Regarded as one of the most popular beverages in the world, coffee is a daily staple in the routines of many. While many of us drink it, but we don't know much about it beyond that we need it to stay awake and productive. Knowledge is power and if you want good coffee, you'll need to get to know coffee. This guide will run you through the bean to the beverage and in the end, you might just change some of your opinions about your favorite beverage.
In most American grocery stores, you will find two types of coffee beans - Arabica and Robusta. What is the difference between Arabica and Robusta? We'll get down into the fine details of these beans and you may just discover a new favorite.
This is the most popular coffee bean due to its taste. This bean is typically used for black coffee, it has a sweeter and more complex flavor, which is enjoyable when drinking coffee straight. While this bean is considered higher quality than Robusta, it also contains less caffeine.
This bean is cheaper but it is stronger so, if you're going for that caffeine kick, this is the coffee for you. This bean has more bitter taste but it also often used to make instant coffee and espresso blends, which are blended with milk, cream, sugar, and other flavorings to make it more enjoyable to drink.
These coffee beans have had 97% of their caffeine removed from them. There are many methods for removing caffeine. Most commonly, coffee beans are washed or soaked in solvents to remove caffeine. Then, the solvent is removed. Caffeine can also be removed from beans using a carbon dioxide or a charcoal filter, also known as, the Swiss Water Process. The beans are decaffeinated before they are roasted and ground. The nutritional value of decaffeinated coffee is identical to regular coffee but with less caffeine. The decaffeination process will affect the aroma, making it milder, and the color of the coffee.
Decaf coffee is not 100% caffeine-free but it is just significantly lower in caffeine than regular coffee. The level of caffeine varies but it is on average 3mg per cup, whereas the average cup of caffeinated coffee contains 70-140 mg per cup.
"Roast levels" are used to describe how long and thoroughly the coffee beans are roasted. Understanding the differences between these roast levels will help you select the perfect coffee for you. The three most common roast levels are light, medium, and dark.
Light roast coffees have a light brown color, lack of oil on the beans, and a light body. These beans are roasted until they reach a temperature of about 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the beans first crack at around 350 degrees.
A common misconception about light roasts is that they don't contain as much caffeine as the other roasts but it is the complete opposite. The longer the beans roast the more caffeine breakdown because light roast coffee beans cook for a shorter time at a lower temperature, they retain the most caffeine. Light roast coffees can also be referred to as Light City Roast, New England Roast, or Cinnamon Roast.
Medium roast coffees are brown and have a thicker viscosity than light roast coffees. It is at this level of roast that you get to taste the actual roast flavor and less of the bright floral notes. This coffee is more balanced and in flavor and has a medium amount of caffeine. Medium roast beans are roasted until the second crack in the bean, which is around 410 to 430 degrees Fahrenheit. Medium roast coffees are also known as, Medium as American Roast, Breakfast Roast, or City Roast.
Dark roast coffees remain dark brown even when close to a blackened color. These beans are characterized by the oil that glosses the surface of the bean drawn out by the roasting process. Dark roast coffee has a robust, full body. The origin flavors of the bean are almost completely roasted out but instead, the beans take on a bold and smokey taste.
Dark roasted beans are roasted to 465 degrees Fahrenheit or also known as the end of the second crack. If the beans are roasted at a higher temperature or further than this, the coffee will take on a more acrid and charcoal-like flavor. Dark roast coffees are also called French Roast, Italian Roast, New Orleans Roast, Continental Roast, or even Espresso Roast.
The popularity of coffee not only comes from its power to keep us alert and productive but also, we have put so much work into developing a variety of ways to enjoy it. There are so many ways to dress up your coffee but we'll only go over a few of the most popular. If you're looking for some coffee drink inspiration, read our Top 5 Cold Brew Recipes article.
This no-frills basic beverage allows you to truly taste your coffee and all the notes it has to offer. With low calories and a big caffeine hit, this is a great beverage for those looking to watch their calorie count or who don't care for the frills of sugar and cream. Black coffee is also really bitter compared to other preparations of coffee. It's also a great drink to order if you want to customize how much sugar, milk, or cream is in your drink.
We went into depth about how decaf coffee is made earlier but it is a beverage people often choose to drink later in the afternoon or evenings. This is a great dessert drink because of it's the much lower caffeine content. It is also ideal for those who have a sensitivity to caffeine but love the taste of coffee.
When you need your caffeine kick, an espresso shot is the beverage to turn to. This extremely finely milled coffee is brewed with a higher grounds-to-water ratio than what's used for traditional coffee, which is why it packs a lot of caffeine punch and flavor. It's the reason why it is used as the base for a wide variety of coffee beverages.
A simple and fast way to get caffeinated, this is just a double shot of espresso. Of course, you could just call it a double shot of espresso.
