Thirty to forty years ago, when most Americans drank coffee, it was just that: hot coffee, perhaps with milk and sugar added. Today, there are seemingly endless options for coffee drinks, from dessert-type drinks like affogato to iced beverages like frappuccinos. Most of these drinks are made from Arabica or Robusta coffee beans.
This variety is great for coffee shop owners, as customers expect to pay a premium for these fancier drinks. This can lead to much bigger profit margins on drinks. Understanding the different coffee drinks and the beans used to make them can help your coffee shop business thrive.
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Types of Coffee Drinks
If you go into a fancy coffee shop, you may quickly be overwhelmed by the sheer number of drinks available. While some coffee shops stick to the basics, most have adapted to current customer demands and now offer 10 or more different coffee drinks. While each shop may offer its own twist on the classics, we have compiled a list of the most common coffee drinks offered at coffee shops today.
Black coffee is the simplest possible drink option. It is exactly what it sounds like: brewed coffee without any extras served hot. It may also be called cafe noir. If you plan to serve plain black coffee at your coffee shop, be sure to use the highest quality beans since you won’t be adding any dairy or sweetener to enhance the flavor.
Lattes are one of the most popular coffee drinks and for good reason. While a basic latte consists of a shot of espresso with steamed milk and foam, it can be endlessly customized. Most often, customers order lattes with a shot of flavor, such as caramel, vanilla, or pumpkin spice.
A cappuccino is a latte that has more foam than steamed milk. It is often served with a sprinkling of cocoa powder or cinnamon on top and can be customized with flavor shots. You may also make the drink richer by using cream instead of milk.
An americano is a twist on black coffee. It is made by diluting a shot of espresso with hot water. Like black coffee, the flavor of the coffee is the star of the show here, so be sure to use high-quality beans.
Espresso is the cornerstone of many coffee drinks, but it can also be consumed on its own. Espresso is an Italian way of making highly concentrated coffee by forcing very hot water at high pressure through finely-ground coffee beans. It is differentiated from regular coffee by the fineness of the grind and the brewing process. A single shot of espresso is 1 ounce, while a double is 2 ounces.
A doppio is a fancy name for a double shot of espresso. It is perfect for anyone who needs a quick boost of caffeine!
A cortado is a beverage with roughly equal parts espresso and steamed milk. The milk helps to cut the acidity of the coffee. Unlike other coffee drinks, the milk is not frothed to make foam.
When you think of a red eye, you probably envision an overnight flight (where you didn’t get much sleep!). A red eye is also a coffee drink that is brimming with caffeine – perfect for those days when you just didn’t get enough sleep. It is simple to make: you just mix a shot of espresso into a full cup of hot coffee.
Hailing from Portugal, the galão is similar to a latte or a cappuccino. It consists of a shot (or two) of espresso with foamed milk. However, the proportions are different – the drink is made with a ratio of 3 parts milk to 1 part coffee. This makes it a smooth, creamy drink.
Lungo is Italian for “long.” It is essentially a “long” espresso, with twice as much hot water forced through the finely-ground coffee. The drink is the same size as a doppio (double shot), but with more caffeine.
A macchiato is an espresso-based coffee drink. It consists of a shot of espresso with a small amount of milk, usually foamed rather than steamed. It is the middle ground between a doppio – with no milk – and a cappuccino.
If you’re a chocolate lover, then a mocha is the drink for you. It is a variant of a latte, and is made by combining a shot of espresso with chocolate powder or syrup, and then topping it with steamed milk and foam.
A ristretto is an espresso shot that is made using less hot water than espresso. The end result is a sweeter, less bitter flavor than a doppio or espresso.
A flat white coffee is essentially a cappuccino without any foam or chocolate/cinnamon sprinkle on top. It is made by adding steamed milk to a shot of espresso.
An affogato is more of a dessert than a coffee drink. It consists of a scoop of ice cream or gelato (usually vanilla, but almost any flavor could work) topped with a shot of hot espresso.
