Ultimate Guide | Types of Coffee

Different Types of Coffee

Each coffee bean allows you to make a wide variety of different types of coffee, from basic drip coffee to the most flavorful cappuccino. Some types of coffee might require a bit of skill, but in the end it's well worth the effort.

This part seven of the Ultimate Guide for Grinding Coffee Beans, a comprehensive guide in which you'll learn anything needed to making the perfect coffee. In this article we will cover the different types of coffee for you to enjoy.

7.0 - The Most Delicious Types of Coffee

types of coffee

If you’ve ever been inside a café, the dozens of types of coffee offerings may have confused you. Latte, cappuccino, macchiato, Frappuccino! Americano, drip, press, pour-over, percolator, Turkish, vacuum?

- What exactly are these types of coffee?
- What are the best types of coffee drinks?
- How can you make these different types of coffee at home?
- Which types of coffee makers are the best?

The purpose of this section is to answer all of the questions above, and educate you on all the varying types of coffee you may encounter in the specialty coffee world.

On the simplest level, different types of coffee are usually distinguished by how they are brewed. The reason for such a variety in types of coffee is simple: differences in brewing methodology bring out different characteristics of coffee beans. Sometimes, in the case of drip and pour-over, the differences are minimal. Other times, the differences in taste, aroma, and texture are enormous, as is the case between a cup of French press coffee and a cup of Turkish pot coffee. The brewing methods mentioned in this paragraph are actually the simplest, with other types of coffee varying more significantly.The region of the coffee beans, roast darkness, grinding coarseness, and types of coffee makers used all determine the types of coffee you end up with.

Common types of coffee drinks include:

  • Drip: Most common in cafés, diners, and offices, drip coffee is brewed through a filter in an automatic drip machine. Any beans, from Robusta and Arabica, and any roast, from light to dark, can be used in an automatic drip machine. Colombian beans are the most widely preferred, however.
  • Pour-over: Brewed by literally pouring hot water over coffee grinds, the pour-over method is by far the cheapest and simplest available. Similar to drip, different types of coffee are acceptable for pour-over.
  • French Press: Coffee grinds are placed in a press-pot with hot water, and sit brewing for several minutes. Once the ideal extraction has occurred, a handle on the press-pot is pushed down, causing a mesh to separate the coffee grinds from the water. While a French press can handle any roasts, most people prefer a darker roast.
  • Cold Brew: Known as the most delicious brewing method for iced coffee, cold brew coffee is made by mixing grinds with cold water, and letting the beverage brew overnight in the refrigerator. Due to their caramel notes, medium roast African beans are preferred for this method.
  • Turkish: Made in a stovetop Turkish pot, extremely fine coffee grinds are mixed with water and brought to a boil on a stove. The preferred roast is dark Arabica.
  • Espresso: Finely ground coffee is firmly placed in a small metallic filter called a portafilter, at which point hot water is shot through it at very high pressure. Espresso blends usually feature a mixture of multi-region Arabica and Robusta, the darker the bean the better.
  • Latte: A shot of espresso is mixed with slightly foamy steamed milk. Because this is an espresso-based beverage, the same types of coffee are used for lattes as espresso.
  • Cappuccino: Very similar to a latte, but contains an equal volume of foam and steamed milk. Espresso coffee types are once again used in this beverage.

In the following sections, we will revisit some of these different types of coffee and outline which types of coffee makers are most suitable for brewing them. Read on for step-by-step instructions on brewing the most delicious types of coffee.

7.1 How to Make French Press Coffee

Although the process is quite simple, few people know how to make French press coffee truly well. Most people will intuitively know how to use a French press, but few will be aware of the little details that result in a truly great cup of coffee. In this section, we will discuss how to choose the best French press coffee maker, how to use a French press, and how to make French press coffee that tastes delicious.

The reason coffee aficionados claim French press coffee is the most delicious is quite simple. Paper filters trap delicious coffee oils during the brewing process, resulting in a less vibrant, blander cup of coffee. For this reason alone, it is a worthwhile pursuit to learn how to make French press coffee. Although you do not need the best French press coffee maker (like this one) to experience the greatness of this brew, they are fairly cheap.