This is also known as a long-pull espresso. The longer the pull, the more caffeine content and it is more ounces than your typical espresso.
This version of an espresso shot uses less hot water to create a sweeter flavor. It minimizes the bitterness in the espresso.
One of the most popular coffee beverages, a latte consists of an espresso shot, steamed milk, and a touch of milk foam. You can get a multitude of additional customizations to this classic coffee drink from a variety of flavored syrups to many alternative milk options.
A cappuccino is very similar to a latte but it contains more milk foam than milk. This beverage is often ideal for those who want a stronger coffee flavor because it isn't as diluted by milk. The foam helps carry the aroma of the beverage and adds more texture and mouthfeel to the drink.
This beverage is traditionally a shot of espresso with a touch of steamed milk or foam. In Italian, macchiato means "stained" or "spotted," so adding just a splash of milk or foam will create this stained or spotted effect.
When black coffee isn't enough, the Americano offers the same flavor with more of a caffeine boost. This beverage is an espresso diluted with hot water. Some people tend to take this beverage black but like black coffee, you can add milk, cream, and other customizations.
The French coffee classic is fifty-fifty coffee and steamed or scaled milk. This coffee beverage is ideal for those who prefer a creamier flavor and less of a coffee flavor.
This beverage originates from Spain and is half espresso and half steamed milk. What is unique about this hot coffee beverage is that it contains no foam. The addition of milk helps reduce the acidity of the espresso, making it easier to drink.
Originally from Portugal, this hot coffee beverage is similar to latte and cappuccino except this beverage contains twice as much foamed milk and less coffee, making it a lighter coffee drink.
Similar to a latte, this drink consists of a higher espresso ratio to milk. Milk is folded as it steams, which creates a velvety texture to the beverage. This beverage is well known in areas like Australia and New Zealand.
Chocolate-lovers will love sipping on this deliciously decadent beverage. This starts with a latte base and typically includes the addition of melted chocolate, cocoa powder, or chocolate syrup. This is a sweeter and richer take on a latte. You can even ask for the addition of flavored syrups like cherry, raspberry, or caramel for even more sweetness and flavor.
When sleep isn't an option, this coffee beverage is designed to keep you alert! This drink is coffee with an espresso shot, which will give you a punch of coffee flavor and a hue slap of caffeine.
When you've had a rough week, a little splash of whiskey can be just what you need to unwind. This delicious take on a coffee beverage includes black coffee, a whisky, sugar, and a whipped cream topping. This boozy beverage is enjoyable day or night.
Well, this beverage is pretty straightforward, it's coffee with ice. When the weather is warm, it's hard to enjoy a piping hot cup of coffee. A nice iced coffee is a great refreshing beverage for the summertime. Plus, you can customize it in a variety of ways with flavored syrups, milk options, and other customizations.
Often mistaken as iced coffee, this coffee has a completely different brewing method and results in a different tasting coffee. Cold brew coffee also has many benefits over classic hot coffee, we discuss these benefits further in our article here. Instead of brewing coffee grounds with hot water, cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for a longer period of time. This results in a smoother, less acidic, and slightly sweeter coffee. You can learn more about cold brew coffee here and the difference between cold brew and iced coffee in our article here. Just like classic black coffee, you can customize the flavors of your cold brew in a variety of ways. Here are our top cold brew coffee recipes here.
Instead of serving cold brew coffee using CO2 from a keg or just flat, serving it with nitrogen gives the coffee a richer and creamier body and taste. It also produces a foamy head, like you would see with a stout beer. This nitro infusion makes the coffee even sweeter and smoother. The bitterness and acidic properties of the coffee are significantly reduced in nitro coffee. We have a detailed article on nitro cold brew here. This nitro cold brew coffee dispenser is a bestseller and is a hit in our office! Plus, it fits conveniently on any countertop space.
Chilled espresso and milk over ice is a simple drink but it can be customized in a multitude of ways. You can add flavored syrups and different types of milk in different quantities to create your perfect drink.
Some would consider this more dessert than coffee but this blended coffee drink definitely has its perks. Often a shot of espresso blended with milk and ice, topped with whipped cream and sometimes flavored syrups but they can also be made without coffee for a flavorful sweet milkshake-like beverage. There are many varieties of this blended beverage but keep in mind they're all quite sweet.
This isn't exactly a coffee beverage and it is definitely a dessert but one of its main components is a shot of espresso. This simple coffee sweet is a scoop of ice cream with a shot of espresso poured on top. This delicious treat combines your after-dinner coffee with your dessert, it gives you the best of both worlds without filling you up.
Maybe this is more of a coffee cocktail but it's a coffee beverage nevertheless. Originated in Algeria, this beverage consists of expresso, lemon, sugar, ice, and sometimes rum and mint. If you're looking to change up your coffee order, this may be a fun one to try.
