Have you seen the ever-expanding drink list at your favorite coffee shop recently?
Years ago there was really “just coffee”. But today, we’re witnessing a ton of creativity from baristas and coffee lovers. We’re also getting new access to all kinds of coffee drinks from around the world.
Now there are a million types of coffee out there, and trying as many as possible is an incredibly fun challenge.
So whether you’re an adventurous globetrotter looking for worldly coffee drinks, or just looking to spice up your coffee routine at home, we hope this master list of coffee types inspires some sensory exploration.
- 10 types of black coffee
- 11 types of espresso drinks
- 8 creative coffee drinks from around the world
- 5 modern drinks worth trying
How many can you check off your list already?
Types of Black Coffee
It turns out, there was never really such a thing as “just black coffee”, because there are over a dozen ways to make it—each with their own flavors, techniques, and super-fans.
The french press is the quintessential coffee maker, and it brews a mug so richly flavorful, it’s hard to go back to anything else. Essentially, the coffee grounds and water steep together for 3-4 minutes before the fine mesh filter is pressed down, separating the grounds from the brewed coffee.
French press coffee has a heavy mouthfeel, along with rich and bold flavors and aromas. Here’s our full french press guide.
In North America, drip coffee from coffee pots is often thought of as “regular coffee”. It’s made by a machine that drains hot water over a bed of grounds, allows it to steep for just a moment, then drains it into a pot below.
Drip coffee tends to have a medium body, classic flavors, and a familiar boldness that’s not too strong and not too light.
Siphons, also called “Vacuum Pots”, are the mad scientist’s favorite coffee brewer—they look like they belong in an experimental lab! They work by creating a vacuum seal in a lower glass bulb, forcing the hot water into an upper bulb where the grounds are, and then sucking the brewed coffee back down through a filter, into the lower bulb. It’s pretty crazy to watch!
Most siphon coffee is made with a cloth filter, which gives the final cup a silky or juicy body, complex flavors, and rich aromas.
The Aeropress is a modern cult classic coffee brewer. The coffee grounds are packed into the beaker with the filter cap on top, followed by hot water. You then press the plunger through the beaker, forcing the brewed coffee through the filter and into your coffee mug.
AeroPress coffee is reliably delicious, with a medium body and the ability to produce coffee ranging from bold and exciting to nuanced and complex.
Pour over coffee follows the same general process as drip coffee: hot water is poured over the coffee grounds, then gravity drains the brewed coffee through the filter and into a mug below. The main difference is that pour overs are generally manual coffee makers, so you manually pour the water over the coffee, rather than relying on a machine to do it.
Because drip coffee pots are often un-optimized to bring out your coffee’s best flavors, pour over coffee tends to have more nuanced flavors and complex aromas. Here’s our full pour over coffee guide.
Cold Brew Coffee
This coffee method is very different from the rest. Rather than using hot water to brew, you use cold water (if that wasn’t already obvious). The cold water takes a long time to extract the coffee’s flavors, so you steep the coffee and water together for 12+ hours before filtering.
The end result is a unique brew with up to 66% less acidity and bitterness that’s great as iced coffee, hot coffee, or even in cocktails. You’ve gotta try it—here’s our recipe.
This coffee method from the Eastern Mediterranean is quite fascinating to watch. Super-fine coffee grounds are placed in a small pot called an ibrik or cezve. The pot is then placed over an open flame and brought to near-boiling temperatures 2-3 times.
When you pour out the coffee into a cup, it has a dense mouthfeel, extra-strong tasting notes, and a bold aroma. It’s very strong, and pairs perfectly with a sweet treat.
The Vietnamese method of making coffee in a Phin Coffee Filter is very similar to pour over brewing, but it has its own little twist. Essentially, the brewer is designed to slowly drain the water over a 3-4 minute period, so even though the brewed coffee drains naturally via gravity, it takes a long time. It’s almost like a pour over / french press hybrid.
The resulting coffee is deliciously rich, but balanced.