According to experts, the best French press coffee maker should be made of glass. This is because metal can negatively impact the flavor of your coffee. It is generally recognized that Bodum makes the best French press coffee maker on the market. A Bodum French press coffee maker is usually recommended because of its high-quality Borosilicate glass construction and the company’s reputation for excellent build quality. Borosilicate is a chemically neutral, non-porous glass that is preferred in chemistry labs and is often cited as the best material for high-temperature applications like coffee brewing.

Another feature vital to the best French press coffee maker is the filter, and Bodum excels in this arena as well. Your French press coffee maker’s filter should easily keep coffee grinds out of your cup.

Before we begin explaining how to make French press coffee, there are two more considerations to make: coffee beans and grinder. Although you should experiment with all kinds of beans when making French press coffee, the most oft recommended blend is a dark roast. Darker roasts are oilier and more intense, and therefore ideal to showcase the strengths of the French press.

Outlined in a previous section, the best grinders for French press are those that can produce a high uniformity on the coarsest settings. Grinders that produce fines (like blade grinders and cheaper burr grinders) are not recommended, as the fines will turn your cup of coffee into sludge. We compiled a list of the best French press grinders to help you choose.
Top 5: The Best Coffee Grinder for French Press

Now you are ready to learn how to use a French press. Follow this step-by-step process to brew a truly excellent cup of French press coffee:

  1. Freshly grind your coffee beans on the coarsest settings, and pour them into your French press.
  2. Heat your water to 195 Fahrenheit, being careful to keep it from boiling. Spring water and cold filtered water produce the best tasting cup of French press coffee.
  3. Mix the water in with your coffee grinds.
  4. Using a wooden spoon or chopstick, lightly stir the grinds that have floated to the top.
  5. Close the French press and let it sit for 4 minutes. Use a timer if necessary.
  6. Press down on the French press handle, separating the extracted coffee from the spent grinds.
  7. Pour the coffee into a mug,
  8. Enjoy!

7.2 – How to Make Espresso

Hawaiian Espresso

Evidenced by the fact that the majority of modern baristas don’t even know how to make espresso without their fully automated machines, brewing an excellent shot of espresso is a dying art. In this section, we will explain how to make espresso at home, outlining the necessary tools and required steps. By the end of this section, you will know all the basics of how to make espresso!

Although this seems counter-intuitive, the most important piece of equipment for excellent espresso is not the espresso maker, but rather the grinder. Of course, to a certain point, the quality of the espresso maker is important. The problem rests with the fact that, without a proper grinder, even the most expensive professional espresso coffee maker will produce subpar results. With an ace grinder, however, even a mid-range espresso machine will be able to pull excellent shots of espresso.
Thus, if you want to know how to make espresso at home, you have to start with the grinder. The cheapest option for adequate uniformity and fineness is Porlex JP-30 Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder. This manual grinder is excellent for all grinds, including espresso. Alternatively, if you prefer a more hands-off experience, you should look into the Breville Dose Control Pro, and the Baratza Preciso. The former is cheaper, but the latter offers more control and variability.
Top 10: The Best Coffee Grinder Reviews

Espresso Coffee Maker
The next consideration is the espresso coffee maker. Although you can purchase a cheaper steam-driven espresso machine, beware that this variety does not brew real espresso—it only brews really strong coffee. If you are interested in real espresso, you should invest in either a manual espresso maker, or a semi-automatic espresso coffee maker. DeLonghi and Breville make some of the best mid-range espresso machines.

Editor's tip: The Breville Barista Express combines an excellent quality grinder with an easy-to-use espresso machine. This is the one he uses at his own home.

Tamper
The final equipment consideration for brewing espresso is the tamper. Although most espresso machines have an included tamper, the cheap plastic variety is simply subpar. The ideal espresso tamper is sturdy, heavy, and made from a high fidelity material like stainless steel. When shopping for a high-quality tamper, make sure that it is the proper size for your espresso maker’s portafilter; too big and its useless, too small and you will never achieve an even tamp.

