We all love a hot, steaming cup of coffee on a rainy afternoon, don’t we? And we all seem to have a favorite type. While our obsession with coffee continues to grow – for some it’s a morning ritual, a solitary pleasure and for the others, it’s a social stimulant, a must for every conversation or discussion – we must admit that we know next to nothing about our beloved beverage.
The Week talked to Bishal Bhattarai, training manager at Himalayan Beanz Coffee, to put that to an end to that and understand the differences between the different types of coffee available. Armed with all this information, the next time you order a cup of coffee you will know exactly what you are drinking.
An espresso is the heart of the coffee and is brewed 30 ml at a time. It consists of two percent coffee and 98% water. There are three parts in an espresso – the crema, the body and the heart. By the time it reaches your table, however, the light brown body will have already dissolved with the dark brown heart. “The crema is sweet and frothy, which gives an espresso a honey like aftertaste that you should watch out for. If you can get that honey like aftertaste, you know the espresso was properly brewed,” says Bhattarai. If you want to try an espresso but are too afraid of the strong taste, it isn’t unheard of to add flavors in it. Caramel is one flavor that works well with espresso shot to mellow it out a little and leave you with none of the bittersweet aftertaste. An espresso is called the heart of the coffee because all the other variations of coffee, no matter what their names, are built around it.
“Most people don’t know what to expect when they walk into a coffee shop. They check the menu and look disappointed before asking ‘Don’t you have black coffee?’” reveals Bhattarai. The drink that reaches the customer, disguised as ‘black coffee’, is the Americano. Americano, whether hot or cold, usually has double shot of espresso, which makes it 60 ml of espresso. Hot water helps to dilute the strong taste but it is still stronger than others because it doesn’t have milk to minimize the bitter taste of coffee. If you don’t want your Americano too strong, you can ask for a single shot of espresso when you place your order and the drink will be customized according to your request.
If you walk into a coffee shop asking for a milk coffee, you can be sure that what reaches your table is a latte instead. A latte has very little foam and is the coffee type that allows people to be creative. The foam is thick and creamy and can be manipulated into coffee art. A regular café latte has a single shot of espresso whereas a medium one has a double shot. In a latte, you get 25% foam and 75% steamed milk. If you like your coffee strong, be sure to ask for a double shot of espresso.
Cappuccinos are half milk and half foam. They are lighter to hold than any other cups of coffee and are stronger than most as well, due to the milk to espresso ratio.The cappuccino foam is not as creamy as the latte foam and therefore it isn’t an ideal drink in which to do coffee art. “But, most baristas do make atleast a heart or a paan design on cappuccinos,” says Bhattarai. Although they are usually made from single shot espresso, you can customize it to your liking. “We even have customers who want less than 30 ml of espresso in their coffee. Some have even asked for a triple shot of espresso. We do accommodate such requests,” says Bhattarai. Remember, a cappuccino isn’t a cappuccino unless you have a foam mustache after the first sip.
Moccha latte is a flavored latte. This adds another flavor to your coffee and masks the bitter taste of espresso. Most people who don’t like coffee prefer flavored lattes instead. The flavours include mocha and caramel, and the base of both is the same, only the flavors are different. In a typical glass of flavored latte, there is 30 ml of the desired flavor, milk with the 25% latte foam and 30 ml of espresso. Mocha latte and caramel latte are hot drinks and have the flavors drizzled over the top. Iced lattes, however, don’t have the flavors drizzled on top of the drink.
Frappé or frappuccino is an ice-based drink. Six to eight pieces of ice are blended with a 30 ml shot of espresso, flavored sauce, premix powder and sugar. This is blended until the ice has reached a slushie like consistency. “It doesn’t flow freely and sometimes you need to spoon it into the glass,” says Bhattarai. This is a very asthetically pleasing drink. The glass it’s served in is drizzled with the flavored sauce. The drink is topped off with whipped cream and more sauce is drizzled over it. This drink is often garnished with wafers and it is one of the more popular summer drinks. The taste of coffee is masked by the generous amount of flavors used. “Coffee lovers often frown upon this drink and say that only people who pretend they like coffee order this drink. But it still is a great drink,” he says.