25 types of coffee explained

25 types of coffee explained

How do you like your coffee? Whether you’re a flat white fanatic or a cold brew connoisseur, we think there’s a cup of joe for everybody. In fact, there are so many different types of coffee that it’s hard to believe that they all share the same humble beginnings — it all starts with a bean.

And from here, coffee takes on a life of its own, travelling around the globe as it’s processed, shipped, roasted, ground and brewed into one of many different coffee types.

Each style varies in composition, flavour, strength, and just how much coffee you get for your cup. But how well do you know your different types of coffee?

If you’re struggling to tell the difference between a cortado and a cappuccino, or just want to learn a little more about the styles that you’ve never heard of, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 25 different types of coffee explained.


We’ll start with a simple Espresso. This Italian classic is made by blending nearly boiling pressurised water with ground coffee, forming the foundation for many other coffee drinks. When enjoyed on its own, espresso is a strong, concentrated shot of coffee with a thick consistency, which forms a top layer of foamy cream known as ‘crema’.


If you add a shot of espresso over hot water, you get an americano. The typical ratio of espresso to water is 1:2. This drink may have originated from wartime periods when soldiers would dilute their coffee with more water to extend their rations. Nowadays, it’s enjoyed as a breakfast beverage for its bold flavour and high caffeine content.


For its palatable taste, versatility and a sweetness that balances the acidity of espresso, a latte might just be the most popular coffee there is. A classic latte is made with a shot of espresso, topped with hot steamed milk in a long glass, and finished with just a little layer of milk foam, which is often used to create ‘latte art’, a highly Instagrammed pastime of baristas the world over.


Another Italian staple, the cappuccino is traditionally made using a 1:1:1 ratio of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam at the top. This makes for a frothy layered cup of coffee with a creamy mouthfeel. When consumed, the espresso cuts nicely through the layers of milk and has a softer flavour. Italians tend not to order this breakfast indulgence any later than 12pm — but in your house, you can follow your own rules.


The mocha is a satisfying blend of cappuccino and hot chocolate, making for a well-balanced sweet treat that complements the acidity of its espresso base. Once again, layers are the name of the game when making a quality mocha — you’ll want to top a shot of espresso with chocolate powder (or syrup), followed by streamed milk and a layer of milk foam. Simply extravagant.

Flat white

The flat white originated from Australia, purportedly invented for customers wanting a milky coffee drink that had less foam than a cappuccino. It’s made from a shot or double shot of espresso topped with steamed, slightly foamy milk. This makes for a velvety, smooth cup with a bold coffee flavour.


In a similar fashion, cortado takes your standard shot of espresso and blends it with just the same amount of steamed milk. Originating from the Spanish word ‘cortar’, meaning ‘to cut’, the milk cuts through the acidity of the coffee for a more mellow flavour, using less steamed milk than a flat white.


The name ‘Macchiato’ comes from the Italian word for ‘stained’. This moniker comes from the unique process of making this particular brew — which involves adding just a dash of steamed milk to a shot of espresso to ‘stain’ it. With just a little milk to mellow the flavour, the intensity of the coffee comes through in this high-ratio espresso mix.


A doppio needs little explanation beyond that it’s also known as a double espresso — this makes for a highly concentrated hit of caffeine on the days when a single shot just won’t cut it.


The ristretto is a darker, even more concentrated shot of espresso. It’s brewed by passing around half the volume of pressurised water in a regular shot through the coffee grounds. This shorter cycle creates a sweeter, brighter brew than your average espresso because fewer of the grounds’ compounds have the chance to dissolve into the shot.


Contrary to a ristretto, a lungo shot is made by running more water through the grounds typically used for an espresso shot. As a result, you’ll get a larger, more diluted shot with a less intense flavour profile. The shot takes longer to pull, and will have a bitter, smoky taste as more of the compounds have reacted with the water.

Irish coffee

In recent years, coffee has been cropping up more and more in cocktail ingredient lists — but this can all be traced back to the original Irish coffee. This boozy brew is traditionally made using two shots of fresh espresso, a shot of Irish whiskey, a little brown sugar, and a topping of indulgent whipped cream.