Espresso Coffee Beans
Although it is typically recommended to use beans specifically designated as “espresso blends”, you can use virtually any coffee to brew a shot of espresso.
Top 10: The Best Espresso Beans

Now that you have all the proper tools, it is time to learn how to make espresso. Keep in mind that your first few times using an espresso machine are trials, so you should expect a little bit of wasted coffee. Making espresso is a learning process that may take years to perfect. With that being said, here are the steps to start making espresso at home:

  1. Grind your beans on a fine setting for espresso, usually a few notches from the finest setting. If your portafilter holds 17 grams of espresso, grind slightly more to account for loss.
  2. Pour the grinds into your portafilter, creating a mound. Using your fingers, very lightly compress the mound into a puck-shape, making the surface as even as possible. The grinds should be slightly overflowing at this point.
  3. Using a single finger or a straight edged object, sweep the excess grinds from the top of the portafilter, leveling the top of the puck.
  4. Placing the bottom of the tamper on top of the grinds, firmly press down into the portafilter. Keeping your elbow at 90 degrees to ensure even compacting, apply a medium amount of pressure (roughly 30 pounds). Finish the tamping process with a small twist to compact loose grinds on the top.
  5. Lock the portafilter into your espresso machine, and turn it on.
  6. Using a timer, keep track of how long it takes your espresso shot to fill up. From the moment the water is turned on, it should take between 20 and 30 seconds to fill up an espresso shot glass.
  7. When the shot glass is nearly filled up, disengage the machine and turn off the timer.
  8. Calibrate your process. If your shot glass took longer than 30 seconds to fill up, either your grind is too fine, or you applied too much tamping pressure. If your shot pulled in less than 20 seconds, conversely, you may need a finer grind or harder tamp.
  9. Repeat steps 1-8 until you have pulled a 20-30 shot,
  10. Enjoy!

Although this guide is a major oversimplification of a process that may take years to perfect, it outlines all the basic steps of how to make espresso at home. Making espresso can be a highly rewarding experience, and a fantastic way to impress your guests.

7.3 How to Make Lattes and Cappuccinos

Using the steps to make espresso outlined above, you will also need to use a milk frother to make a latte or a cappuccino. Although you can boil your milk instead, it will not have the same texture or taste as properly steamed milk.Milk frothers come in many shapes and sizes. The cheapest, and most widely available frothers are automatic varieties; pour the milk and press the on button. However, these frothers are not ideal for a truly excellent latte or cappuccino. The best results will come from steam wands, which shoot out a consistent stream of steam and slowly heat your milk. If you’re lucky, your espresso maker will have a steam wand attached on the side (like the Breville Barista Express mentioned above, which has quite a brilliant steamer).

The following steps outline creating a perfect latte or cappuccino.

  1. Prep your shot of espresso, grinding and tamping. Lock the portafilter in, but do not pull your shot yet.
  2. Pour your milk into a steaming pitcher, using slightly more than you’ll need for your latte or cappuccino.
  3. Holding the pitcher at a slight angle, bring it under the steam wand. The end of the steam wand should rest just below the surface of the milk.
  4. Turn on your steamer.
  5. Listen to the sound produced by the steamer. You want to hear a thin, high-pitched sound, akin to tearing paper. If you hear bubbling, reposition the steam wand until you hear the ideal sound.
  6. For a latte, you want to hold the wand near the surface of the milk for 10-15 seconds. For a cappuccino, 20-30 seconds.
  7. Plunge the steamer into the milk, about halfway to the bottom of the pitcher.
  8. Pull your shot of espresso.
  9. With enough practice, your shot of espresso should finish pulling at about the same time that your milk reaches 150 degrees. Do not exceed 190 Fahrenheit.
  10. Turn off your steamer and espresso machine, and pour your shot into a mug.
  11. Pour your steamed milk into the mug at a steady pace.

