts tend to have a higher caffeine content and are often quite acidic. Medium roasts have a well-rounded or balanced taste and are known for their rich aromas. Dark roast coffee is generally medium or full-bodied and often spicy in flavor and have a slightly lower caffeine level.

If you’re looking for a bitter or smoky coffee with low caffeine content, then an extra dark roast is the way to go. Regardless of roast level, if you want to assure quality make you should always buy beans from the best fair trade coffee brands.

The range of brewing methods is extensive. Each of the following methods produces a slightly different taste.

  • French press
  • Drip coffee
  • Pour-over
  • Espresso
  • Cold-brew
  • AeroPress
  • Siphon Method
  • Percolator

The type of coffee bean and fineness of grind will vary depending on which method you use.

Hot Coffee Drinks

Coffee beverages have diversified a lot since coffee first appeared in Arabian cafes in the 15th century. A simple black coffee with or without cream and sugar remains an American staple, but it is only one of many available options.


Espresso is often used as a base for other coffee drinks. It can also be consumed as a shot for a quick jolt of caffeine. Some people take it straight, while others like to add a lump or two of sugar.


This espresso-based drink is also known as a Long Black or a Caffè Americano, depending on what part of the world you are in.

It originated in Italy during World War II when US soldiers had to water down the strong Italian espresso to make it palatable. It is not to be confused with black coffee, which does not actually contain espresso.


A cappuccino is composed of three equal parts: one part espresso, one part steamed milk, and one part milk foam. The milk and foam give it a smooth and soothing taste. However, some find it a bit bitter without the addition of sugar.


This type of coffee is similar to a cappuccino, but with more steamed milk and less foam.

It is one of the most popular coffee choices around and often comes in a variety of flavor options. These can be anything from vanilla to gingerbread, pumpkin spice, or peppermint.


A mocha is essentially a chocolate latte, minus a bit of steamed milk. When prepared well, there is no need to add sweetener because the chocolate balances out the bitterness of the coffee.

Cortado and Flat White

If you’re not really into topping your coffee with milk foam, then you might consider a cortado or flat white.

A cortado is equal parts steamed milk and espresso. Add a bit more milk and you have a flat white.


Take a shot of espresso, dress it up with some milk foam, and you have a macchiato. It’s not as creamy or filling as a latte or cappuccino, but it also lacks the sharp bite of straight espresso.

Cold Coffee Drinks

You can have most of the hot drinks listed above in cold form as well, such as an iced coffee, iced mocha, or iced latte. However, there are a few drinks that can only be served in a frosted glass.

Cold Brew

This type of coffee is exactly what it sounds like, coffee steeped in cold water for up to 36 hours.

You can drink cold brew coffee as is, or add flavored creamer, milk, or simple syrup. They are a great choice for those hot summer days when you feel in need of a caffeine boost.

Nitro Cold Brew

Add nitrogen bubbles to cold brew and you have an entirely different coffee experience. These coffee types come out of a tap, like beer, and are extremely smooth and full-bodied.

Pair it with flavored cream for a decadent coffee treat.


If a creamy nitro cold brew wasn’t lush enough for you, you might enjoy a frappuccino.

It’s really more of a dessert than a coffee. This coffee recipe involves blending espresso, sweet flavors, and ice, then topping it off with a bit of whipped cream.

The Best Types of Coffee

There are so many different types of coffee that it might be difficult to choose between them.

Once you’ve found your drink of choice, try combining different beans, blends, roasts, and flavor additions to create something entirely unique. When it comes to coffee recipes the possibilities are endless.

If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to take a look at some of our other posts.


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