If you want to truly enjoy coffee, you'll need to understand how to properly brew it and you'll need to understand the equipment you have available to work with. These days, you can find many different varieties of coffee makers but we'll just go through the most popular and common coffee brewers.
We can't talk about coffee without discussing the most popular brewing method, a classic coffee maker. These machines can be found in most homes and offices because of their ability to brew large batches of coffee with minimal effort. Most have a set timer that allows you to set your brew time so your coffee will be ready by the time you get up in the morning. This is the most versatile brewing device and is one that most people will own. They are easy to use, clean, and deliver great-tasting coffee.
Whether you're committed to caffeine or you just love drinking a variety of coffee beverages, an espresso machine allows you to brew that delicious coffee base that will perk you up. As we discussed previously, espresso is in many coffee-based beverages, and having the ability to brew it yourself will not only save you money but, you will get to customize your drink exactly the way you like it. Espresso machines can be very basic, only brewing espresso, or you can find a machine with all the bells and whistles that will allow you to steam milk for your beverages.
The classic French Press is not only easy to use but also easy to clean. Part of making coffee has to include convenience and this device is as easy as it comes. Simply add some coffee ground to the press and pour hot water over them and let them steep for a few minutes. When you're ready to enjoy your coffee, press the plunger down, separating the grounds from the liquid. Pour and enjoy! This brewing method will work for all coffee beans but we recommend using it for darker, richer roasts. The downside of these is that they don't brew very much.
This device works very similarly to a French Press but instead of being its own device, this one is placed over your intended coffee cup. You will be able to dispense your coffee directly into your coffee cup. You can brew a variety of coffee beverages using this device but it is a single-serve device, which means if you want a second cup, you'll have to set up the brewing system again.
You may have seen this old-school brewing device around. It brews coffee by continuously pushing boiling hot water bubbles up into the "coffee chamber" in the upper section in order to steep the coffee grains. The process is continued until it is ready to serve and it can be used over just about any heat source, even a campfire. This brewing method is popular with medium roast coffees. These often only brew smaller batches, which is ideal for individual use.
These single serve coffee machines are becoming more popular for their ease of use and ability to serve a variety of hot beverages. These machines require specific single serve coffee pods that contain the coffee grounds. These pods are often one-time use and aren't the most environmentally friendly because of the waste produced for a single cup. Using the device, you can select your coffee size and it will run hot water through the grounds directly into your cup. These are ideal for small households and offices. The other downside is maintenance and cleaning, which isn't really easy with these devices.
The real coffee snobs love a slow brew, which many believe delivers a richer, stronger, and more flavorful brew. A drip coffee system has a chamber for the coffee grounds, which can be placed over a cup or vessel. Once hot water is poured into the chamber, the slow drip begins and you just need to be patient enough to allow all the water to drip through your grounds. This may be too slow of a process for the morning time but if you plan ahead, you can get a really rich and flavorful cup of coffee. These can come in single serve versions or with larger thermal carafes that keep your coffee warm as you're drinking your first cup.
Similar to a drip coffee maker, a pour over coffee maker requires you to pour hot water over coffee beans to produce your favorite beverage. Pour over devices are typically self-contained vessels, where the top portion is an open funnel for the coffee beans and the bottom is a container that collects the brewed coffee. This is another coffee-connoisseur favorite for brewing a very rich, flavorful, and bold coffee. These do require a special type of filter but you can find some that are reusable.
Cold brew coffee is actually quite easy to brew at home but it does take some time because it uses cold water instead of hot, which is why we recommend brewing it in large batches. Using large mesh baskets, you can steep a massive amount of coffee grounds to produce gallons of cold brew coffee. You can then store the cold brew in a keg and you can dispense it as you desire with a coffee dispenser.
If this is too much work for you, you can always get a coffee dispenser and order kegs filled with cold brew for your dispenser. We think the ultimate cold brew dispenser for homes and offices is the Illy-Bag-In-A-Box Cold Brew Coffee Single Tap Black Mini Kegerator. This compact countertop kegerator dispenses the richest and smoothest cold brew coffee from an easy to attach Bag-In-A-Box. This cold brew coffee is a hit in our offices! Illy takes out the hassle of brewing your own cold brew coffee and delivers you a coffeeshop-quality cold brew in your own home.
This brewing device is very similar to a percolator but it is more finicky because you need to watch for when the water is spent because if you don't remove it from the heat, it will burn your beverage. Also, the beverage that a moka pot produces is closer to an espresso than a coffee.
While everyone has their own way of enjoying coffee, we can all agree, it's a daily essential. There are endless options for coffee beverages and drinks are continuing to be being innovated! Why not create a coffee beverage of your own? Our team of experts can help you choose the perfect coffee brewer or dispenser for you! Contact us at 800-710-9939.