A Guide To Types of Coffee Drinks

With 2 billion cups drunk a day, coffee is the most popular drink globally.

Because of the versatility of this delicious drink, it has been recrafted again and again. This recrafting has created an array of options to be sipped and savoured.

As one of the leading UK coffee chains, we share our expertise on the subject, so if you're wondering how you can liven up your go-to cup of coffee, look no further.

In this article, we explore all you need to know about coffee beans, as well as how to pair your coffee with food perfectly!





  • What is Sustainably Sourced Coffee?


  • Coffee Ingredients and Ratios


  • Milk Ratio Vs Espresso


  • What are The Different Types of Coffee?


  • How is Iced Coffee Made?


  • What Food Pairs Well With Coffee?



A coffee bean plant branch

Types of Coffee Beans

The making of a great cup of coffee lies in the beans used. Here at Esquires, all of our franchises use organically produced Fairtrade coffee. We choose to support the farmers that grow our coffee beans and in turn, help them to grow their businesses!

The quality of the coffee beans will naturally influence the taste of the coffee, and naturally, we only strive for the best.

When first learning about coffee, it can be quite confusing to wrap your mind around the different types of coffee available. To make things simpler, there are four main types of coffee bean:

  • Arabica
  • Robusta
  • Liberia
  • Excelsa

You might recognise Arabica and Robusta from your local coffee shops. Arabica is predicted to be the source of 60% of the entire planet's coffee production. Because they're slightly more difficult to grow and regarded as the highest quality coffee bean, they're often a bit more expensive. However, there's no denying the taste is worth it.

If you're more inclined to a coffee with a bit of an edge, you might prefer Robusta. It's renowned for having a slight bitterness compared to the smoothness of an Arabica.

What Affects Coffee Bean Flavour?

Although there are four types of coffee beans, their taste is not restricted to their species; a number of factors can influence their flavour,including:

  • The coffee farm’s region and altitude
  • The coffee farm’s soil
  • The roasting, grinding or brewing method

A black coffee on a wooden board

What is Sustainably Sourced Coffee?

Another essential to consider is how your coffee is sourced. An ethically-sourced coffee will support the farmers by ensuring they are paid fairly for their crop.

Here at Esquires Coffee, we are determined to use Fairtrade and organic products. We believe that these services will positively impact everyone involved, from the farmer to the customer. Our ethos ensures that the local community and the environment are at the heart of what we do.

You can spot sustainably sourced coffee by the transparency of a company's supply chain, which should be able to trace their coffee back to its origin and list the farm or farmer who grew the coffee bean. This transparency should follow through to the price paid to the farmer.

Sustainable coffee will also be stamped with a sustainability certification logo that will divulge everything you need to know about the beans.

What to look for in a sustainable franchise

Coffee Ingredients and Ratios

All coffee drinks begin with one main ingredient: Espresso. Ingredients can be added, such as steamed milk and milk foam, but not all drinks will contain these additional ingredients.

However, the main difference between coffee drinks is the ratio.

What is The Ratio of Coffee?

The general guideline of the coffee-to-water ratio is referred to as the "golden ratio". This consists of two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water. However, the ratio can easily be adjusted to suit individual taste preferences.

An espresso and Moka pot

Milk Ratio Vs Espresso

If we look at three of the most popular coffee drinks - the flat white, the cappuccino and the latte - you'll notice they all offer distinct differences.

A latte is recognised for its silky-smooth texture and a soft layer of foam on top. This has been crafted to create a creamy flavour.

A latte has a 1:3 coffee-to-milk ratio with a 1cm foam top served in a tall glass.

A flat white is served in a smaller cup when compared to a latte. It has a coffee-to-milk ratio of 1:2, but the milk is treated differently to a cappuccino and latte. The steamed milk will have a microfoam layer, unlike a cappuccino's stiff foam top, and will generally have half the milk of a latte for a more profound taste.

A cappuccino is made of three equal thirds. The coffee-to-milk ratio consists of 1:1:1, with the last ratio being milk foam.

These simple but distinctly different ratios are what make the world of coffee so diverse and delicious!

A selection of different coffee drinks

What are The Different Types of Coffee?

Although all coffee drinks are enjoyed on the basis that they are made from espresso, coffee can be altered to create a world of new flavours and infusions.

Adjustments can be made using syrups, making the drink extra hot or even pouring over ice. You can alternate the milk between full fat, semi-skimmed or even milk alternatives such as cashew, oat, coconut and more!

We've put together this guide to make sense of the variations; take a look at our infographic below!

How is Espresso Different from Coffee?

The difference between espresso and coffee is how it's prepared; in other words, espresso is a type of coffee.

Espressos are made by forcing water at high pressure through the finely ground coffee beans. While brewing, the concentrated oils within the espresso are extracted, forming a 'crema'. This is what creates its rich and intense aroma.

Espresso generally requires a darker roast, fine grind and high pressure to produce an ounce of concentrated coffee, otherwise known as a shot.

An espresso is made of one part coffee.

A latte and a sweet snack

What Makes a Latte a Latte?

The name latte is derived from the Italian 'caffe latte', which translates to 'coffee milk'.

A latte is another way to enjoy your coffee; it combines the intensity of a shot of espresso with silky steamed milk and a thin layer of foam.

Other than its creamy texture, it also offers creativity through various types of latte art.

A latte is made of:

  • One part coffee
  • Three parts milk
  • Topped with foam

How Much Milk is in a Cappuccino?

