Fifty shades of … coffee

As all Italians do, I’m a coffee lover too!

I love the smell of it in the morning and it is what gives me the right charge to be able to face all the duties of the day! Whenever I move to a new city, the first thing I pack is my Italian coffee pot.

Traveling, however, has given me the opportunity to broaden my horizons and learn about all the different ways of brewing and tasting good coffee. Let’s see which varieties of coffee species exist, how many ways to serve it, and all the ways to prepare it!

Caffeterìa nella Sierra del Escambray, Cuba

Table of Contents

How many and which varieties of coffee exist

First, you may be interested to know that there are more than sixty types of coffee plants in the world, but the most famous and marketed are five:

  • arabica ;
  • robusta ;
  • liberica ;
  • excelsa ;
  • kopi luwak .

The difference between these species is given by the characteristics of the fruit (the coffee berry). These depend on the climatic and soil conditions of the country of origin, the type of processing and roasting to which it is subjected and the properties of the plant itself.

  • Arabica coffee : it is the oldest and most commercialized quality in the world. It accounts for 70 percent of total coffee production. Compared to the Robusta variety, it has a lower caffeine amount, and its fruits are similar to small cherries, as they are characterized by a bright red color. This variety is characterized by a fruity and sour aroma. Precisely because of its low caffeine content, it can be enjoyed at any time of the day. It is grown in Latin America, in some areas of Africa and on the island of Gran Canaria, where the only coffee plantation in Europe is located.

Among the best known and cultivated varieties we find:

    • Mocha , grown in Arabia, the most widespread;
    • Typical ;
    • Bourbon , grown in Brazil;
    • Maragogype ;
    • Aromatic coffee Medellin , from Colombia
    • Coffee “of the Antilles” , among which the Jamaican Blue Mountain stands out (famous for being packaged in wooden barrels rather than in jute bags);
    • Mysore , grown in India.
tostatura caffè arabica
  • Robusta coffee: it is the second most produced variety in the world (and the most consumed in Italy). The main difference from Arabica quality, lies precisely in the amount of caffeine . In fact, robusta coffee is characterized by a high content of it, and a more bitter and intense flavor. It is grown in Africa, Southeast Asia and Brazil.
  • Liberica coffee : it is certainly less widespread and less known than the previous two. It is native to the forests of Liberia and Ghana. The peculiarity of this species is that in addition to the fruit, the real berry of coffee, its flowers are also marketed. Once dried, in fact, they are sold, especially in the Japanese market, to prepare coffee-flavored infusions!
  • Excelsa coffee : it is one of the most recently known species (discovered at the beginning of the 20th century) and is actually thought to be a variety of Liberica. The coffee obtained from this species is very precious and valuable, as the most common harvesting method is the manual one (the beans are selected one by one according to their degree of ripeness!)
  • Kopi Luwak : now very famous for being the rarest and most expensive coffee in the world! It is originally from Indonesia (and exactly in the islands of Java, Sumatra and Bali) and what makes it “unique” is the method (questionable, and unorthodox) with which it is produced. In fact, Kopi Luwak arises as a result of the digestion and defecation of coffee berries by the Palm civet.

All types of coffee in the world

Below, I’m gonna give you the complete list of all types of coffee that you can order around the world! I tried them all, and how many did you know?

