There are over 50 different coffee types so understanding the one you like the best will make it a lot easier to order in a coffee shop. The type of coffee beans make a huge difference to the flavour and learning which bean matches each coffee type will enable you to make your favourites in the comfort of your own home.
In this article we will break down all of the most popular coffee types and some of the less known ones as well. You’ll know exactly what the difference is between a latte and a cappuccino and an Americano and a Lungo.
We will also explain what type of coffee beans you should choose for the type of drink that you enjoy and why a dark roast is better for certain drink types and a lighter roast is better for others.
Before we break down each drink and the main types of coffee, it’s worth summarising the most popular ways to brew coffee with and without a coffee machine.
It is common to think that in order to create your coffee shop favourites you need to have an expensive coffee machine but that is not the case at all.
If you want to get the best results then you may wish to consider an espresso machine or a bean to cup coffee machine but it is perfectly possible to create a latte or a cappuccino using a much cheaper brewing method.
Stovetop coffee makers are very inexpensive and so are cafetieres and both of these brewing methods for coffee produce coffee that is way better than any jar of instant coffee that you will find on the supermarket shelves.
Filter coffee machines are also a very underrated way to make great coffee. These machines are cheap and very easy to use.
With stovetop coffee machines and cafetieres you can froth up some milk and create your own cappuccino or latte using these very cheap coffee makers.
Different Coffee Drink Types
For each of the popular drink types we also have a very detailed article for each one that tells you everything you will ever need to know about that drink.
In this section we will include a short summary and then a link to the detailed page where you can read more about your favourite if you wish.
Each drink is based on how they should be served in the UK. What can make it confusing is that different countries have different ways of making the same drink and they will use slightly different terminology as well.
This guide is ideal for anyone in the United Kingdom but may not work as well for countries like the United States because they like to do things their way and that often doesn’t match with what we like to do.
Our coffee drinks are also constructed the way that the Italians like to drink their espresso-based drinks.
I have drunk cappuccino’s (my drink of choice) in many different countries and whilst there are similarities throughout the world my favourite and most delicious memories of the best cappuccinos have always been in Italy.
They are in my opinion the most knowledgeable country when it comes to espresso-based drinks and they are also the most consistent wherever you go in the country.
In the UK you can go to Costa and ask for a cappuccino and get what you ordered and then go across the road to Starbucks and ask for the same drink and get served up a latte which is very annoying considering they want to charge you £3 for it.
Whilst there are dozens of different coffee drinks that seem to have been invented over the last few years there are only a handful that anyone ever really orders.
We have broken down the 11 different coffee drinks that makeup 99% of what you will ever order or want to make at home.
There are 6 milk-based drinks and 5 black coffee drinks.
These are the 6 most ordered milk-based coffee drinks in the UK:
A latte is the most ordered drink in coffee shops in the UK and is enjoyed by millions every week.
Most of the time, however, you just end up with a pint of milk when you order a large latte and there is very little actual coffee flavour because it gets totally diluted with milk.
In a coffee shop they will always give you a double espresso and then add milk to the top of the cup regardless of the size you order.
The bigger the size you order the more milk you will get and the less coffee flavour there will be.
I have often seen a pint of milk being added to a double espresso in Starbucks for anyone that orders a latte.
That’s fine if you just want frothy hot milk but that’s not how it’s supposed to be.
The way to construct a latte properly is 4 parts milk to 1 part espresso.
A double espresso in your cup should be approximately 40ml of coffee and so you should add 160ml of milk to create the perfect latte.
If you have less than 40ml of espresso then add less milk and if you have a little more then add a bit more milk but keep it at a ratio of 4 to 1.
Any more than that and you don’t have a latte anymore, it’s just hot milk.
You also don’t have to use espresso as the coffee base to add the milk to in order to create a latte.
You can use a number of different brewing methods to create a latte that doesn’t involve the use of a coffee machine.
If you are in a coffee shop and they serve you up a pint of milk the next time you order a latte, try ordering a small latte rather than a large one and you may find you enjoy it more as the coffee taste will come through instead of being drowned by the milk.
There are many different ways to create a latte at home for a fraction of the price they charge in a coffee shop.
This article explains more in some detail:
Maybe the most famous coffee drink of all time, the cappuccino has been around for a lot longer than the latte.
For me, it strikes the perfect balance between coffee and milk to savour the wonderful flavour of coffee but it takes the edge off the super-powerful kick you get just from espresso and you also get that creamy froth when blended together with the heated milk and espresso creates coffee heaven.
But it’s got to be done right……
All too often a coffee shop will turn a cappuccino into a latte without you asking by adding a whole load of milk to a double espresso and that’s just not the way it is supposed to be.
The perfect cappuccino is 1/3 coffee, 1/3 milk and 1/3 froth.
