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The Complete Guide to Types of Coffee: From Beans to Roasts and Drinks 

From Arabica and Espresso to the Latte and Iced Coffee, this guide provides the lowdown on the major types of coffee beans, roasts, and drinks.
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I spent 4 days going down a magical research rabbit hole full of 40+ articles, videos, and podcasts. This rabbit hole took me to Europe, the Americas, Southeast Asia—and it was a blast.

Why spend so much time and energy in said rabbit hole?

To ensure this guide is a worthy representation of its majestic beans, roasts, and drinks of course!

We are going to look at the types of coffee that make the coffee world go ‘round.

Ready to explore? Brew yourself a cup of coffee and let’s dive in!

4 Types of Coffee Beans 

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Coffea Arabica

1. Arabica

Arabica coffee beans make up 60% of all coffee consumed around the world. They are smaller and more oval than Robusta. 

Farmed primarily in South and Central America, Arabica beans are best enjoyed in hot coffee drinks. When they’re brewed in cold coffee, Arabica ground coffee beans tend to lose much of their natural flavors.

  • Caffeine level: High
  • Flavor profile: Rich, full-bodied, slightly sweet and acidic

2. Robusta

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Coffea Canephora, known as “Robusta”

Robusta coffee has about double the caffeine as Arabica and is less disease-prone during the growing phase.

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Robusta is the Rubiaceae plant family

Cheaper to produce than Arabica because the plant is hardier, Robusta beans are the second most consumed type of coffee bean in the world.

The beans are more circular vs. oval and the taste is more acidic and bitter than Arabica beans

  • Caffeine level: Highest
  • Flavor profile: Earthy, heavier, slightly bitter

3. Liberica

Liberica coffee is grown almost exclusively in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Liberica is a rare coffee that’s sometimes added to coffee blends for more complexity. 

The coffee cherry is bigger and irregularly shaped in comparison to Arabica and Robusta beans.

  • Caffeine level: Medium-low
  • Flavor profile: Smoky, woody, nutty

4. Excelsa

Excelsa is actually part of the Liberica family. Both beans are rare, but Excelsa is the rarest and most expensive. Why? Because it’s the hardest and most labor-intensive to grow.

Excelsa is an arboreal tree instead of a shrub, so it extends vertically and can reach up to 50 feet high. Its leaves need pruning often, too, further increasing production costs.

The difficulty with Excelsa coffee bean growth hinders its market spread and adoption. But the unique flavor can create a bewitching coffee experience.

  • Caffeine level: Low
  • Flavor profile: Strong, tart, and berry-like, with deeper chocolate and cream notes when roasted longer

Types of Coffee Roasts 

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The process of coffee roasting, which usually takes place at a coffee plant roastery, is critical to the flavors that end up in your cup.

Roasting coffee is an art and a science. Just one more minute of time in the roaster can completely change the flavor, aroma, and texture of a roast batch.

Coffee beans are roasted in four main roast groups, which the temperature and length of roast time determine.

1. Light

Lightly roasted coffee beans have been in the roaster for the least amount of time. The beans come out lightest in color and retain the most amount of natural aroma and flavor.

  • Caffeine level: Highest
  • Surface oil level: None
  • Roast time: 7-8 minutes
  • Roast temperature: 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit

2. Medium

Medium roast means the coffee beans roast until the second crack in the beans starts to appear.

Medium-roasted coffee beans tend to result in more balanced brews. The flavors are a degree fuller than light roasts.

  • Caffeine level: High
  • Surface oil level: Some
  • Roast time: 10-12 minutes
  • Roast temperature: 400-430 degrees Fahrenheit

3. Medium-Dark

For a medium-dark roast, the heat gets turned up in coffee production. The beans begin developing a deeper, spicier taste.

The coffee beans develop a thicker, oilier body, and smoother texture.

  • Caffeine level: Medium
  • Surface oil level: Higher
  • Roast time: 12-15 minutes
  • Roast temperature: 435-450 degrees Fahrenheit

4. Dark

Dark-roasted beans are in the roaster for the longest in the highest temperatures. The process lowers the amount of caffeine while increasing the surface oils on the beans.

Dark roast coffee beans look almost black, have a bitter taste, and can smell burnt.

