A complete list of coffee

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Have you ever thought why there are hundreds of coffee drinks out there? If you are curious, let’s stay with us to explore the popular culture of coffee drinks.

First, we will elaborate a bit about the “espresso” because this name shall be the core of many drinks later. 

Afterwards, we list out the common names of coffee based on criteria: method, espresso-based (or Italian origin) and other variants.

Note: no matter how many different ways of naming your coffee cup, the essence of coffee relies on only 2 main types of beans: Arabica and Robusta.


Briefly speaking, Arabica is commonly considered higher quality with a bit sour, sweet flavor since its acidity is higher.

Robusta, on the other hands, is thought to be of inferior quality with harsher taste since it contains twice the amount as much caffeine as Arabica counterpart. But the truth is: things are more complicated than the common belief above.

That is another story and in this article we only look at the final drink to sip.

The everywhere "Epresso"

The espresso is frequently mentioned because it is a base of many coffee drinks all over the cafe-shops nowadays.

Different combination of water, milk (and milk derivatives), sugar, ice, and this magical ‘espresso’ will result in a number of distinct flavors and tastes.

Let’s look at the word “espresso”.

Its name tells us that it originated from Italy, and beware that there is no “expresso” since this Anglicized word is not considered standard by many dictionaries. This word has more meanings than you think and its other meanings are related to the drink we all are familiar, it can mean:

  1. Expressing (or squeezing) the flavor from the coffee beans;
  2. Speed, fast (as in express train), indicating the fast pace of life;
  3. Just-for-you, something exclusive made for you.

Interesting, right?

Espresso extracts the flavor from the ground beans, espresso accommodates the hectic modern life, and espresso is  expressly brewed for you!

Now let’s define espresso as in the beverage we sip everyday: Espresso is prepared with a pressurized brewing method, meaning the extreme hot water and the pressure will extract the soluble content of the ground coffee.


Usually one uses an espresso machine to “pull a shot” (literally you pull the lever when using the machine to brew). Due to this way of brewing, the espresso is usually thicker and richer in caffeine per unit volume than other brewed coffee by other methods.

The list of options

It may not be comprehensive yet, but we try our best to inform you the current pop culture of coffee.

According to the method of brewing

Espresso machine – Simply speaking, you brew your coffee with the espresso machine and you enjoy the resulting cup of “black gold”.  

French press – or in French “cafetière à piston”, the piston or plunger is used to press and separate the final drink from the ground coffee.  

Aeropress – also a piston-style method just like the French press. Its advantage over the French press is the versatility for user to try many different recipes. 

Percolator – This method makes use of a coffee percolator pot, mechanism of gravity. This pot facilitates the continuous cycle of boiling water seeping through coffee grounds in order to extract their flavor, hence the name “percolator” in the sense of “percolating – making water pass through”.  

Drip coffee/ Vietnamese drip coffee – The famous Ca phe sua da and other Vietnamese coffee drinks make use of the filter to brew the drip coffee. This filter is inspired since the French colonial era and the local version “phin” quickly becomes the morning habit. 

Turkish coffee - traditional coffee cup in the Middle East, it is brewed with very fine ground coffee beans and water to achieve maximum foam when boiled. 

Cold brew coffee - The method takes a longer time (24-36 hours) to brew the ground. Instead of hot water, we use cold water to slowly extract the wanted soluble materials from the ground.

According to the espresso-based cups

Espresso - the base unit for other coffee beverages.

Doppio - a double shot of espresso.

Cappuccino - espresso with hot milk and milk foam poured artistically.

Latte - espresso with steamed milk and milk foam, mostly similar to Cappuccino and different in the milk/espresso ratio: Latte is more milkier.

Flat white - espresso with steamed milk, just like Latte without the milk foam.

Macchiato - espresso with milk foam only, meaning: a stronger version of Cappuccino.

Americano - a shot of espresso with more water.

Irish coffee - double shot of espresso, whiskey and whipped cream.

Mocha - just like latte with additional chocolate syrup.

Other variants

Café au lait - or coffee with milk in English, it is served by combining brewed coffee with steamed milk. Some maintain that the brewed coffee should be made by the French press method to be authentic.

Egg coffee – The Vietnamese creatively replaced milk (which was scarce in the 1940s) with egg yolks. The concoction of yolks is whipped with condensed milk to become an airy delicious foam, afterwards the hot rich coffee is added, just imagine a tiramisu with coffee aroma!

Ca phe sua da/ Nau da - Vietnamese drip coffee and condensed milk, also served with lots of ice. Ca phe sua da is a southern Vietnam term, while Nau da is a northern one with a bit different in serving preparation, but all in all they are drip coffee with condensed milk.

It should be noted that the culture of coffee is continuously developing: there might be many new combinations and creative methods or ingredients, and even with the same name, different baristas may brew different tastes.

It is your curiosity that brings you to this page and your curiosity will go on the next journey of coffee exploration!