With a double espresso of 40ml you need to add 40ml of milk and then top it up with a nice layer of froth.
Any more milk than that and you will start to turn it into a latte.
The froth element of a cappuccino is an important part in order to get the super creamy texture when you mix it into the coffee.
This article explains the most effective way to froth milk for a cappuccino:
And this article goes into detail about how exactly to make a cappuccino to rival and beat any coffee shop:
Not so long ago there was no such thing as a flat white but it is available to order in all coffee shops and has now become one of the most popular coffee drinks in the UK.
It kind of evolved from a demand for a stronger drink than a latte but without the froth of a cappuccino.
With a flat white you basically replace the froth from a cappuccino with more milk so it’s not quite as strong as a cappuccino but stronger than a latte.
A flat white is 1/3 espresso and 2/3 milk.
This article explains exactly how to get the best out of your flat white and save a bunch of money compared to buying one in a coffee shop:
And this explains the specific difference between a flat white and a latte:
This has been a popular drink in other countries for a number of years but is a relatively new kid on the block in the UK.
If you want something stronger than a cappuccino and a flat white but a straight-up espresso is just a bit too strong for you then this is going to be right up your street.
You’ll get an intense coffee flavour but it will also be offset by the creaminess of beautifully textured frothed milk with a thin layer of foam to complement it.
A Cortado is 50% espresso and 50% frothed milk.
So if you have 40ml – 50ml of coffee in a double espresso then add 40ml – 50ml of frothed milk with a thin layer of foam.
This article breaks it down for you:
If you love chocolate as much as you love coffee then a mocha is well worth a try and if you like hot chocolate as well then the chances are that you will really like this drink.
Take a couple of squares of milk chocolate and heat in the microwave for one minute.
Then basically make yourself a flat white. A mocha is the same as a flat white but with melted chocolate added.
For a perfect mocha add a double espresso to a couple of squares of melted chocolate and then top up with frothed milk.
This article explains what you should use and what to avoid:
Café au lait
This is the final milk-based drink that is worthy of a mention because it is often confused with one of the other drinks listed above but it is simply translated from French to English as “coffee with milk”
In France it is made with a filter coffee machine and the black coffee that gets produced has milk added to create a café au lait.
A café au lait is made with 50% black filter coffee and 50% milk.
This article breaks it down for you:
These are the 5 most ordered black coffee drinks in the UK:
If you like black coffee then this is the most popular espresso-based drink without milk in the UK.
What you get in a coffee shop when you order an Americano can vary wildly because the amount of water that gets added is inconsistent depending on where you go and that makes a massive difference to the flavour.
An Americano should be 50% double espresso and 50% water for a strong one.
However, this is a great drink to be flexible with to suit your individual taste and it’s a great drink to make at home because you can just tweak the amount of water to make it just how you like it.
Add more water for a milder coffee and less for something stronger.
This article explains more:
This is similar to an Americano but not the same. With Americano you pull a double espresso and add water to it.
With a lungo all of the water is pushed through the coffee grounds and into the cup so the extraction process is different.
It’s basically a long black coffee and is most popular with Nespresso coffee machines because they have a Lungo setting on them that will deliver 110ml of black coffee.
This article break it down further:
This drink gives you the raw power of coffee.
An espresso is 40ml of water pushed through 18 grams of ground coffee at high pressure.
It gives you the ultimate coffee and caffeine hit but It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but the more you get into coffee the more you can appreciate the flavour.
Start with Americano and then make it stronger and then consider moving onto Espresso.
Here is an article that covers it:
Incredibly there is a coffee drink that is more powerful than an Espresso.
A Ristretto is a double espresso but with only 20ml of water instead of 40ml
See this article for more information:
A macchiato is a double espresso with a dollop of foam on top.
This is how to make one:
Different types of coffee beans
There are many different varieties of coffee beans but there are two that make up the vast majority of what any of us will drink. Arabica and Robusta.
Robusta is cheaper and sharper and tends to be used mainly to produce instant coffee granules although can be blended with Arabica beans to create dark roast espresso.
The way in which beans are roasted drastically affects the flavour and as a general rule medium to dark roast beans are best suited to the espresso-based drinks listed above.
Light to medium roast beans are better suited for brewing coffee in a filter coffee machine or a cafetiere.
This article explains more about the different beans and roast types:
It is definitely worth exploring different coffee beans and looking elsewhere rather than what the supermarket has to offer.
Small roasters don’t get a look in at the big supermarkets because they can’t produce the volume but there is some really good value for money coffee beans out there that are well worth checking out.
This article explains how to choose coffee beans and has some suggestions that you won’t find on the high street:
Here are some more articles that will help you to get the best flavour out of your coffee:
You are now fully equipped with how all the most popular coffee drinks are made, how to choose some great beans and all the different brewing types you can use to make a delicious tasting cup of coffee.