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 the UK saw cold brew coffee arrive in earnest, 2017 saw the cortado become such a hit that it graduated from hipster coffee houses to the menus of Costa and Starbucks. Who knows what 2018 holds for coffee trends, with a little thing known as a Bon Bon (a Spanish import that layers an espresso over condensed milk) beginning to crop up on UK menus.
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 Coffee
Keep scrolling for a breakdown of how each is made.
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!
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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.
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…
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 it’s ‘flat’ top compared to the cappuccino or smoother mouth feel than the latte.
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.
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 a 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.
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…
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.
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.
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 a 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.