7.4 How to Cold Brew Coffee

Iced coffee is an incredibly popular beverage in North America, and it is surprising how few people know how to make cold brew coffee. The process is incredibly simple, and does not even require a cold brew coffee maker (although that might help). In the next few paragraphs, we will teach you how to make cold brew coffee with or without a dedicated cold brew coffee maker.
The first important consideration in learning how to cold brew coffee is coffee beans. Although nearly any coffee beans will suffice, the ideal blend is an African medium roast. This type of coffee carries distinct notes of caramel, making it a fantastic choice for cold brew coffee.

Editor's tip: To give your cold brew a gentle sweet flavor, you should try using flavored coffee. We made a list of the best flavored coffee.

Grinding coffee for cold brew
The second important factor in learning how to make cold brew coffee is the grind. Depending on your filtration method, several grind settings can be used. However, for the ideal cold brew coffee concentrate, a very coarse grind should be used. The best grind for cold brew coffee is French press. Anything finer may result in a very strong cold brew coffee concentrate, and will be much harder to strain. No one wants sludge in his or her ice coffee.
Top 5: The Best Coffee Grinder for French Press (and cold brew)


Making the cold brew

The final, and most important factor in learning how to make cold brew coffee is the filtration. A cold brew coffee maker is essentially just a carafe with a dedicated filter. Nothing fancy. If you don’t have a cold brew coffee maker, or don’t plan on investing in one, the most ideal method to cold brew coffee is French press. Otherwise, you can make cold brew coffee concentrate in any carafe, assuming you have some sort of net or filter to separate the grinds.

Editor's tip: The OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker is an inexpensive easy-to-use cold brew maker, which doesn't require a lot of cleaning. This is the one our editor uses to make delicious cold brew coffee.

Now that all the important factors have been considered, we can delve into the step-by-step of how to cold brew coffee.

  1. Grind your coffee on a coarse setting, preferably French press.
  2. Fill a carafe/cold brew coffee maker/French press with filtered water and coffee grinds. The ideal ratio for a delicious cold brew coffee concentrate is 3 parts water to 1 part coarsely ground coffee.
  3. Close the carafe/cold brew coffee maker/French press and put it in the refrigerator.
  4. Wait 10-24 hours. The longer you wait, the stronger the cold brew coffee concentrate will be.
  5. Remove the cold brew coffee from the refrigerator, and filter out the grinds. In a carafe, use a very fine net filter for best results. With a cold brew coffee maker simply remove the filter from the cold brew coffee. French press should be used as regular, pushing the filter down and pouring out the coffee,
  6. Enjoy!


Now that you know how to make cold brew coffee, make sure to try some in the summer!

7.5 How to Make Turkish Coffee

In this section we will provide a very simple explanation of how to make Turkish coffee. This age-old method of coffee brewing is still preferred in many parts of the world for its incredibly strong flavor and specific texture. It is a unique and delicious way to drink coffee. Today, you will find out how to make Turkish coffee at home with the simplest of tools.

Making Turkish coffee does not require any special equipment beyond a Turkish coffee maker, although any small pot will do. The main advantage of using a Turkish coffee maker is its graduated shape and spout, which aids in the pouring process. Beyond that, all you need is very finely ground coffee (similar to the fineness of baby powder) and some cold water.

There are, however, a few important considerations when discussing how to make Turkish coffee. When explaining how to brew Turkish coffee, many people seem to ignore the fact that the water should never be allowed to boil. Boiling water destroys the rich layer of foam that Turkish coffee is known for, and degrades some of the flavor and aroma chemicals of the coffee itself. Be wary of any guides explaining how to brew Turkish coffee that mention boiling.

The other important consideration when making Turkish coffee is the freshness of the grinds. Turkish coffee is known for a very rich coffee foam, and stale grinds fail to achieve such richness. Taking this into account, you are now ready to learn how to brew Turkish coffee!
Top 5: The Best Turkish Coffee Grinder

The following is a step-by-step guide on how to make Turkish coffee.

