Coffee Your Way
If you’re a coffee lover, nothing quite beats the aroma of a freshly brewed cup in the morning. However, when it comes to coffee, we tend to stick to what we know rather than experimenting with different types to expand our coffee palates. So which is right for you?
Otherwise known as a “short black”, an espresso is the perfect coffee for connoisseurs who appreciate the bean in its purest form. An espresso is short and served straight up (generally approximately 30mL of espresso) with no added milk or extras. If you want to step it up another level, try the ‘doppio’, which is the same as a short black but with two shots of espresso. Espresso is also used as the base for many other coffees but is equally delicious by itself.
Perhaps not for the faint hearted, a long black is made by pouring a double shot of espresso over hot water. It is served in a larger cup than an espresso and is rich and strongly flavoured, while still retaining a thin latte crema (layer of foamed milk on top). This type is often known as an “Americano” outside of Australia, but its exact interpretation can differ according to the region and barista.
A macchiato is available in both short and long varieties. A short macchiato is basically a single espresso shot (approximately 30mL) filled with creamy steamed milk and finished with a small layer of foam, while a long macchiato contains a double shot (approximately 60mL) of coffee. Ideally they are both made using the “velvet microfoam” technique which adds tiny air bubbles to the milk to give it a dense texture.
When espresso meets latte. Also known as a “Mezzo Mezzo”, a piccolo is a single espresso shot served in a small latte glass which is filled with a small amount of steamed milk on top. A piccolo is a great choice for people who want a strong tatse but haven’t yet acquired the taste of a straight espresso.
With its distinctive froth on top, the ever-popular cappuccino is often served with a dusting of chocolate powder to finish. A cappuccino is one part espresso shot, one part textured milk and one part froth on top. This layering gives it a more complex taste and texture and is perfect for those who like a creamier, sweeter coffee.
If you prefer yours on the creamier side, a latte will be a popular choice. A latte is basically an espresso shot filled with steamed milk with a layer of foamed milk on top. Lattes contain one or more shots of espresso depending on the size of the cup and the individual barista’s technique.
Often confused with a latte due to their similar coffee ratios and ingredients, a flat white is the coffee of choice for many Australians and is made with espresso and milk. The difference between a flat white and a latte is that a flat white uses smoother, un-textured milk (no air incorporated when being steamed), resulting in a thinner layer of micro foam on top. This gives the flat white a smoother consistency and texture.
If you prefer a yours which is extra creamy and sweet, you may want to try a Vienna coffee. Usually made with two espresso shots and whipped cream, a Vienna is often topped with chocolate for an extra sweetness hit. It’s like a coffee and dessert all in one.
For coffee lovers who prefer their beverage on the cold side, a cold brew, in simple terms, is a glass of cold-brewed coffee. To make a cold brew, the beans are mixed with water and left to steep for a long period of time. A cold brew can be served either straight up or with milk and syrups added according to taste. Since it is made with cooler water, a cold brew is not typically as strong as a long black so can easily be enjoyed black.
If you’re a real coffee connoisseur, you may have heard of a nitro coffee. Typically served in specialist coffee bars, a nitro coffee is infused with nitrogen gas, which results in a dense and creamy cold beverage Why use nitrogen gas? The nitrogen gives the beans a rich and frothy appearance almost like a dark beer.
Originating in Melbourne, a magic coffee is made with a double ristretto and topped with steamed milk. A “ristretto”, should you be wondering, is an espresso that has been restricted or modified in some way. As it has a double ristretto as its base, this has an extra-creamy and rich mouth feel. The thin microfoam resembles
a flat white but with a stronger flavour punch, which is a step above a flat white and latte. If you ask for a “magic coffee”, just make sure the baristas outside of Victoria know what you’re talking about, or you might find yourself pulling a rabbit out of your cup.
Which beans to choose?
A good cup of coffee starts with using good-quality ingredients. Once you have decided your coffee of choice, then it’s time to pick your favourite beans. There are many factors which affect coffee flavour, including the type of bean, terroir, type of roast, and whether it’s single origin or a blend.
A major difference in the type of coffee is single versus blended coffee. Single origin refers to beans that are processed in the same location (often the same farm) which results in a distinct, pure coffee flavour. Blended coffee is made up of beans from two or more different places and has the advantage of being less vulnerable to seasonal fluctuations. Blends usually work well with milky coffee varieties and are often served as the default espresso option at cafes as they have a more uniform and consistent flavour profile.
Your preference for different types of beans and brewing techniques can largely depend on if you prefer yours black or with milk. For most in-home methods, it’s best to opt for lighter coffee designed for filter roast unless you’re making milky coffees at home. Then it’s best to buy coffee which is roasted for espresso. Filter coffee is extracted more slowly as it spends more time in contact with water, which results in a delicate, light-bodied brew.
Do your own research and find out where the beans comes from, how it is roasted and if it has been sourced ethically and sustainably. Acidity, strength and flavour profile usually depend on the region the coffee is from. Look out for extra information about the bean, its specific tasting notes, and buy from a local roaster whenever possible.