We all fall into a routine sooner or later, we like what we like, and that's that! Some of us are completely content with that, as we sip our cup of black coffee every morning while reading the newspaper, or scrolling through social media. To many, the best coffees are just not worth pursuing simply because we don't like change.
Yet, there are a few of you out there that sit there every morning feeling unsatisfied. Yes, the coffee we are drinking is delicious, but we find ourselves wondering what the best coffees are and if they are worth finding.
Are you missing out? Is there a simple list of all coffees explained in detail to make it all easier? What is the difference between espresso and coffee? How much caffeine is in coffee? Well look no further, you're in luck!
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Best Coffees - All Coffee Types
If you are anything like me, you'll agree that coffee can be complicated and overwhelming. Even though I know what I like, I find myself panicking when I get to the front of the line at a new cafe. This is especially true when the cafe or coffee shop uses their own verbiage and names.
I remember being completely lost at Starbucks when they asked if I wanted a grande or a venti. Are those types of coffees or are those coffee sizes? Well it turns out that I made the wrong choice that day and accidentally chose the smaller of the two options.
Not to worry, by the end of this guide you'll be a coffee expert. So, the best place to start is with the types of beans, where coffees come from, the roasting style, the extraction method, the different types of coffee drinks and where to find the best coffee!
Different Types of Coffee Beans
Different Coffee Species
There are four main species of coffee, consider these the four founding fathers of coffee as we know it. The two most well know species of coffee are Arabica (coffea arabica) and Robusta (Coffea caniphora). The other two species are Excelsa (Coffea excelsa) and Liberica (Coffea liberica), both of which you've probably already forgotten what they were called. Most specialty coffee roasters only source Arabica coffee, that's what we roast at Black Ink Coffee Company.
Different Coffee Types
Coffee species can be broken down further into unique coffee varietals, some of which are naturally produced while others are synthetically grown coffee beans. Regardless, there are thousands of varietals that fall under the Arabica coffee species, let alone the entire coffee eco-system. One may wonder if there are any benefits to having so many varietals of coffee, and the answer is simple, yes.
Some coffee is delicious with amazing flavor notes, but will not stand up to harsh weather conditions and diseases. Other coffee varietals are extremely resilient but are also lacking in the taste department. In order for coffee to survive and avoid being wiped out entirely, we need a versatile mix of coffee plant varietals and species.
Coffee Single Origins
Where Coffee Comes From
Chances are, you've stumbled upon the phrase "Single Origin" within a coffee menu and had no idea what that meant. A Single Origin is just where the coffee came from (the area it was produced in). For example, if a coffee is an Ethiopian Single Origin, you know that the coffee was grown in Africa on a coffee farm in Ethiopia. Each single origin is disgustingly different in it's inherent characteristics. Some coffees are fruity and floral (Kenyan or Ethiopian), whereas others are chocolate/nutty and heavier bodied (Brazil or Colombian). Some of the best coffees are created when blending specific Single Origins to provide a well rounded cup of coffee.
Coffee Brewing and Extraction Methods
Drip Coffee - Easiest Coffee
This is the standard method of brewing that most people conduct in their own homes with a drip coffee machine. These machines pass hot water through a coffee basket containing fresh coffee and then get filtered out into a carafe. I'll admit, this is probably the easiest method of brewing coffee which is why most homes carry these devices, it is truly a set it and forget it solution. While they have come a long way, these machines have a hard time equally dispersing the water over the coffee grounds, which makes for an uneven extraction. Also, anything mechanical or electrical is bound to break down at some point in time. These may not produce the best coffees, but at least they are consistent and easy.
Pour Over Coffee - Best Tasting Coffee
For the best tasting cup of coffee that provides a rich and clean coffee experience, look no further than the pour over. It is my personal favorite and one of the best coffees you can experience. There are a few variations of the pour over depending on the technique and the equipment used. Personally, I like to use a Chemex, but for a cheaper alternative, many people use the Hario V60. The method of brewing consists of grinding coffee beans and placing them inside of a filter within the pour over device. For a Chemex, it is recommended to use a coarse grind, whereas a V60 requires a finer grind. Both methods then undergo a manual circular pouring technique with a kettle containing water at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. I won't go into specifics on the art of making a pour over, what a bloom is, and why it makes a better cup but it's worth looking up on YouTube.
Espresso Coffee - Quickest Coffee
An espresso is achieved by forcing hot water through a puck of finely ground coffee that has been packed down. This is the strongest concentrate of coffee you can extract from coffee beans, it's like eating a small handful of coffee beans. One small shot of espresso coffee contains roughly 70 mg of caffeine, even more for Robusta beans. Pulling an espresso shot is more difficult than it appears, but when done properly, there will be a foamy layer of crema on top of the espresso shot. Not only does this layer of crema let the barista know that they did a good job, it is also what gives an espresso it's unique flavor. For the quickest way to make coffee, an espresso machine is your best option as it only takes 20 seconds to extract, but who's counting?
French Press Coffee - Most Flavorful
The French Press is a steeping device that allows for you to fully saturate and infuse the coarsely ground coffee with hot water (195 degrees Fahrenheit). After roughly 5-6 minutes of steeping time, slowly press the French Press plunger down, filtering the coffee grounds from the coffee infused water. Once fully pressed down, you are left with a very strong and flavorful cup of coffee. The French Press does not utilize a paper filter which allows for the flavorful oils and taste compounds to remain within the cup. If you struggle with acid reflux, this method may not be the best option for you as it is often heavy bodied and acidic.