If you want home espresso, this is the best way to get close without spending a few hundred dollars. The Italian moka pot sits on your kitchen stove. When the water in the lower chamber starts to steam, it creates pressure inside the brewer, forcing an extra-strong coffee—much closer to espresso than with any other home brewer—up and into the top chamber, where it can easily be poured out.
Moka pot coffee is bold and concentrated. You can definitely drink it on its own, but feel free to experiment with adding some hot water or a hint of milk to mellow it out just a bit.
Iced Pour Over (or Flash Chilled)
This is the #1 best way to make iced coffee that’s not cold brewed coffee. It’s fundamentally a pour over coffee process, but you trade a small percentage of the hot water for ice in the glass or carafe below. This way, as the water drains, it chills instantly.
As the coffee is flash chilled, the rich aromatic compounds stop floating off into the room around you—they actually stay in the cup—giving this style of iced coffee an extra bright and complex flavor profile. Here’s our iced pour over coffee guide.
Types of Espresso Drinks
In many parts of the world, coffee equates to espresso, not the filter coffee that comes from a french press or drip coffee pot. Since espresso is a concentrated “shot”, it can easily be combined with other liquids, like milk, to form a variety of espresso drinks.
Espresso is made by forcing hot water through super-tiny coffee grounds in an espresso machine in ~20-30 seconds. We’re not talking a little pressure. We’re talking 8-10 bars of pressure—far more than any human can achieve with their bare hands.
What you get is a 1-2 ounce “shot” of espresso with a dense, syrupy body, bold and bright flavors and aromas, and an upper layer of crema made up of air bubbles and natural coffee oils. Yes, it’s very strong—but you should try it by itself someday!
A lungo is an espresso shot that’s been allowed to pull a little longer—perhaps 35 seconds. In Italian, lungo means “long”... makes sense. Lungo shots have a slightly more rounded flavor and less acidity, and there’s a bit more volume overall (often 2-3 ounces of espresso).
A ristretto is an espresso shot that’s been cut off a few seconds early—often around the 20(ish) second mark. Ristretto shots generally have a more acidic flavor and brighter aromas, which can help the flavor pop in milk-based drinks.
If you order an espresso in North America, you’ll probably get a “double shot”, or a doppio (“double” in Italian). It just means your barista had a large coffee portafilter and was able to pull a double instead of just a single. So watch that caffeine! In some countries, single shots are the standard.
Contrary to what Starbucks has on their menu, the classic espresso macchiato is a shot of espresso with a light dollop or “mark” of foam on top—no whipped cream, steamed milk, or extra flavoring. Starbucks justifies their version by saying it’s milk marked with espresso (essentially the inverse of the original drink).
As you can imagine, the classic espresso macchiato is a very strong beverage, because the milk foam doesn’t cut the coffee flavor much.
If you order an espresso macchiato, we suggest you confirm what you’re getting with the barista. Many coffee lovers have accidentally ordered this tiny espresso drink instead of the sweet Starbucks version by accident!
Cortado / Gibraltar
For an espresso-forward drink that’s not quite as strong, you can’t go wrong with the cortado or gibraltar (the name varies by region). This is a 3-4 ounce espresso drink with a single or double shot topped with ~2 ounces of lightly steamed milk.
The small amount of milk tones down the espresso’s most powerful notes and acidic punch, but still lets most of the coffee’s unique flavors through. This one is a coffee pro favorite!
The classic cappuccino is beloved all over the world—you can’t travel anywhere without seeing one on menus of restaurants or cafes. The general rule is that a cappuccino should be roughly 33% espresso, 33% steamed milk, and 33% micro foam, with only 5-6 ounces of total volume.
You get a thicker foam than with most drinks, which floats delicately on top of the milk and espresso mixture and creates a thick and creamy texture. The cappuccino’s flavor is still coffee-forward, but it has just the right amount of milk for most people who enjoy coffee, but don’t want to focus too much on the espresso.
This controversial drink comes from either New Zealand or Australia… we won’t take an official position (it’s a sore subject). Though definitions vary, most people down undah agree that it’s a cappuccino-sized drink, but with a lighter layer of microfoam that’s closer to a latte. For simplicity’s sake, it’s basically a cappuccino-sized latte.
