We all know what coffee is and how we normally prefer to drink it, but what about the other “caffe’” choices and items on the menu? With all the different types of coffee beans and beverages available at coffee shops today, it can be a bit perplexing when it comes to exploring other options. Rather than play it safe and never try one of these new, superb drinks or be adventurous and then end up with something that you don’t like, use this guide to be informed and satisfied with whatever you’re drinking.
The flavor of coffee or espresso starts with the roasting of the bean. The hotter the bean is roasted, the less acidic/tart and bitter the beans will be. Medium roasts are generally a good balance between flavors, and provide the fullest body. To determine the type of roast, look at the color of the beans: the darker the beans, the hotter the roast.
Decaf coffee is made from raw coffee beans that are soaked in water that dissolves the caffeine, and a solvent which extracts the caffeine. Then steamed, this evaporates the solvent. Yum? Hmmm
Brewing: Coffee vs. Espresso
Both espresso and coffee are the product of brewing coffee beans in extremely hot water. Yet, espresso is significantly more concentrated than coffee and is generally served in a single, about 1.5 ounce, serving. Thanks to super high pressure and finer ground coffee beans, it takes about 30 seconds to make. Coffee, on the other hand, takes longer to brew (anywhere between 3 and 10 minutes) and is rarely served in anything less than an 8 ounce serving. Despite common belief, espresso is actually not higher in caffeine than coffee.
Beans aside, the flavor, color and body of espresso or coffee depend on the concentration of coffee grounds to water and how much coffee is extracted into the water. The ideal cup of coffee or shot of espresso requires the exact right water temperature, perfect attention to grinding the beans, and exact brewing time. A seasoned Barista can offer you the full, complex lowdown.
The Final Product: Making sense of the lengthy list of drinks on the menu
The base of most drinks is either espresso or coffee. As far as the type of coffee-based drinks, it’s generally a variation on the ratio of foam, milk, espresso and/or coffee.
Finally, finding the perfect coffee drink that works for you requires a bit of searching. Want something that’s slightly filling? Go for a latte. Looking for something small that quickly gets the job done? Macchiato. Staying a while and want to savor your drink? Get a cappuccino. The foam insulates the drink, keeping it warm. Also, simply by using a porcelain cup you can keep your java warmer longer. Ahhhh, the choices of our beloved caffe’!!