A cappuccino contains less milk than a latte - half to be exact. Because a latte and a cappuccino contain the same amount of espresso, the cappuccino holds a much more intense and natural flavour.

A cappuccino is made of:

  • One part coffee
  • Once part milk
  • One part foam

How did the Cappuccino Get its Name?

In Italy, the word cappuccino translates to 'little cap'. The name originates from the Capuchin friars, where the colour of the Capuchin robe perfectly matches the mixture of the espresso and frothed milk in a cappuccino.

Two hands holding a flat white

Where do Flat Whites Originate From?

The origin of the flat white is still uncertain, but one thing is for sure: the flat white has been enjoyed since the 1980s and has since become a coffee house staple in the UK.

The flat white has two origin stories which are largely debated. One stems from Queensland, where a man named Alan Preston opened the Moors Espresso Bar and offered several versions of white coffee and used the term 'flat white'.

The second takes place in Wellington, New Zealand, where Fraser McInnes worked as a barista. He took a cappuccino order and, when making it, couldn't get the milk to rise due to its fat content. When he handed it to the customer, he apologised for the 'flat white'.

How Much Coffee is in a Flat White?

A flat white is a coffee drink that consists of espresso and microfoam. This gives the drink its glossy and velvety consistency.

Flat whites can be enjoyed in two ways; they can either be served with very little foam or a lot of foam. The foam is never dry and should be velvety with a few bubbles.

Most coffee lovers enjoy the flat white as it offers all of the qualities of coffee, while the milk adds an extra layer of luxury.

A flat white is made up of:

  • A double shot of espresso
  • Topped with milk
  • Finished with microfoam

What Exactly is Mocha?

The mocha coffee drink originates from Mocha, Yemen. Initially, Mocha was the only place where the arabica coffee plant could grow.

A mocha is a blend of the rich intensity of a cappuccino and the silky sweetness of a hot chocolate. Similar to the cappuccino, it contains espresso, warm milk, and a frothy top, but it also has the added infusion of a sweet, chocolatey twist. Chocolate can be added via powder, syrup or melted chocolate.

A mocha is made of:

  • One teaspoon of drinking chocolate
  • Once part coffee
  • One part milk
  • One part foam

A hand picking up an americano

Is An Americano Just Black Coffee?

In short, no. An Americano is a coffee drink that combines an espresso shot that is then diluted with water, as opposed to dripped coffee. The drink can be accompanied by either hot or cold milk.

The drink itself has a rich depth that can easily be enjoyed 'black.

An American is made up of:

  • One part espresso
  • Two parts water

Long Black Vs Americano

A long black and an americano are very similar; the main difference between the two is the order that the water and the espresso are added. For example, a long black is made by adding the espresso to the water; an americano is made by adding the water to the espresso.

A long black can sometimes be the preferred option as the drink lasts longer while still offering a rich and bold flavour, which is perfect for social occasions.

What Exactly is a Macchiato?

A macchiato is an espresso shot, topped with a small splash of milk and a foamy top, served in a demitasse glass.

This coffee drink is sometimes referred to as a dry cappuccino as the drinks share some similarities, excluding the steamed milk.

A macchiato is made up of:

  • A single shot of espresso
  • Milk foam froth top

Should You Stir a Macchiato?

Macchiatos were intended to offer you some caramel, espresso and milk in one sip. Traditionally, macchiatos aren't stirred, but whether or not you should or shouldn't will generally come down to your own personal preference.

Two iced coffees on a wooden board

How is Iced Coffee Made?

Coffee isn't only enjoyed hot! On a hot or humid day, you can cool off with an iced cup of coffee. It's one of the most thirst-quenching ways you get your fix. To make them even more tantalising, there are a number of different iced coffees to choose from!

Iced coffees are generally made by brewing the coffee to extract its full flavour and rich depth before instantly cooling it off over ice cubes.

The Original

The original is one of the humblest ways you can enjoy your coffee cold; it's simple and straight to the point.

The original is made up of:

  • Coffee
  • Ice
  • Dash of milk

Feel free to swap your milk for an alternative, a sweetener or even cream!

Cold Brew

A cold brew is a little more complex than the original. To create a cold brew, the beans first need to be steeped. The beans are usually steeped for six hours to a day and a half. The time taken to soak the beans will determine the strength of the drink.

Once the coffee has finished soaking, you can add in whatever you're feeling, whether milk, cream or some deliciously sweet syrup.

Iced Espresso

An iced espresso takes the timeless espresso and chills it. The espresso is cooled down with milk and poured over ice for a delicious delight.

A muffin and two coffees

What Food Pairs Well With Coffee?

For some, a cup of coffee isn't complete without a sweet treat to nibble on.

Coffee food pairing has grown increasingly popular. We've listed some signature combinations you need to try.

Coffee and Fruit Pairing

Some of the most delicious fruits you can enjoy with your coffee include:

  • Cherries
  • Plums
  • Blueberries
  • Chocolate-dipped fruit

Coffee and Sweet Treat Pairing

  • Pastries, including croissants and doughnuts
  • Biscotti
  • Sweetbreads
  • Shortbread
  • Chocolate

Coffee flavourings and spices

  • Cinnamon sprinkled in your coffee or on a bun!
  • Vanilla - simply order an affogato to see what we mean!

And within all this, you've still got caffeinated and decaf coffee to consider. To delve into this topic, check out our article on the pros and cons of decaf versus regular coffee

About the author - Jack Anderson

Jack has been working in the franchise sector for over 12 years and is our in-house guru on all things business! Jack is also a keen hiker and can be found in some of the UK's best walking spots on the weekends.