Have you ever listened to someone evangelize over all the delightful details of their favorite coffee drink, having never tried it yourself? While there’s no perfect coffee style for everyone, there is an ideal way to make the most popular coffee drinks.
I say try different variations until you find the right one to turn on your tastebuds and have you exclaiming why your new coffee type is THE best.
“This coffee tastes like mud! Well, it was ground this morning.” – Old Vaudeville Joke
Black, white, hot, or cold, coffee has the habit of uniting people, sparking culture, and igniting ideas. This social beverage has been brewed up for more than 500 years, and in that time we’ve probably concocted just as many ways to make coffee.
The variations and interesting additions on how to make coffee in unique ways are perhaps infinite. But here we’ll narrow it down to the top 14 most popular coffee drinks from around the world.
Espresso ~ It’s all about the “crema” baby!
Espressos are, probably, the most famous type of coffee preparation. This Italian invention can be consumed straight-up (for the brave), or used as a base for many other coffee type variations.
The traditional Espresso is created by forcing pressurized water (at just under boiling temp) through a “puck” of finely-ground coffee beans at a pressure of 7-9 bars.
A perfect press will be expressed with 3 distinct sections, the heart (at the bottom), the body (middle), and the tasty crema on top!
For a deeper dive on how to make espresso at home like a professional barista, check out this post.
Macchiato ~ When espresso alone is just too intense!
Italian for stained or marked, the Macchiato strikes a perfect balance of intensity and smoothness. This traditional Italian culture icon adds a touch of delicately foamed milk to 2 shots of espresso, marking the espresso with the thick milk-foam.
If you’re at a popular coffee shop chain like Starbucks, and you want to try a real Macchiato, order an Espresso Macchiato. Otherwise, you might end up with a Carmel Macchiato or Latte Macchiato.. both delicious no doubt, just not the real deal.
Coffee drinkers in Italy will usually enjoy a cappuccino for breakfast then a macchiato later in the day.
The origins of the cafe Americano are uncertain. Some say it originated in Italy in the 1940s during World War II. American soldiers couldn’t handle the intense flavor of espresso, so they asked their drinks to be diluted with hot water.
Other stories say this drink was first seen in Latin America during the 1970s. The Americano is simply a shot or two of espresso, with an equal volume of hot water.
Café Au Lait vs. Caffé Latte
Ever wonder what the difference is with a Café Au Lait and Caffè Latte? Yes, they are translated the same (Coffee with Milk). Yes, they have the same ingredients.
No, they’re not the exact same thing.
The Café au Lait is a gift from our friends in France (where they delight at creating delicate flavor balances!). It consists of strong black coffee with hot milk added, preferably steamed.
Served in a ceramic cup (or bowl) with a ratio of 50% french-press coffee and 50% steamed milk.
The Italian version, Caffé Latte, is traditionally served in a tall glass and is made with a higher ratio of steamed milk. It requires two parts milk to one part espresso.
Cappuccino? I won’t say no.
This famed, foam-topped coffee drink, also dreamed up by the Italians, is an espresso-based preparation served with steamed milk foam (microfoam).
A properly prepared cappuccino should be 1/2 espresso plus 1/2 milk microfoam. And frothing the milk to a perfect texture is no easy feat.
If your microfoam is so silky smooth that you can’t see individual bubbles, then you’ve found one skilled barista!
In Italy, the cappuccino (or little-hood) is only served for breakfast. Other parts of the world have adopted this delicious foamy concoction for any time of day.
Some countries argue over land rights, oil, or gold. Australia and New Zealand are still arguing over which can claim invention of the first Flat White (different reasons, same passion).
The Flat White drink combines a double shot of espresso with silky cream microfoam. Just enough to cover the drink’s surface while still enjoying the intense coffee flavor.
This beverage is similar to the Latte and Café au Lait. The distinctive differences are a velvety consistency to the microfoam and a higher ratio of espresso to foam.
Turkish Coffee ~ Dare to guess the origin of this drink?
Nope! This traditional coffee drink originated in Yemen but was made famous by the Turks. And it’s not is for the non-faint of heart.
Made by simmering a powder of very finely ground coffee beans in water using a copper or bronze pot, called a cezve.
Turkish Coffee is the king of unfiltered coffees, preparing and serving the drink with the grounds included.
The coffee grounds settle to the cup’s bottom and are sometimes used in divination to predict the future based on the patterns formed as they dry, known as Tasseography.
While the drinks we’ve covered so far have been around for many decades, the Frappé is a more modern preparation style.
It’s made with instant coffee, milk, sugar, and ice. The ingredients are blended or shaken up, sweetened according to taste, and served in a tall glass.
The first frappe is attributed to Dimitris Vakondios, a former Nescafé employee who created the drink when looking to make coffee but had no hot water to work with.
Eiskaffee ~ What could make coffee even better?
Let’s give thanks to German ingenuity and hot summer days for the next delicious addition to our list of most popular coffee drinks. For obvious reasons, this one is an attraction during summer when cold refreshments are welcomed.
Made with vanilla ice cream, black coffee (pre-chilled), and sometimes a dollop of delicately whipped sweet cream on top.
Yuanyang Coffee ~ Will you be having tea or coffee? Both!
This unique coffee blend, also known as Hong Kong Coffee, gets its name from a location in Yunnan province China. It can be served hot or cold and is carefully conformed of seven parts Hong Kong-style milk tea, and three parts black coffee.
Cafe Mocha ~ Not just a city in Yemen
While the name has become synonymous with chocolate in the West. Its namesake comes from the ancient Arabian city, where coffee is rumored to have first been discovered.
Made famous by those coffee-loving Italians, the Caffé Mocha is an exciting variation to what we’ve seen so far.
Unlike the others, this espresso-based beverage includes hot milk plus added chocolate. The Cafe Mocha is sometimes known as Hot Chocolate and can be made using cocoa powder instead of chocolate.
If white chocolate is your thing, here’s your new favorite… White Chocolate Mocha, yum!
If you ever want to try one of these new drinks at home, why not start with a scoop of fine vanilla gelato, place it in a mug, top it with hot espresso, and bam! You just made an Affogato! This Italian dessert coffee is also especially glorious to enjoy on hot summer days.
Cold Brew Iced Coffee
Something the majority of these popular coffee drinks have in common is that they’re made with hot-brewed coffee. Alternatively, cold brew coffee (originating from Japan) uses a cold water extraction process.
This brew style is rapidly growing in popularity because it results in a delightfully smooth taste with very little bitterness. If you’re wondering how to make cold brew coffee, it requires minimal effort while resulting in a smoother, less bitter taste.
Start with coarsely ground beans of your choice (use double the amount of coffee grounds you normally would for hot coffee), add cool water, let steep for 24 hours at room temperature, enjoy, rinse repeat.
Irish Coffee ~ Finally to the fertile land of libation
The Irish Coffee might not be so popular for breakfast since it’s actually a libation, consisting of Irish whiskey, coffee, and sugar. Some recipes add a helping of sweet cream on top, while entirely optional, it’s highly recommended!
First concocted by Chef Joe Sheridan in 1943 for a weary group of trans-Atlantic travelers, it’s since gone on to become the most famous hot coffee cocktail in the world.
Did your favorite make our list of the world’s most popular coffee drinks? Let us know and sound off in the comments below!