If you don’t know what to order in your local coffee house, then this list of 10 of the best coffee drinks could be the enlightenment you need.
If you have ever stepped up to the barista and stared at the menu in utter confusion before throwing up your hands in defeat and ordering the same old drip brew, you are not alone!
The differences may seem subtle to a coffee novice, but the tastes and techniques are distinctly different. Here is a guide to ten of the best coffee drinks on the menu and what’s in them to help make your next trip to the coffee bar more enjoyable!
What To Look For In A Coffee Drink
What you look for in a coffee drink depends on your tastes and preferences. However, there are certain elements that make good coffee and are common in all of the best drinks.
They include the bean’s quality, the equipment used, and the barista making the coffee. Of course, that is just touching upon what is needed for the best coffee drinks, but it is an excellent place to start.
Different Coffee Drinks For Different People
Below is a selection of the best coffee drinks for a multitude of different situations. We chose to do our list this way because coffee is a complex drink and different scenarios require different types of coffee.
1. Best Coffee Drink For Balance: Cappuccino
The cappuccino is an Italian breakfast drink popularized in Europe in the 1930s. It did not make its way to the United States until the 1980s when its popularity exploded. It is now the fourth most popular coffee drink in the world.
The cappuccino consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Variations of the cappuccino include the dry (or dark) cappuccino with slightly less milk and the wet (or light) cappuccino with slightly more milk.
A cappuccino is served in a 6-ounce elliptical cup with a thick dome of froth. When rendered correctly, the cappuccino is a well-balanced experience of flavors and textures that delight the taste buds.
2. Best Coffee Drink For Layers: Flat White
While the flat white and cappuccino contain the same ingredients (espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth), they do not taste the same. The difference is in the milk. When milk is steamed, it separates into three layers: the milky steamed liquid, small dense bubbles called microfoam, and large bubbles called froth.
The difference lies in the skilled use of these layers and the specific quantities used. The flat white highlights the espresso flavor using a thin layer of steamed milk and dense, velvety microfoam over an espresso base. This method allows the drinker to savor the less diluted boldness of the espresso while still enjoying the velvety texture of the creamy foam on the tongue.
3. Best Coffee For Drink For Milk Lovers: Latte
Like the cappuccino and flat white, the latte is built upon a well-extracted espresso base, steamed milk, and milk froth. However, the latte is the milkiest of these three coffee drinks. To create a latte, the espresso base is mixed with 6 to 8 ounces of steamed milk and then topped with milk froth (the large bubbles). It is often served in a glass instead of a cup due to its larger size.
The caffè latte features considerably more steamed milk and less froth than its cappuccino cousin and often includes simple flavored syrups. Due to its high milk-to-espresso ratio, the latte is creamier and tastes sweeter and more mellow than the cappuccino.
4. Best Coffee Drink Without An Espresso Machine: Café Au Lait
The café au lait is a coffee drink of French origin which means “coffee with milk.” This drink does not use an espresso base. Instead, it is made by adding hot milk and hot coffee simultaneity to a cup. As milk foam is not desirable for this particular drink, carefully scalding whole milk to avoid the froth is a popular preparation method.
The most traditional cup follows the ratio of one part milk to one part coffee, though the amounts do not have to be exact and can be adjusted to personal taste. The café au lait is served in a small bowl for a fully French effect.
5. Best Coffee For Drink For Chocolate Lovers: Mocha
A mocha, or to give it its full name, a mocha latte is a very popular drink for those with a sweet tooth who don’t want to order a hot chocolate. It is made in a similar fashion to the latte, except chocolate syrup is added to the drink. Some people also like to add a little cocoa powder or brown sugar to make that little bit sweeter.
6. Best Coffee Drink With A Little Extra: Irish Coffee
A proper Irish coffee is made using black coffee, Irish whiskey, and a topping of whipped cream sitting on the top. It’s a delicious concoction, but certainly not one you should indulge in before your morning commute.
This isn’t a drink you’re likely to get in Starbucks, but it is the perfect tipple if you are in an Irish bar and want to get your pick-me-up. The recipe for Irish coffee can change from bar to bar, so discuss how it’s made with the bartender before ordering to ensure that it’s to your taste.
7. Best Coffee Drink For Keeping It Simple: Americano
The Café Americano is a coffee drink made by adding hot water to an espresso base. Rumor has it that the drink’s history can be traced back to World War II when American soldiers serving in Italy diluted espresso to simulate the coffee from back home. The Café Americano offers a strength similar to traditionally brewed coffee but a different flavor.
The Café Americano begins with a shot of espresso or two, with the cup then filled with hot water. An Americano is thicker and slightly more acidic, and bitter than brewed coffee.
8. Best Coffee Drink If You Want Something Different: Ristretto
Ristretto is the French word for “restrict.” The ristretto is a very short (or highly concentrated) shot of espresso served in an espresso cup. It is extracted using the same amount of ground coffee as the espresso but comes from a finer grind and about half the water.
The final drink is approximately 20 mL, though this can vary from 15 to 25 mL, depending on the barista’s preferences. Due to a more concentrated or restricted pour, the ristretto is slightly sweeter than a traditional espresso and is without the familiar bitterness.
9. Best Coffee Drink If You Want Iced Coffee: Iced Latte
Cold brew coffee has really taken off over the past couple of decades, and the iced latte is the king of that genre. The ingredients for this drink are simple: you can either use one or two shots of espresso, a little sugar or maple syrup, ice, and about 3.5 ounces of milk.
When it all mixes together, it’s one of the most delicious drinks out there. Nowadays, most coffee shops offer cold brew options. However, there are still some old-school coffee houses that prefer to only offer freshly brewed hot coffee.
10: Best Coffee Drink If You Really Want A Dessert: Affogato
An affogato is a thing of beauty, but it probably doesn’t belong on this list. That is because it is not one of the best coffee drinks but instead one of the best coffee desserts. However, we know some of you would be disappointed if we didn’t include it, so here it is.
An affogato is a dessert where a hot espresso is poured over ice cream, usually plain or vanilla. The flavors of the two mix in, and it becomes a supernova of tastiness. Of course, this isn’t an item that is available in every coffee shop. However, when on the menu, it is one that should be thoroughly enjoyed and savoured.
Our basis for choosing these coffees is because they are amongst the most popular and fashionable types of coffee on the market right now. Through personal experience and extensive and timely research, we have come to the conclusion that these are the coffee drinks that belong on this list.
They were only picked after careful consideration after all other types of this wonderful drink were ruled out. We’ve gone with the best, so you can enjoy the wonders of coffee and all it has to offer.
Why You Can Trust Me
The truth is that you can trust us because we know our coffee. We have years of experience learning about the subject and have spent even longer enjoying all it has to offer.
And that’s because we have previously tasted each of these types of coffee drinks. The author of this article enjoys all brews, from the extravagant pumpkin spice latte, to the simple black strong coffee.
And the best coffee drinks change as per the situation. Luckily for you, there is an informed list above to help you along the way.
However, your taste is your taste, and the only way you will know the best coffee drinks for you is by trying the ones that intrigue you. Whether you prefer a double shot of espresso or a mocha with extra chocolate syrup is entirely down to you.