  • Caffeine level: Lowest
  • Surface oil level: Highest
  • Roast time: 15-20 minutes
  • Roast temperature: 460-480 degrees Fahrenheit

Popular Types of Black Coffee Drinks 

1. Espresso

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Espresso is an ultra-concentrated form of strong coffee. It’s made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans.

The coffee beans are not different for espresso vs. drip coffee. Rather, the extraction process is what’s different.

You create Espresso coffee through highly pressurized brewing (best done with an espresso machine).

Espresso is an essential foundation for most of the other types of popular coffee drinks we all know and love!

  • Ratio: 1 espresso shot
  • Recommended cup: 2-4 oz. espresso cup

2. Doppio (or Double Shot)

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It’s probably no surprise that “doppio” means “double” in Italian. Simply two rather than one, doppios are double the fun of a single espresso shot! This is a popular type of coffee drink after a meal.

  • Ratio: 2 espresso shots
  • Recommended cup: 3-4 oz. espresso cup

3. Americano

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An Americano is a single shot of espresso diluted with a few ounces of hot water. 

During World War II, drip-coffee-loving Americans stationed in Italy found espresso to be too strong.

The American solution was to add hot water to espresso to mimic drip-brewed java—and presto! The Americano was born. Less intense, but still highly caffeinated and very similar-tasting to regular coffee.

  • Ratio: 1 espresso shot + 3 oz. of hot water
  • Recommended cup: 6 oz. glass coffee cup

4. Black 

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Black coffee is exactly how it sounds: Plain brewed java. It’s probably the most common type of coffee here in the US. When you make it at home, it’s usually via pour-over coffee makers, a drip coffee maker, or a single-cup brewer like Keurig.

It can also be batch brewed, but this method is more common at cafe chains.

Everyone takes their black coffee a bit differently, whether you enjoy your coffee with milk, sugar, or both. 

Personally, I like mine without the extras. It is easier to appreciate the notes of the roast you are sipping.

  • Ratio: 8 oz. drip coffee
  • Recommended cup: 8-10 oz. coffee mug

5. Caffè Corretto

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The Caffe Corretto is Italy’s beloved coffee cocktail, which is often served after dinner. This Italian coffee is made with grappa, a type of brandy-like alcohol made from grapes. 

Italians created the popular coffee recipe during the 1930s when coffee was expensive. In fact, the amount of coffee grounds served at a common coffee shop was usually supplemented with orzo or chicory to keep costs down.

Funny enough, Corretto means “to correct” in Italian. The drink’s name means the alcohol has corrected the coffee’s bitter taste!

  • Ratio: 1 single espresso shot + 1 grappa shot
  • Recommended cup: 2-4 oz. espresso cup

Pro Tip: The grappa should be room temperature for your Caffe Corretto, never cold. Otherwise, it can break up your espresso’s crema.

6. Irish Coffee

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Irish Coffee is another type of coffee cocktail, featuring drip coffee or espresso and Irish whiskey.

Some recipes call for you to whisk chilled cream and sugar with the coffee-whiskey mixture.

Others suggest adding Bailey’s Irish Cream instead. You’ll have to try both to see which you prefer! 

  • Ratio: ⅓ Irish whiskey, ⅓ Bailey’s Irish Cream + ⅓ brewed drip coffee 

Recommended cup: 8-10 oz. Irish coffee glass

7. Lungo

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A Lungo, or “long shot”, is a shot of espresso pulled with twice the amount of water. This dilutes the coffee’s acidity, so it tastes milder, yet still bitter. 

Here in North America, the Lungo is often confused with the Americano—but there is no water added to the Lungo after you pull its espresso.

  • Ratio: 1:3 espresso to water vs. traditional 1:2 espresso pulls
  • Recommended cup: 4 oz. espresso cup

8. Red Eye

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Named for the overnight flight that leaves you desperate for caffeine the next morning, the Red Eye coffee is a shot of espresso in a cup of black coffee. 

  • Ratio: 1 espresso shot + 6-8 oz. of drip coffee
  • Recommended cup: 8-10 oz. coffee mug

9. Ristretto

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A Ristretto, or “short shot”, is the opposite of a Lungo. It’s made by pulling an espresso shot with less water than your typical 1:2 espresso-to-water ratio. 

The espresso is stronger, sweeter, and more concentrated—even while the volume is a bit lower since you are using less water.