Aeropress Coffee - Easiest Cleanup
An Aeropress is a device that was invented after the French Press. Many people get these confused, but the way they work is entirely different. The Aeropress extraction method is achieved with pressure, sort of like an espresso. The only difference is that the coffee grounds are not as fine and actually sits in the water for 1-2 minutes steeping before you start to apply pressure. This is where the Aeropress shines compared to a French Press in that the pressure allows for you to grab more solids and caffeine from the coffee. There are attachments that you can buy that will allow for you to get a great quality espresso shot using an Aeropress. Look up the Scott Rao double filter Aeropress technique.
Turkish Coffee - Strongest Coffee
Listen, I won't judge you if this is how you like your coffee. The Turkish method of making coffee is quite unique. It involves boiling hot water and finely ground coffee (finer than espresso) together until the water becomes super saturated with the coffee, essentially turning it into a cup of muddy water. There is no doubt that this method will give you the strongest and thickest cup of coffee. If you do not like bitter coffee, this method is not for you!
Cold Brew Coffee - Low Acid Coffee
Cold Brew is made using an extraction method known as slow immersion. This is when room temperature (or cold) water is added to the coffee and left alone to steep for hours before the coffee grounds are filtered out. There is a lot of debate on the best way to make cold brew, but at the end of the day, it's whatever you enjoy. I typically wait 24-36 hours before I filter the coffee grounds out of the cold brew concentrate. Since we are not using hot water or pressure to extract the coffee, the remaining cup will have much less acidity, earning the spot on the coffee guide for one of the best coffees.
Vacuum | Siphon Coffee - Hipster Coffee
Imagine taking a drip coffee machine, and flipping it upside down. That is sort of what you get with a siphon or vacuum chamber. These machines shine because the extraction method is achieved using pressure and hot water. With highly controlled water temperature, total immersion and a full extraction, these produce a great balanced cup of coffee. If it wasn't for the price, the difficulty involved with cleaning them and the inability to scale in size, these would still be common in restaurants/cafes today like they were in the past. If you are a coffee geek, this should be your next purchase as it will produce one of the best coffees you have ever tasted.
Moka Pot - Most Versatile
A Moka Pot is more than just a fun thing to say, it actually is one of the best ways to make a strong and bold cup of coffee. Similarly to an espresso shot, the Moka Pot is extracted using forced hot water through coffee grounds. For those of us that love espresso drinks, the Moka Pot is as close as you can get (with the exception of the Aeropress) without the rich crema or oils.
Coffee Drinks | Top 5 Best Coffees
The latte is one of the most popular types of coffees. Containing one shot of espresso and three parts steamed milk, these are one of the best coffees you can find as it is both creamy, yet strong.
2.) Hot Coffee
With so many innovative ways to brew coffee, it may be a surprise that hot coffee from a standard drip coffee pot is preferred and one of the most popular methods. Whether you think it belongs on the list for the best coffees, it is what most of us know. We grew up loving it, it's easy and very reliable.
The Macchiato is the hybrid between a latte and a straight shot of espresso. Some refer to it as an espresso with a milk stain since it consists of a small layer of steamed milk. The Macchiato is for you if an espresso is too strong and a latte has too much milk.
The cappuccino is another popular coffee at most cafes. It consists of three equal parts, espresso, steamed milk and milk foam. For those of you that enjoy lattes and have yet to experience the wonders of milk foam, you are missing out. Try a cappuccino next time, not only are they delicious but they are also a lot of fun to drink!
5.) Cold Brew
The cold brew has recently become the go to coffee beverage for many in the summers. It has taken the place of iced coffee simply for it's ability to provide a full bodied experience while also offering a bold and low acid coffee solution. If you like iced coffee and have not tried cold brew, give it a whirl. To make it even better, try it with milk foam and some cinnamon.
Where to Buy the Best Coffee
Was that really worth asking? We take great pride in being artisans of the trade. In order to craft the best coffee possible, it starts with the highest quality beans that we can source. From there, we hone our skills spending countless hours perfecting our roasting skills in a way that will bring the best out of the coffee bean. We taste test a sample from every batch of coffee that we make and will always send you fresh roasted coffee to suite your caffeine cravings.
2.) Local Coffee Roasters
You should always support your local coffee roaster if you can, just Google coffee roasters near me and see what you find. I guarantee they are putting their heart and soul into the end product. Many of these coffee roasters spend countless hours perfecting their roasts and love nothing more than to see you enjoying their coffee. Chances are, your local roaster relies on you to buy coffee from them so that they can feed their family. Instead of wasting all that money at Starbucks, go support your local coffee dealer!
3.) Small Batch Coffee Roasters
Most local coffee roasters are also small batch roasters, meaning they roast less than a full sack of coffee at a time (right around 150 pounds). For those of you that do not live near a local craft roaster, go find a good small batch roaster to buy directly from.
4.) Specialty Coffee Roasters
When you are unable to find a local or small batch coffee roaster that you enjoy, the next best option is specialty coffee. Bigger specialty coffee brands may not care about their customers, but at least they care about the coffee. Specialty coffee means that they are buying healthier and better quality coffee, most of which is organic and traceable. You'll notice that specialty coffee tastes much better than the Folgers and Maxwell House your grandparents still drink.
5.) Everyone Else
If you need your caffeine fix and want to stop for a quick coffee at Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks, we've been there and understand. Personally, I recommend Pete's Coffee if you are on a budget and need something quick and easy from the grocery store, but that's just me. If there is something you like and you can afford it, stick with it.
Enjoy learning about our coffee? Be sure to check out our weekly blogs to stay in the know! Also, follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with the latest news from Black Ink Coffee Company.