Café Au Lait
Café au lait is a French drink that means “coffee with milk.” It is a step up from black coffee, with a splash of warm milk added to the brew of your choice.
Irish coffee is only an option if your coffee shop also has a liquor license. It is made by adding sugar and whiskey to black coffee and then topping the drink with whipped cream.
Iced coffee is exactly what it sounds like: coffee poured over ice. In many cases, customers will request cream and sugar for their iced coffee, or add it themselves. It is a great option for hot summer days!
To make an iced espresso, all you need to do is pour an espresso shot over ice (and add cream and sugar if desired). It’s an easy way for customers to get a hit of caffeine when it’s hot outside!
Traditionally, coffee is brewed using hot water. However, cold brew has become incredibly popular in recent years. It is made by steeping coffee beans in cold water. Cold milk or cream is then added to the coffee.
A frappuccino is a blended iced coffee drink that is topped with whipped cream and syrup. Made famous by Starbucks, there are endless potential variations of this cold drink.
A nitro coffee doesn’t have extra caffeine. Instead, it is a cold brew coffee with a frothy, Guinness-like consistency from nitrogen bubbles.
A mazagran is a cross between an iced coffee and tea, with popular tea add-ins like lemon and sugar added to coffee. If you have a liquor license, you may even add rum to the drink.
Types of Coffee Beans
There are four main types of coffee beans that are sold commercially: Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. Arabica and Robusta are most commonly found in coffee shops throughout the United States.
Arabica – or coffee arabica – accounts for 60% of the world’s coffee production. These beans are grown at high altitudes, in places that have plenty of shade and precipitation. Of the four main types of coffee plants, Arabica is the most delicate. It is sensitive to the environment and prone to disease.
Arabica beans have a bright body and lower levels of acidity. Coffee produced from these beans is often described as having intricate flavors and aromas. Coffee made from Arabica beans is best served piping hot.
Robusta coffee beans come from the Coffea canephora plant. After Arabica, Robusta is the second most common type of coffee bean.
Unlike the Arabica plant, the Robusta coffee plant is incredibly robust. It is very tolerant of its environment and is minimally susceptible to disease. It thrives in hot climates with irregular rainfall.
Robusta coffee beans have almost twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans. These high caffeine levels are part of what protects the plant against disease. Robusta coffee beans have a heavier body, low acidity, and smooth texture. Coffee made from Robusta beans often is often described as having hints of chocolate. This coffee tastes even better when cream and sugar are added.
Liberica coffee is harder to find in the coffee world. It became popular in the late 1800s when a disease wiped out most of the world’s Arabica coffee bean stock. Liberica beans grow well in tropical climates.
These beans are much larger than other varieties and often have an asymmetrical shape. Liberica coffee produces a drink that has floral and fruity notes, with a smoky, full-bodied taste.
Excelsa coffee beans have recently been reclassified as a member of the Liberica family. However, these two coffees are very different. It largely grows in Southeast Asia on large, 20 to 30-foot trees. It accounts for just 7% of the world’s coffee production.
Excelsa beans are mostly used in blends with other beans to provide a boost of flavor and complexity. It has a tart and fruity body, similar to a light roast, that also has dark, roasted notes. This unusual flavor has driven coffee lovers to seek it out for its complexity.
Increase Your Marketing with Custom Branded Disposable Products
Coffee shops can be very profitable businesses, particularly given the markup from the cost of making a coffee drink and its price. That being said, a coffee shop won’t be successful unless people know about it. Having a good marketing plan is critical to make sure that customers know about your shop – and are enticed to visit it.
Budget Branders knows that one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to boost marketing efforts is through custom-printed disposable products. We can print your coffee shop’s name and logo directly onto coffee cups, sleeves, and more. In this way, your customers can do your advertising for you as they walk around town with a cup of joe.
To learn more or request a quote, reach out today by filling out our online contact form or hitting the live chat button on the bottom right of your screen.