  • Ratio: 1:1 espresso to water vs. traditional 1:2 espresso pulls
  • Recommended cup: 2 oz. espresso cup

Different Coffee Types with Milk

1. Breve

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A Breve (meaning “short” in Italian) is essentially a latte made with half-and-half milk.

However, if you order a “half and half” Breve Latte, you’ll probably get half heavy cream and half whole milk—not all half and half

You can also make any espresso-based drink “breve” since it’ll mean substituting milk for half and half.

Breve drinks are quite heavy and deeply creamy with an indulgent, velvety texture.

  • Ratio: 1:14 single espresso shot to steamed half and half
  • Recommended cup: 10-12 oz. coffee mug

2. Cafe Au Lait

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Hailing from France, the Cafe Au Lait is a refreshing combination of French Press-made coffee and steamed milk.

  • Ratio: 1:1 coffee brewed in a French Press + steamed milk
  • Recommended cup: 8 oz. coffee mug

3. Cappuccino

Types of Coffee Blog Images

In the world of coffee, Cappuccinos are nothing short of iconic!

A cappuccino is typically a single shot of espresso with steamed milk and foam on top. This kind of coffee is brewed with more foam than a latte. 

  • Ratio: 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 foam                                              
  • Recommended cup: 5-6 oz. ceramic cup

4. Con Panna

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Con Panna is short for Espresso Con Panna, which means “espresso with cream”.

It’s made with a single or double shot of espresso and a generous dollop of fresh Chantilly cream. If you’re a coffee lover who enjoys sweets, the Con Panna’s combination of coffee with thick cream might just be your new favorite espresso drink.

  • Ratio: 1:1 single espresso shot to fresh whipped cream
  • Recommended cup: 2-4 oz. espresso cup

5. Cortado

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The Cortado (sometimes also called “Piccolo”) is a single shot of espresso combined with foamed milk.

With origins in Spain, it’s a lovely way for coffee drinkers to enjoy espresso with more pronunciation than a latte, but less acidity than a straight espresso shot.

  • Ratio: 1:4 single espresso shot to steamed milk
  • Recommended cup: 3-4 oz. glass cup

6. Latte

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Lattes are creamy, caffeinated sips of heaven (and one of my favorites!).

The drink has an espresso base, but what distinguishes it from other types of coffee drinks is the large ratio of steamed milk to espresso. 

Classic lattes have a dollop of milk foam on top, although some drinkers prefer a bit of whipped cream instead. It is common in the US to add syrup flavoring like vanilla to the drink as well.

  • Ratio: 1:14 single espresso shot to steamed milk
  • Recommended cup: 10-12 oz. coffee mug

7. Galão

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The Galão is a Portuguese creation. Sometimes called a mix between the Cappuccino and Latte, its texture is foamier than steamed milk (typical of a latte). 

  • Ratio: 1:3 single espresso shot to foamed milk
  • Recommended cup: 8 oz. glass mug

8. Flat White 

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The Flat White originated in either Australia or New Zealand and is similar to the Cortado—except it’s made with a double shot of espresso instead of a single and more milk. That means a similar drinking experience with more caffeine.

  • Ratio: 1:4 double espresso shot to foamed milk
  • Recommended cup: 5 oz. espresso cup

9. Macchiato

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A Macchiato is an espresso with a small amount of steamed milk. “Macchiato” means “to mark” in Italian. Essentially you are ‘marking’ the espresso with milk. 

For a deeper espresso macchiato, ask for a 1:1 ratio. This essentially gives you a Macchiato with less milk for a stronger flavor.

  • Ratio: 1:2 single espresso shot to foamed milk
  • Recommended cup: 2-4 oz. espresso cup

10. Mocha

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Made with coffee or espresso, a Mocha is basically a latte with chocolate. You can make it with white, milk, dark chocolate, powders, or syrups. If you like coffee served as dessert, Mochas hit the spot.

When I was a barista, we used to whisk cocoa powder right into just-pulled espresso before adding steamed milk. Tastes like hot chocolate with a caffeine kick. Delicious!

  • Ratio: 1 espresso shot, ⅓ chocolate + ⅓ steamed milk
  • Recommended cup: 10-12 oz. coffee mug

Types of Iced Coffee, Cold Coffee, and Cold Brew

1. Affogato

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Ready for this? Espresso on top of ice cream. Yep. Does that sound like perfection or what?