As with many Mediterranean countries, the Portuguese have their own regional coffee. The galão is a spin on the classic latte, made using espresso combined with foamed milk, typically in a 1:3 ratio. To make one for yourself, you’ll need to steam or whisk your milk until it makes a thick froth, for an even creamier brew than your standard cappuccino.

Cafe au lait

Café au lait, or coffee with milk, swaps out the espresso for equal parts freshly brewed coffee and hot milk. This simple mix is typically made using a French press, producing a smooth, mild blend. Sometimes, you have to take it back to basics — and café au lait is the perfect morning brew for those that like their coffee simple but effective.

Red eye

This bold brew takes its name from a red-eye flight — the kind that goes through the night and leaves travellers tired and weary. It should come as no surprise, then, that they work to undo those same effects with a heavy hit of caffeine. A red eye is made by adding a shot of espresso to brewed drip coffee, creating a mix similar to an americano but with a fuller body.

Black eye

We coffee lovers are never ones for half-measures, as proven by the growing popularity of black eye coffee. This strong java takes a red eye, as described above, and adds yet another espresso shot to the mix — making a heavy blend that blasts away any traces of a poor night’s sleep.


Next on our coffee tour we’re travelling to Greece, for an icy affair on the sun-soaked islands. A freddo is a kind of chilled coffee that takes a double shot of espresso and blends it together with ice cubes, making a strong, thick coffee sure to cool you down on a summer’s day.

Cold brew

Unlike other chilled coffees which traditionally use ice to cool down a hot brew, cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for at least 12 hours. This creates a balanced coffee that gently brews and releases minimal acid, resulting in a smooth mouthfeel with none of the flavour dilution you get by adding extra ice.


Also known as iced coffee, a true frappé is made by shaking instant coffee grounds with cold water and sugar for a frothy blend, then pouring it over ice. A frappé can also be served with whipped cream and syrup to become a frappuccino, a term that’s been recently commandeered by high street brands to market blended smoothie-like coffee drinks.

Con panna

Now we’re heading back into dessert coffee territory — and stepping up our game with an espresso con panna. This Italian favourite features just two ingredients — a shot of espresso and a swirl of thick, sweet whipped cream. Elegant, sophisticated, and delicious.

Vienna coffee

If you’re looking to sip something sweeter than sweet, you can try out a Vienna coffee. This lip-licking cup is similar to a con panna, incorporating espresso and cream, but is served with extra hot water and a sprinkling of chocolate. You can use cocoa powder and syrup or shavings, curls or sprinkles for a touch of decadence — whatever takes your fancy.


The breve is an American coffee which is yet another take on the latte. This time round, you’ll use steamed half cream in the space of milk. Half cream is a mix of milk and light cream, making for a creamier blend than your standard latte, and a very rich end result — so it’s certainly more of a dessert coffee.


‘Whipped coffee’ is all the rage on social media, but the creamy drink is actually a take on Dalgona. The dessert-like brew is made by hand-beating a shot of espresso with granulated sugar and milk, whipping the mix until soft peaks start to form. The result is far thicker and creamier than your average brew, and sugary enough to satisfy any sweet tooth — but you might need an extra shot to taste the notes of your chosen roast.


If you’re looking for even more indulgence, affogato provides it in droves. This Italian dessert combines hot espresso with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, for a decadent, sweet hit of java. Add extra toppings like biscotti or syrup, or enjoy as the Italians intended — with spoon after spoon of unadorned, melt-in-your-mouth bliss.


Finishing on a light note, we have an espresso romano. This is a fruity brew traditionally made using a shot of espresso with a slice or juice of a lemon and a little added sugar to diffuse the sourness and acidity. This creates a refreshing brew that highlights some of the subtle notes of fruitier coffee.

What comes next?

So there you have it, your guide to all the main types of coffee. Hopefully, you now have an aficionado’s understanding of the many styles that you can whip up in your own kitchen. And if you fancy a brew after all of that learning, why not try something new?

No matter your preferred type of coffee, we have a bean that will suit you — simply give our handy coffee quiz a go and we’ll match you with the roaster cooking up your next favourite brew.