  • Espresso (in its variants, short or long): the coffee most drunk by Italians, in a cup and characterized by a strong and intense taste;
espresso in tazzina
  • Decaffeinated : espresso, in its caffeine-free variant;
  • Filtered coffee : it is the type of coffee preferred by connoisseurs. During the preparation phase, variables such as temperature, acidity and bitterness of the drink can be controlled;
  • Marocchino : coffee, chocolate and whipped cream. A delight for the sweet tooth;
  • Capuccino: the world’s most drunk variant! At breakfast, to dirnk with a pizza, after dinner … steamed milk (which forms the typical foam of this drink) combined with espresso coffee, everyone agrees!
  • “Latte” or Caffè latte : it is like a cappuccino, but the milk is not frothed;
  • Latte macchiato : it is a latte, but with a small part of coffee compared to Latte;
  • Flat white : it is halfway between a cappuccino and a “latte”. As in cappuccino, milk is steamed, creating a froth without bubbles, and compared to “Latte” it is smaller and stronger;
  • Mocha : prepared with cocoa powder, it is halfway between cappuccino and hot chocolate;
  • Americano (black or white): it is one of the most popular at breakfast, in England and throughout northern Europe. It is an espresso coffee to which hot water is added;
  • Black Coffee : it is prepared in the same way as the Americano, but with a double espresso;
  • Caffé corretto : widespread and known above all in Italy (and in particular in the North), it is an espresso to which a few drops of a liqueur (such as Bayles, Sambuca, grappa, amaro, etc.) are added to warm up the cold winter days ;
  • Cortado : let’s move now to Spain, where this variant originates, as you can guess from the name. It is one of the most common ways of drinking this drink: it is espresso and milk in equal parts. The latter is heated with steam, but without getting to take on the foamy texture;
  • Leche y leche : originally from the Canary Islands. It is served in a glass through which you can see the stratification of the ingredients: condensed milk, espresso and liquid milk;
  • Irish coffee : also in this case, from the union of alcohol and coffee, another delicious way to consume this drink. The original recipe includes: 90 ml of hot coffee, 25 ml of Irish whiskey, 30 ml of cold liquid cream and a teaspoon of brown sugar;
  • Caffè Leccese: originating in Italy’s Pugliese province, it is made by mixing espresso coffee with almond milk and an ice cube;
  • Turkish Coffee : so called because the preparation technique originates in Turkey, but is actually consumed throughout the Middle East. It is made from very finely ground coffee using a special copper pot called a cezve. It is usually served flavored with cinnamon or cardamom;
  • Viennese coffee : as its name suggests, it has Austrian origins. A must to try in one of the traditional Viennese cafes , it is prepared with whipped cream over an espresso;
caffè viennese
  • Ginseng coffee : again, widespread especially in Italy. Originating from China and Korea, ginseng root is the main ingredient in this drink. It is prepared with a special machine and has a sweeter taste but is much more energizing than a simple espresso, as it is an invigorating, stimulating and digestive root;
  • Barley coffee: consumed mainly in Italy, it is prepared with barley powder and boiling water. A Christmas version involves adding a slice of orange and a pinch of cinnamon to the hot drink;
  • Shaken coffee : it is a great refreshing alternative for hot summer days. It is prepared with espresso coffee (previously cooled), ice and liquid sugar, all mixed together in a shaker;

All the ways to prepare coffee

For most Italians, there are only two ways to brew coffee: mocha or espresso with a coffee machine (be it the one in a bar or its home version).

Below, however, I list all the ways/procedures for making good coffee:

  • Espresso coffee machine : to be clear, it is what is served to us at the bar, strong and creamy, which is prepared with a special machine, with which you can control the temperature of the water, the pressure and the grinding of the coffee beans .
macchina espresso
Espresso machine
  • Moka (coffee maker) : in all Italian homes there is always (at least) a coffee moka. It exists in different sizes (from 2, 3, 6 … 12 cups etc.) and colors. Making coffee with a coffee maker requires water and ground coffee (usually robusta quality).
  • Neapolitan coffee maker : finally, the last variant to prepare a good Italian (and in particular, Neapolitan) coffee is with the Cuccuma . It is a particular type of coffee maker that consists of two interlocking metal cups. Coffee is obtained through the slow passage of the liquid (water, also in this case) through a solid filter (the coffee powder).
cuccuma napoletana
Neapolitan Cuccuma
  • Cevze : is the copper instrument with which coffee is prepared and consumed in Turkey and throughout the Middle East. In this case, freshly ground coffee, or crushed in a mortar, is used. Two teaspoons of coffee powder are calculated for each cup and quantity of water based on the cups to be prepared. The water is brought to the boil very slowly and is served by letting the powder settle on the bottom of the cup. In Turkish homes, there will always be a Cezve boiling over the fire.
Cezve (Turkish coffee)
  • Dallah : it is the Arabic “coffee pot”. Tall and narrow, a cup of water is inserted for each guest plus half a cup for boiling water, and freshly ground coffee powder (Arabica) mixed with cardamom seeds is used. Bring the water to boil, add a teaspoon of ground coffee to each cup, mix well and repeat the operation three times. At the end, the coffee maker is beaten to make the dust settle on the bottom. Once served, yu should wait again for the powder to settle, to finally enjoy all the aroma of this balsamic coffee.
  • French press : a special glass container is used, and it is always a hot extraction. Hot water (about 200 ml) is poured on the coffee powder (which must have a medium coarse grind), 6-8 grams per serving are calculated. It is mixed and left to rest for 5-6 minutes. Finally, the lid is closed and the plunger is lowered (therefore, with a pressure mechanism) to obtain the filtered and ready-to-drink coffee. There is a variant with cold extraction, called Cold brew coffee .
  • American coffee (or filter coffee) : it is prepared with the special machine, always present in any American film / TV series. It is a very liquid coffee (less dense than the Italian one, due to the very thick paper filter that filters the coffee beans and oils) and rich in caffeine. Mainly widespread in the United States and Great Britain.

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