Well, if you agree, then you might want to make or order an Affogato the next time you’re jonesing for an after-dinner dessert with a kick.

  • Ratio: 1 espresso shot + 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream
  • Recommended cup: 6-8 oz. dessert bowl

2. Cold Brew

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Cold Brew coffee is made by soaking coffee beans in water for 12 or more hours. Steeping coffee beans for hours on end does something pretty magical: The longer you steep it, the stronger the end brew will be.

Just remember you want coarsely ground coffee for Cold Brew.

  • Ratio: 12 oz. cold brew
  • Recommended cup: 16 oz. glass tumbler or Mason jar

3. Espresso Tonic 

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An Espresso Tonic might seem like a strange combination, but it’s a super refreshing variety of coffee.

The tonic’s carbonation combined with the bitter, fruity notes in espresso over ice is a fun hot weather treat. Try adding a wedge of orange, lime, or lemon for an added dimension. 

  • Ratio: 1:2 espresso or cold brew to tonic water. So, if you have a double shot of espresso, you’d add it to 4 oz. of tonic. 
  • Recommended cup: 6-8 oz. short glass 

Pro Tip: You can also try swapping espresso for cold brew coffee, which creates a lighter beverage that tends to be colder and less intense in flavor. But no crema!

4. Frappe (or Frappuccino) 

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With roots in Greece, a Frappe is a cold, blended coffee drink. Made popular by Starbucks, you make Frappes (or Frappuccinos) by blending espresso, milk, sugar, and ice together.

It can also be made with a decaf coffee base for younger folks or if you just prefer no-to-light caffeine. 

Add a flavored syrup like chocolate or vanilla, if you like. Top your Frappe with whipped cream and enjoy!

  • Ratio*: 1 espresso shot, ¾ cup of whole milk, 8 oz. of ice, sweeteners to taste
  • Recommended cup: 12 oz. glass

*Ratios for Frappes can vary widely depending on your preferred caffeine level and size.

5. Nitro Cold Brew

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Nitro coffee is like ‘cold brew on tap’. It’s a type of cold-brew coffee infused with nitrogen, so it has a foamy head like draft beer and is even poured from a special nitro tap in coffee houses! 

Beyond the cool factor, nitrogen adds slight carbonation to cold brew for an intriguing mouth feel.

You’ll need a whipped cream dispenser or mini keg if you want to make nitro cold brew at home.

  • Ratio: 8 oz. nitro coffee
  • Recommended cup: 8-10 oz. glass

6. Iced Coffee

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An iced coffee drink is simply brewed black coffee over ice. if you’re making iced coffee at home, you’ll want to brew your coffee at double strength or with half the normal water, since ice waters down the coffee.

Then, pour it over a Tumbler or Mason jar full of ice cubes. Many people prefer iced coffee with creamer since it can have a bitter taste.

  • Ratio: 12 oz. iced coffee
  • Recommended cup: 16 oz. glass tumbler or Mason jar

7. Iced Espresso

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Iced Espresso is exactly what it sounds like: A single shot of espresso with ice. Simply put finely ground coffee into your espresso machine’s portafilter and pull the shot directly onto ice in a glass.

The hot espresso instantly melts the ice, creating the perfect cup of coffee for a quick pick-me-up.

  • Ratio: 1:3 single espresso shot to ice cubes
  • Recommended cup: 4-6 oz. glass cup

8. Shakerato 

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Better known in Europe, a Shakerato is a double shot of Iced Espresso that’s then shaken with a teaspoon of sugar, martini-style.

  • Ratio: 1:2 double espresso shot to ice
  • Recommended cup: 4-6 oz. martini glass

9. Cappuccino Freddo

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The Cappuccino Freddo is essentially a cold, blended Cappuccino. It’s very popular in Greece in the summertime!

To create a Cappuccino Freddo, first shake a double shot of espresso with ice. Then top it with foamed, cold milk.

  • Ratio: 1:2 double shot of espresso to cold frothed milk
  • Recommended cup: 6-8 oz. glass

10. Vietnamese Iced Coffee

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Vietnamese Iced Coffee’s bold, deep flavor and high caffeine levels is the stuff of legends

Intense and revitalizing, you can find them in your local Vietnamese cafes.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee’s unique flavor profile is because it’s made with:

  1. Robusta coffee beans
  2. Sweetened Condensed Milk
  3. A Phin filter
  • Ratio: ⅓ medium-grind Robusta coffee beans, ⅓ sweetened condensed milk, ⅓ ice
  • Recommended cup: 16 oz. glass tumbler or Mason jar

From Irish Coffee to Plain Hot Coffee: Which Type of Coffee Drink is Best For You?