This North American favorite is an extra-milky espresso drink. You take your double shot of espresso (1-2 ounces), then add 8-14 ounces of steamed milk with a thin layer of microfoam on top.
Because it’s quite milky in comparison to the other drinks above, lattes are known for their easy sipping, subtle coffee flavor, and flavored syrup pairings (like vanilla, caramel, and chocolate).
Back in the day, Americans in Europe during the world wars couldn’t quite stand the strong espresso, so local baristas made “Americanos” by diluting the espresso with hot water to make coffee that was closer to the drip coffee the Americans were used to.
But this is more than just watered down espresso. Americanos have the unique flavors and aromas of espresso, but they’re toned down to a black coffee strength for smoother sipping and prolonged enjoyment.
If you really need a jolt of energy, try a red eye. This is a mug of black coffee—made however you like it—topped with a shot or two of espresso. Yes. It’s a lot of caffeine (coffee lover beware). Red eyes taste bold and powerful.
Coffee Drinks From Around The World
We’re fascinated by how different cultures around the world have adapted coffee to their ingredients and local tastes—there are some pretty wild coffee drinks out there! If you’re the adventurous type, these are the must-haves.
Espresso Con Panna (Italy)
This Italian creation is a rich shot of espresso, topped with a dollop of sweet, fluffy whipped cream. Espresso con panna translates to “coffee with cream”. It’s sometimes also known as “Cafe Vienne” or “Viennois”.
As you can imagine, it’s boldly flavorful, but also quite sweet—a playful mixture of strong and light that makes a great after-dinner treat.
Carajillo (Spain + Latin America)
Looking for a new after-dinner digestif or dessert? The carajillo is Spain’s answer. A blend of espresso and brandy or rum, it’s a complex adult drink that’ll wake you up—and somehow chill you out. You’re likely to find this across Latin American cafes and bars as well.
Irish Coffee (England or USA)
The origins of this well-known coffee cocktail are heavily contested. There’s some evidence to believe Irish whiskey was mixed with coffee in England as far back as 1943. Others point to a cafe in San Francisco serving the drink with the name Irish Coffee in 1952. No matter who made it up first, it’s delicious.
Irish whiskey and a level scoop of sugar are poured over black coffee and stirred until fully dissolved. Then a thick cream is gently poured over the back of the spoon, which causes the cream to float, rather than mix into the drink. The result is a warm, spiked, and gently-sweetened drink that’s especially great on cold winter nights.
If this isn’t the best dessert for coffee lovers… Pull a shot of espresso on top of a scoop of gelato, and voila! You have a delicious affogato. The word affogato translates to “drowned”, so make sure you’re not just “topping” your gelato with espresso. Drown it!
Café Cubano (Cuba)
Traditional Cuban coffee was quite bitter, so the locals evolved a way of brewing that whips natural brown sugar into a small bit of moka pot coffee or espresso. The result is a bubbly-sweet—but still very strong—espresso drink.
Egg Coffee (Sweden)
This is a sailor’s brew, originating from Swedish travelers en-route to the United States in the late 1800s. And yes, it’s as weird as it sounds.
You start by stirring coffee grounds into a raw egg, then adding it all into a pot of boiling water and letting it brew for ~5 minutes. You end the process by adding some ice-cold water to the pot, causing the egg and coffee to sink so you can pour out the brewed coffee.
The result is a (reportedly) super smooth and clear brew—they say the egg captures all the micro-grounds so you don’t even need a filter. Frankly, we haven’t tried this one yet. You’ll have to tell us if it’s any good.
Freddo Cappuccino (Greece)
If you want a frothy milk drink, but feel it’s nice enough out for an iced drink, you can’t go wrong with the Greek Freddo Cappuccino. Rather than using hot steam, use a cold frother—similar to the kind they use to stir up ice cream shakes in restaurants—to give your milk a whipped, foamy texture, drop it gently over a shot of warm espresso, and give the whole thing a quick hearty stir.