  1. Grind your coffee beans on a Turkish setting, or to a fine baby powder like coarseness.
  2. Pour water in the Turkish coffee maker or pot, making sure to leave some room for the coffee. For every 3 ounces of water, prepare a tablespoon (half ounce) of coffee grinds.
  3. Put the Turkish coffee maker or pot on the stove at medium-high. Wait for the water to heat up.
  4. Once the water is warm, spoon the desired amount of coffee grinds into the pot. Remember, a tablespoon of grinds per every Turkish cup.
  5. Add sugar to taste.
  6. When the grinds begin to sink into the water, lightly stir the contents of the pot.
  7. At the first sign of bubbles forming on the outer edges of the Turkish coffee pot, reduce the heat to medium-low.
  8. Allow the mixture to foam, making sure the contents do not boil. If the water starts boiling, quickly move the Turkish coffee pot away from the heat source.
  9. Once a thick layer of foam has formed on top of the coffee, remove the Turkish coffee pot and turn off the heat.
  10. Pour out the coffee into cups, starting quick to allow some of the foam to escape, and slowing down as you go along.
  11. Let the coffee sit for 2 or 3 minutes, allowing the grinds to settle at the bottom of each cup,
  12. Enjoy!


As you can see, making Turkish coffee is very quick and easy.

7.6 How to Make Drip Coffee

Although we have answered the question “what is drip coffee?” above, let us reiterate in greater detail. Drip coffee refers to the most popular brewing method in North America, and is typically the de facto brew in most restaurants, cafés, and diners. However, to answer the question “What is drip coffee” wholly, we need to examine filters and the standard drip coffee maker design.

What is a drip coffee filter, and how is it different from other coffee filters? Depending on the machine, drip filters come in many shapes, sizes, and materials. The most standard drip filter is a basket shaped, ridged paper. Cone filters are similar to basket filters, but take the form of an upside down cone. Alternatively, drip filters can also be composed of other materials, like extremely fine metallic mesh.

The drip coffee maker determines all of these factors, with some brands using proprietary designs. They all function in essentially the same way, however. A filter is placed into the drip coffee maker basket, and filled with grinds. The machine is turned on, and hot water slowly pours through the filter, slowly dripping coffee into a carafe.

A drip coffee maker is quite simple in design and function. Every drip machine features a water tank, a filter basket, and a carafe. The water tank is filled prior to use, and a filter with coffee grinds is placed in the basket. Once the machine is turned on, the water in the tank is slowly heated and transferred over the filter. Within ten minutes, an entire carafe of coffee is ready.

What distinguishes the best drip coffee maker from the garden variety? Although quality of brew is mostly consistent across machines, the best drip coffee maker excels in convenience and build quality. As an example, a Technivorm is often lauded as the best drip coffee maker available. It distinguishes itself with a very convenient separation of the water supply and filter basket, allowing for much more accurate water measurement. Getting a high-end drip coffee maker ensures you're making a perfect cup of joe each and every time.

Editor's tip: Our sister site Let's Drip Some Coffee has listed all the best drip coffee makers.

Now, we will provide a simple explanation of how to make drip coffee:

  1. Grind your coffee beans to medium coarseness. For a basket filter, you want a coarseness resembling grains of sand. For a cone filter, you want it slightly finer, resembling granulated sugar.
  2. Place a new filter in your drip coffee maker’s filter basket.
  3. Fill your filter with grinds, roughly 1-2 tablespoons per cup of coffee, depending on your strength preference.
  4. Fill the water tank to the desired level.
  5. Close the basket and water tank. Making sure the carafe is locked in/standing in place, press the brew button.
  6. Wait for all the water to run through the coffee.
  7. Turn off the machine, and pour coffee into cups,
  8. Enjoy!

Now you know how to make drip coffee on virtually every drip coffee machine available!

  • Rose Skinner

    So confused about coffee nowadays,,went into a shop and asked for a regular normal coffee,,,. I was asked” Americano??”, so said yes. BUT,,what is the nearest coffee to a NORMAL coffee???. Is it a Latte ??,,or Americano or what???. Email answer please???. Thank You.

    • Hi,
      drip coffee is the regular cup of Joe, an Americano is basically drip coffee with some added hot water to make it less strong.

      Hope this helps!
      Jacco