It seems like every year there is a new coffee gracing the blackboard in our favourite spot. The premier of a new caffeinated creation is a big moment in the life of any local foodie, and you can be sure for details of precisely where, when and how to order one to be hot topics on social media.
In the summer of 2016 cold brew coffee arrived in the UK. 2017 saw the cortado become such a hit that it graduated from hipster coffee houses to the menus of Costa and Starbucks. The latter introduced nitrogen-brewed coffee a year later. A growing number of vegan menu items led to Costa Coffee and Pret A Manger removing plant-based milk surcharges in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed production and demand in 2020 but it did see a trend for the subscription model, where coffee is delivered to your door. This year the industry is expecting people will be more than ready to venture out and enjoy coffee once more.
Whether you’re opening a coffee shop or have been a barista for years, here are the essential drinks for you to have on your menu to be in the best position when it comes to catering to the coffee-loving public.
Different Types of Traditional Coffee Drinks
There are so many options now when it comes to traditional coffee and different spins on old favourites. Here’s a comprehensive list of old and new coffee drinks you need on your menu.
Keep scrolling for a breakdown of how each is made.
Simple but effective. Steep coffee beans in hot water and serve warm. There you have it: a black, or café noir, to give it the correct name. As you’re not adding sugar or milk, be aware that the quality of your coffee is very important. You’ve nothing else to fall back on.
Best to learn the full name of this one (caffè latte) as asking for a latte in its native Italy will get you a cup of milk. Outside of its home country, the latte has become a popular choice of coffee shop treat, helped in no small way by it’s being served in tall, elegant glass mugs. A standard latte contains:
- Steamed milk
- Foamed milk for topping (and, that Instagram essential, latte art.
The most Instagram-worthy lattes will have a smooth gradient, darkest at the bottom and perfectly white at the top, though this is a modern trend in the drink’s very long pan-European history. It’s also one of the most easily customisable drinks, especially when winter rolls around and the addition of gingerbread, peppermint or chai syrups make it suitably festive. On the other side of the world, a very similar but, as many coffee fanatics will insist, completely different drink came into being and it’s vital that your café is able to serve to perfection both the latte and the flat white.
A coffee that was already a firm favourite before the boom in high street coffee shops, the Cappuccino is an absolute essential for any menu, to be served in its signature oversized cups, of course.
- Hot milk
- Foamed milk for topping
- Cocoa powder dusting
The drink is said to date back as early as the 18th century though didn’t become known outside of Italy until the 1930s. A drink that should perfectly balance espresso richness, creamy milk and the essential fluffy foam top, this is one coffee creation you should definitely perfect if you want to keep customers happy.
While this may seem like a needlessly fancy way of ordering a black coffee, an Americano actually packs way more of a punch than your standard filtered stuff. To make one you’ll be needing:
- Hot water for topping
It’s said that this drink got its name during World War 2, when American soldiers based in Italy would dilute their espressos with water to make it more like the java they were used to back home. Whether that’s true or not, the Americano brings peace to the internal war customers may have with an overly long coffee menu. It’s a popular ‘entry level’ coffee for those purists who just need their caffeine hot, strong and black, and a morning essential for those who save their salted caramel mocha latte treats for later in the day.
The foundations of any coffee, the espresso is a super-powered shot of caffeine made by passing hot water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. The result is a strong, black coffee topped with a perfect crema. The drink’s origin is commonly attributed to the Italian Angelo Moriondo who patented the first coffee machine capable of creating the precise brew of an espresso.
The drink is the morning fuel of many European coffee drinkers, and whether or not this coffee is popular in your café in its basic form, its the absolute cornerstone of any respectable menu. Without a good espresso you won’t be able to make any of the following drinks!
Real hardcore coffee drinkers or those who need even more pep than usual might ask for a doppio. As the name (kind of suggests), this is basically a double shot of espresso.
- A small but mighty drink, served as a shot. The Cortado varies from the piccolo, which tops up an espresso shot with milk, by aiming to fill the same size glass with a distinct layering of:
- Steamed milk
- Microfoam milk top
Originating in Spain, the UK take on things is a bit more precise with milk and espresso being carefully measured to create a drink that is different to a piccolo.
This coffee is named after the overnight flights from the West Coast to New York. You’ll need:
- A cup of normal drip coffee, iced or hot
- A shot of espresso
Drinking one of these will keep you wide awake from airport to airport.
All the way from Portugal, this hot coffee is similar to a latte and cappuccino. It’s lighter than both though, and that’s down to the addition of twice as much foamed milk.
This is the Italian word for ‘long’, which makes sense as a lungo is:
An espresso shot with
Twice as much water than usual
This results in a longer, larger drink, for those who aren’t in a rush.
