For coffee drinkers, coffee isn’t just a beverage. It is an emotion that has been brewing for centuries now. A drink that suits all weather, occasion and context, coffee’s versatility has made the beverage all the more popular. Strong, light, piping hot or even ice cold, there is a coffee for every occasion.
As per a survey conducted by Coffee Business Intelligence, coffee consumption in India has been growing at about five percent per annum since the turn of the century. While Southern India was already used to the idea of coffee, it was the growth of the cafe culture in the early 2000s that introduced the rest of the country to this beverage. With new trends and recipes popping up every day, it is difficult to keep track of the various coffee preparations that are available now, especially for a novice. Here is a quick beginner’s guide on how to order or make the best coffee at home:
- Latte: This popular beverage is essentially made with espresso and steamed milk. The drink is said to have originated in Italy and the name is derived from the Italian word ‘caffelatte’, which means coffee and milk. Karan Upadhyay, a chef, shares, “A latte contains one-third espresso, two-thirds heated milk and is topped off with a layer of foamed milk. A cafe latte is a great beverage to begin with if someone is trying coffee for the first time. Although the coffee content is high, the coffee to milk ratio can mask the bitter taste of the coffee making it appealing to beginners. The creamy texture of the beverage gives it a rich taste and the coffee content is high enough for people to get the much desired kick. This beverage is a great way to be introduced to the world of coffee.”
- Cappuccino: “As baristas, we have been trained to inform the customer that a cappuccino is a bitter drink. A first time coffee drinker might not want to come back to coffee if he or she is introduced to cappuccino instead of a latte,” shares Manav Shukla, a barista, working at a popular cafe chain. Cappuccinos are made up of equal portions of coffee, steamed milk and foamed milk (as opposed to higher content of steamed milk in a latte). The layers of milk and coffee is much more defined in a cappuccino as compared to a latte. “Cappuccinos are not recommended for beginners as the overwhelming taste of the coffee might not be liked by them. On the other hand, cappuccinos are a great beverage for those who are familiar with coffee but are not fond of just espresso or an Americano coffee that is essentially concentrated coffee made without milk or sugar,” adds Shukla.
- Espresso and Americano: Those who are accustomed to the flavour of coffee, know how rich and textured a cup of espresso or Americano coffee can be. Made without milk, sugar or any other similar ingredient, these two beverages are just dark, black coffees. Shilpa Saxena, owner of a cafe that specialises in coffee, shares, “In India, there are very few espresso shot drinkers. Espresso is made using hot water or steam that is added to finely ground coffee. The result is a concentrated mix of pure coffee that is then added to other coffee beverages. To make an americano, on the other hand, hot water is added to the concentrated espresso shot making it much less concentrated coffee. Excessively bitter, these beverages are not preferred by non-traditional coffee drinkers. It is usually coffee enthusiasts that prefers this bold and strong concoction.”
- Frappes: Frappe is an iced coffee variant made with instant coffee, water, milk and sugar. This drink originated in Greece and is popular among those who don’t wish to drink bitter traditional coffee. Archana Shinde, shares, “I like to refer to frappes as ‘dessert in a cup’. These beverages are sweet, rich and flavourful. The coffee flavour adds the necessary zing to frappes, making it a popular beverage even among non-coffee drinkers. The drink was made popular by the various cafe chains that came to India, and now almost all cafes offer this beverage.”
- Iced coffee: As the name suggests, iced coffee is made with previously brewed coffee that is poured over milk and ice and served cold. In comparison to frappes, iced coffee is more bitter as the sugar content is lower. Iced Americano is a form of iced coffee that is made with brewed coffee and ice. Saxena explains, “There are quite a few variants of iced coffee and those who like coffee, love to experiment with the different textures of iced coffee. This beverage is popular among traditional coffee drinkers.”
- Cold brews: These beverages are made with concentrated chilled (never heated) coffee which is then mixed with water. This beverage has a higher coffee to water ratio. Although they taste stronger than drip coffee, they often have lesser caffeine content.
A beginner’s guide to understanding coffee:
- Espresso: Finely ground coffee that’s brewed under a lot of pressure. The result is a concentrated shot of pure coffee
- Americano: A beverage made by adding water to a shot of espresso
- Cappuccino: Made with equal portions of espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk
- Latte: Made with one-third espresso, two-thirds steamed milk and topped off with a layer of foamed milk
- Frappes: Made with ice, water/milk, instant coffee and sugar. One can add flavours like caramel, chocolate and more to frappes
Coffee trends to look out for:
- Nitro cold brew: The beverage uses a process traditionally used by beer homebrewers, infusing nitrogen gas into the coffee through a pressurized valve. The beverage is made with cold brew, that is coffee made cold water. This brew is then mixed with pressurised nitrogen gas that adds a unique flavour, texture and fizz to the drink.
- Matcha lattes: Made with green tea powder instead of espresso, these caffeine beverages are healthier. These beverages have lesser caffeine content and have become hugely popular lately.
- Plant based coffee beverages: These coffee drinks are made with non-dairy milk like soy milk, oat milk, almond milk and other similar ingredients. They are considerably healthier and are a great option for those who follow a vegan lifestyle.