If I have to pick the best city for coffee in the world, I’d do it without batting an eyelid. Bengaluru is not just India’s unofficial coffee capital but is my favourite coffee city in the world. A few days ago, I was at Maverick & Farmer in Ulsoor where I overheard Bengaluru’s coffee aficionados fight over their favourite type of coffee. A discussion that was prompted by Maverick & Farmer’s fail-proof Vietnamese-style coffee.
Not all diners at Maverick & Farmer or the city’s cafes know their coffee. We’ve all had those awkward moments when we’re at a hipster café and our coffee-snob friends are fighting over whether a Flat White or a Café Latte is the better version of coffee. On World Coffee Day, we round up some of the coffees that you’re likely to encounter at a café in your city. From the Flat white from down under to an Italian-style macchiato, we’ve got you covered!
Here’s A Quick Guide To All The Coffees We Find At Cafes Near Us:
This concentrated version of coffee may not be for everyone but is the foundation of most coffee drinks. It’s also the ultimate coffee for coffee aficionados who obsess over the crema or the foam that rests on top of a shot of espresso. An Espresso is brewed by forcing a small amount of boiling water under pressure through ground coffee beans. The pressurised brewing process ensures that Espressos are strong and concentrated. The crema lends a full flavour to the espresso and also reveals the skills of the barista.
2. Caffe Americano
An Espresso diluted with hot water; the strength that is similar to American Black coffee varies according to individual preferences but the flavour is different from the quintessential American black coffee.
This is one coffee Indians who frequent cafes are familiar with. An espresso is at the base which is topped with steamed milk and then finished with milk foam. It’s typically 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 foam. It’s common for baristas to leave their stamp or art on top of the foam or finish it with cinnamon or chocolate shavings. Find the recipe here.
4. Caffe Latte
This frothy coffee is crafted with a single shot of espresso and steamed milk. It’s probably the most popular coffee at coffee bars and chains after the Cappuccino and is different from a flat white in its strength and texture. In Italy the typical ratio is one part of Espresso with 2 parts of heated milk and a little foam.
5. Flat White
The Aussies and Kiwis have a lot to fight over including the origins of this coffee. In simple terms it’s smaller than a Latte, it consists of one-third espresso (double shot), two-thirds milk. The milk is steamed, not frothed, to leave a smooth and velvety crema on top. It’s these velvety textures and the strength of the coffee that have made me a Flat White for life. Find the complete recipe here.
Just like a Latte, the Flat White is also an espresso-based creamy drink, but contains a double shot of espresso and lesser milk than a Latte. The Flat white has less foam and more milk than a Cappuccino.
6. Caffe Lungo
You’re unlikely to find this version in too many cafes in India. Lungo is Italian for long and refers to short black espresso (single shot) with more water. A normal serving of espresso typically takes about 20 to 30 seconds to pull for a 25 to 60 ml serving. A lungo takes up to a minute for a 130 to 170 ml serving. It’s stronger than a Café Americano.
It’s almost like an anti-thesis of the lungo. Ristretto refers to restricted in Italian. This is a short shot of a highly concentrated espresso that uses the same amount of ground coffee but extracted with a finer grind using half the quantity of water. It’s a more concentrated shot with sweeter, richer flavour.
Macchiato means stained or spotted in Italian. This strong coffee is essentially an espresso with a ‘spot’ of milk foam. Makes the perfect night cap (if you can sleep after a strong shot of coffee) after a heavy dinner and dessert.
9. Cold Brew
It’s probably the coffee equivalent of a Stout beer. The Nitro brews at cafes come with the same foam at the top and textures as a Stout. You can make this at home by adding 8 parts of water to coarsely ground coffee and keeping the sealed jar/container away in the fridge for about 24 hours. Strain the coffee into a large bowl and repeat a couple of times to remove the coffee residue. Pour it over ice and serve and you could also add condensed milk or milk.
A constant at many coffee chains, the Frappe was first invented in Greece in the 1950s. The original recipe combined a popular brand of instant coffee with water and ice in a shaker. Now frappes are the modern coffee bar’s equivalent of a slush drink with a multitude of flavours and add-ons. Find the recipe here.
11. Drip-Style Coffee
Both the classic South Indian style coffee and Vietnamese coffee are examples of drip coffee where coffee percolates down a coffee filter or percolator. While the South Indian filter coffee combines this decoction with thick milk and sugar, the Vietnamese version is combined with condensed milk and can be served hot or cold with ice cubes added.
12. French Press Coffee
A standout example of Italian design (it’s called caffettiera a stanuffo) in Italian, this plunge style coffee maker is great for coarse coffee powder. Brewing time is usually four minutes. It’s become a favourite in Bengaluru among aficionados who like medium bodied coffees.
14. Pour Over/Chemex
This patented hourglass design (along with its unique brand of paper) brings out the citrus/acidic notes making the coffee easily palatable, smooth, can be made in larger portion.
I’ve encountered this drink during the warmer months in cafes in Italy. Shakerato translates to shaken up. It’s probably the coffee James Bond would order. Espresso is shaken with ice in a cocktail shaker and then poured into a Martinis-style glass or a taller glass. It’s not uncommon to add liqueurs (I’d suggest Baileys or Kahlua) for an interesting twist.