If a customer is unsure whether to go for a cappuccino or a doppio, direct them to a macchiato. It’s an espresso with a small amount of foam on top, making it an excellent compromise between the two.
A coffee with a twist, the mocha, also known as a mochaccino, combines caffeine and chocolate for a drink that satisfies multiple cravings at once. The mocha is commonly made and served in a similar way to a latte, with the addition of chocolate to the initial espresso, though some variations will balance an espresso shot on top of a hot chocolate.
- Cocoa powder or chocolate syrup
- Steamed milk
Being a hybrid of the latte and the hot chocolate means the mocha can pick and choose which traits it wants to import from each. Some establishments top their mochas with whipped cream and cocoa powder as per a hot chocolate, others will add some latte art to a foamed milk top.
This is a short shot of highly concentrated espresso. With less hot water involved, it creates a sweeter taste than the bitterness of an espresso or doppio.
A little smaller and a little more velvety than the latte, the flat white has gained something of a reputation as being the hallmark of a quality coffee shop – if you can make a great latte that is distinctly different to your great flat whites then you’ll be in good stead to keep your local coffee fiends happy. A perfect flat white uses:
- Micro Foamed milk
A coffee that started making its rounds in the coffee shops of Australia and New Zealand, it was quickly adopted by the UK as a smaller, stronger milky coffee drink, and is now a firm favourite of many who prefer its ‘flat’ top compared to the cappuccino or smoother mouth feel than the latte.
One for those with a sweet tooth. This Italian coffee-based dessert is a scoop of ice cream topped with a shot or two of hot espresso.
Café au lait
French for ‘coffee with milk’, that’s exactly what you’d serve for a café au lait. It’s simply coffee with a splash of hot milk.
This old-school cocktail consists of:
- Hot coffee
- Irish whiskey
- Sugar, stirred and topped with cream.
Different variations of this recipe date back to the mid-19th-century, where they were served in Viennese coffee houses.
A short drink served as a shot, the piccolo is a relatively new addition to the nation’s coffee habit, so much so that many coffee shops may not yet offer it – your perfect chance to stay ahead of the game.
- Steamed milk
Supposedly this drink originated in Australia and was a barista trick to let them sample the quality of their brews throughout the day without needing to make a fully fledged latte. The Piccolo is not to be confused with…
The closest thing to a coffee milkshake, the frappe is traditionally made in a cocktail shaker for a fluffy texture, served in a long glass and drank with a straw. A Greek creation that, many connoisseurs will be shocked to discover, is commonly made with instant coffee, the frappe is a popular treat for the hotter months.
- Instant coffee and sugar blended with water in a cocktail shaker
- Cold water
- Milk to taste
While Starbucks has made the more commonly recognised version of this drink the endlessly-customisable ‘frappuccino’ made with espresso, the basic form of this drink is simply coffee, water, ice and sugar.
Different types of Iced coffee drinks
Iced coffee can be any coffee made to be served cold, with ice. In many cases this will require sugar to be replaced with syrup so it can dissolve even in cold temperatures. Variations of iced coffee change from country to country, with Australia happy to top an ice coffee with ice cream, Germany finishes it with whipped cream and Japan’s most popular form is simply milk coffee packaged in a tin and served chilled. This gives your café a happy amount of leeway when it comes to creating a signature ice coffee creation of your own, or you can try some of these popular choices.
As simple as it gets. Iced coffee on a menu is a coffee with ice, often served with a dash of milk, sweetener or cream.
These can also be served straight or with milk, cream or sweetener. The speciality espresso drinks described above (Americanos), mochas, macchiatos, lattes and flat whites) can also be giving an icy touch too.
The newest, coolest (literally) kid on the block. You make cold brew coffees by steeping coffee beans for between six and 36 hours, depending on required strength. When they’re done steeping, add a splash of cold milk or some cream.
Popular blended iced coffee drink trademarked by Starbucks (so beware of imitating). Their line is topped with whipped cream and flavoured syrups. Be aware there are coffee-free versions out there too, though.
Here’s another that’s making waves in coffee shops of late. Add nitrogen bubbles to a cold brew, poured via a nitro tap, to make a cold brew that has a smooth texture that’s Guinness-like in its consistency.
This exotic-sounding iced coffee with a kick originated in Algeria. Usually it consists of:
Portuguese versions also add a touch of mint.
Now you know what your coffee shop needs to serve to get customers flocking in. Next, you must find a simple, intuitive café point of sale for your business. Choose Square Point of Sale. With easy-to-use software, no subscription fee and ways to improve your team’s workflow and customer feedback collection, it’s the natural next step in your coffee shop’s success story.