As comprehensive as I’ve endeavored this article to be, there are so many different kinds of coffee to choose from—so how do you pick which brew is your perfect match?

It honestly depends on your taste and lifestyle. If you’re a straight shooter who likes things strong and unfiltered, espresso is your go-to — it’s short, sharp, and full of flavor. Turkish coffee provides the same experience with a kick of creamy sweetness.

Now, if your taste buds prefer something a bit softer and milkier, a latte would suit you perfectly. Prefer a mix of the two? That’s where the cappuccino comes in – the best of both worlds! For folks that can’t stand the jitters from the caffeine, most drinks can be made with decaf. You get to enjoy the flavor without the jitters.

And for those who like to keep things light and simple, good ol’ drip coffee would do the trick. As for a tasty dessert substitute, a mocha or coffee-flavored frappuccino might become your new favorite. And if you’re of age to drink alcohol, an Irish coffee after dinner at your favorite restaurant is worth a try.

So, there you go! Remember, the best coffee type is really the one that your taste buds and lifestyle vibe with the most. No wrong choices here, promise.

Final Thoughts

With so many coffee drinks out there, it’s a wonder they all come from a few types of coffee beans and roasts, isn’t it?

So, what’s next? Now it’s time to discover ways to make coffee!

Different Types of Coffee – FAQs

What coffee maker do I need to make different coffee drinks?

The type of coffee maker largely depends on the type of coffee drink you want to make.

For example, for espresso, you’d need an espresso machine. Drip coffee machines are great for black brew enthusiasts. Turkish coffee requires a specific type of pot called a cezve.

How is coffee made in a coffee shop different from coffee brewed at home?

Coffee that’s crafted in a coffee shop usually tastes different because they use industrial-grade equipment and precisely measured ingredients.

However, with the right tools and techniques, you can also make great coffee at home. It all depends on the coffee beans, water temperature, brew time, and your coffee maker.

What makes Turkish coffee unique among other types?

Turkish coffee stands out due to its preparation without a coffee filter and serving style. It’s made by boiling finely ground coffee beans in a special pot called a ‘cezve’. The coffee is served in a small cup, and it’s unfiltered, leaving a thick layer of coffee grounds at the bottom.

What is the most popular type of coffee in the world?

There are many types of coffee loved by people worldwide, but one of the most popular is espresso. It’s the base for many coffee drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and more.

Other popular ones include instant coffee for its convenience and Turkish coffee known for its distinctive method and taste.

How is instant coffee produced?

Instant coffee is made by brewing coffee into a concentrated liquid and then drying it into a powder or granules.

That’s why you only need to dissolve it in hot water to make instant coffee. It’s a quick and easy method, but it might not offer the same rich taste as fresh coffee.

What’s the difference in how an espresso coffee is made compared to a regular coffee?

The main difference lies in the brewing process and the coffee-to-water ratio. To make espresso, a small amount of hot, but not boiling water is forced under pressure through finely-ground coffee beans.

This gives it a thicker, creamier texture compared to black coffee, which is made by simply steeping coffee grounds in hot water.

Can the same coffee type be made differently?

Absolutely, there are many ways to make the same type of coffee but with variations. For example, regular coffee can be made by steeping coffee grounds in a French press, through a percolator or 5-cup coffee maker—or even by boiling it in a Moka pot over the stove.

The tools used and the methods of brewing all lead to subtle differences in the final brew.

How many types of coffee are there?

There are many types of coffee, from simple black coffee to complex specialty coffee drinks. Some types include espresso, cappuccino, latte, Americano, mocha, macchiato, Turkish coffee, and iced coffee. And don’t forget about the different types of beans like Arabica, Robusta, and others. So, whether you like your coffee hot, cold, strong, milky, or sweet, there’s a type for you!
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3 thoughts on “The Complete Guide to Types of Coffee: From Beans to Roasts and Drinks ”

  1. I’m always impressed by your ability to write about complex topics in an understandable way.

    Reply

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