This incredible alternative to the iced latte is more foamy and creamy, and usually comes with distinct layers: an espresso-heavy base, a middle mixture of coffee and cool milk, and a thick upper layer of dense milk foam. From rich espresso to light milky notes, this drink has it all!
Cafe Bombon (Spain)
If you find yourself in a Spanish cafe, make sure to try the rich and delicious Cafe Bombon. It’s made with a shot of espresso and an equal part sweetened condensed milk—except the milk is poured very gently so that it settles at the bottom of the espresso, creating two distinct layers.
The drink is generally stirred before sipping to incorporate the layers, giving the drink a dense and sometimes shocking flavor of rich espresso and sweet milk.
Modern Coffee Creations
We’re lucky to live in an age where people are creating new forms of coffee drinks all the time. New flavor combos are possible, thanks to diversely-stocked markets. New coffee styles, like cold brewing, are unlocking new iced drink possibilities. And the average bag of beans is increasingly more delicious each year. It’s a good time to get creative with coffee.
This is a new modern classic in the cocktail world. It’s sophisticated, but also functional. Simply mix a shot of espresso with simple syrup, coffee liqueur, and vodka. Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a couple whole coffee beans.
The espresso nixes out the vodka’s characteristic zing, and the liqueur and simple syrup add a smoothness that even coffee skeptics can get behind. If you’re after a little boost—but still want your buzz—this is a great one to try.
Note: cold brew also works well as a substitute for espresso and is much easier to make at home.
What happens when you infuse nitrogen into coffee, like how some beer is made? You get nitro cold brew! It’s foamy, but still has that rounded chocolate-y cold brew taste and aroma. The biggest difference is the body. It just feels heavier, more bulky somehow. Definitely worth a taste if you get the chance.
Tonic water isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve got a taste for it, you’ve gotta try it over a shot of balanced single origin espresso. The citrusy-sweet tang of the tonic helps bring out the brighter, more interesting flavors of the espresso. The end result is a soda-like drink with an adventurous level of acidity and bright aromas.
Cold Brew Lemonade
When it’s hot out, nothing satisfies quite like a cold brew lemonade. It’s super easy to make: just mix one part cold brew coffee, one part lemonade, and top with ice. Drop a straw in there and sip!
What you get is a harmonious blend of cold brew’s natural smooth chocolate notes and the sweet, refreshing familiarity of lemonade. And since cold brew is often ~66% less acidic than coffee, no, it’s not an overly acidic drink. It’s just right.
Cold Brew Soda
Some people swear by sparkling water, but sparkling cold brew coffee is where it’s at for coffee lovers. And it’s a breeze to make: just mix 2 ounces of cold brew concentrate with the flavor syrup of your choice and top it off with soda water.
You can get all sorts of creative with the flavor syrup. Stick with classic caramel. Try for an autumn-inspired cinnamon syrup. Or really spread your wings with a floral elderflower syrup. If you can imagine it, you can test it.
Every Coffee Explorer Needs The Right Gear
Whether you’re after the world-beloved cup of french press coffee, or you need some cold brew for your next wacky soda recipe, we’ve got you covered here at ESPRO.
Our award-winning coffee gear is meticulously designed to enable you to get the most out of your morning routine with thoughtful, simple equipment that gets the job done consistently.
- 12x Finer Filters — Our french presses all feature our unique dual micro-filters that are up to 12 times finer than standard french press filters. That means you get the simplicity and flavor of a great french press brew, but none of the grit or sludge.
- The 2-minute Pour Over — We made the BLOOM Pour Over Coffee Brewer with a unique filter design that makes it possible to brew fully-flavored, consistent coffee in just two minutes (significantly faster than the 3-4 minutes of most pour overs!).
- Three Cold Brew Innovations — Our Cold Brew Coffee Kit has three distinct features that make it easier to use (and less messy) than other cold brewers out there. If you want to explore the world of creative coffee drinks via cold brew, it’s worth checking out.
No matter how you explore, do it your way.