Last Updated on November 5, 2023
We may have a herd of goats to thank for our most popular coffee drinks.
Sometime around 850 AD, an Ethiopian farmer was said to have been tending to his goats when he noticed they were jumping, running and acting with much more energy than usual.
Upon investigation, the farmer discovered tiny deep red berries the goats had been eating. These berries were confiscated by the monks as alleged “Devil Tricks.”
Whether this tale is true or not, these “devil tricks” were eventually discovered to be coffee beans, and have since then evolved into the beloved coffee we enjoy today. Luckily, these little red berries have taken the form of different crafted drinks throughout history. The following 16 beverages are among the most popular coffee drinks around the world:
- Café au lait
- Café mocha
- Cold brew
- Dirty coffee
- Flat white
- Iced coffee
- Long black
- Red eye
- Turkish coffee
And here are the most popular coffee drinks explained:
Americano is espresso and hot water made to be about the same strength and amount as a normal cup of drip coffee, but the process gives it a stronger, more intense flavor. It is made by diluting an espresso with boiling water. It is an Italian drink referred to as the “American Coffee,” hence its name.
The breve is an espresso-based drink with a strong coffee base, made with steamed half and half, producing a creamier end product than a traditional cappuccino.
Café au lait is a French coffee drink consisting of equal parts hot coffee and scalded milk. The traditional French café au lait is prepared and served in a bowl with a wider mouth to facilitate preparation and cool the drink down faster.
Also called a mochaccino, a café mocha differs from a latte because of one important twist: the addition of chocolate flavoring. The name comes from its city of origin, Mocha, Yemen. As a twist from the traditional mocha, a white mocha is said to be Miley Cyrus’s drink of choice.
Cappuccino is an espresso-based drink topped with steamed milk foam. This drink offers many variations such as cream instead of foamed milk, and common flavoring options including cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla and hazelnut.
As simple as it sounds, cold brew coffee is made by steeping ground beans in cold or room-temperature water to achieve temperate flavors and create a chemical profile different from that of traditionally brewed coffee.
Cold brew is different from an iced Americano. People sometimes get these drinks mixed up.
Cortado is an espresso-based coffee drink mixed with hot milk that is neither frothed nor scalded, to give it a milky finish without the thick, creamy texture that most other milk-based coffee drinks have.
The cortado is often mixed up with the piccolo latte, which is a similar but somewhat different espresso drink.
Dirty coffee arose out of Asia, although whether it began in Tokyo or South Korea remains the subject of debate. It involves pouring hot espresso over chilled milk. The contrast in temperatures results in a gradual “leaking” of the espresso down into the milk to produce a layered, marbled look.
Espresso, the common base for many coffee drinks, is made by pushing nearly boiling water through finely ground coffee beans at high pressure. This process results in much quicker extraction and a thicker consistency than normal brew. Variations include the long espresso or lungo, which doubles the amount of water and the duration of the extraction.
A flat white is an espresso-based drink with a milk and foam distribution that gives the feel of drinking thick espresso only, but milky and more drinkable.
Iced coffee is as simple as it sounds, but many baristas will use cold brew coffee and pour it into ice for a cold, refreshing coffee drink that blends well with flavors and infusions.
A classic latte—simply espresso and steamed milk with a dash of froth on top—is the base of many flavored coffee drinks. Its name is an English derivative of the term caffelatte which means “milk coffee.” The latte is easily one of the most popular coffee drinks. A caramel latte is reportedly superstar Taylor Swift’s go-to drink.
A long black is an Australian or New Zealand coffee drink where a double shot of espresso is poured over hot water to create a larger drink similar to an americano.
A macchiato is an Italian bold espresso drink made with a splash of steamed or frothed milk. The name macchiato means “stained” or “marked” in Italian, describing the look of the drink when splashed with milk.
Red eye coffee is brewed coffee topped with a shot of espresso. This drink packs a punch with 9.5 milligrams of caffeine per fluid ounce and is a Colombian specialty.
Turkish coffee is a unique brewing method using finely ground coffee beans the size and consistency of cocoa powder. These grounds are boiled with sugar and cardamom in a special pot. Once boiled, the powder remains suspended in the cup for serving.
Try a new coffee style
With all the options of coffee drinks, it’s easy to see why the goats were so excited about it! While most variations are simply techniques for blending espresso and cream or milk, becoming an impressive barista is certainly achievable with a little experimentation and flavoring.
With this guide to the most popular coffee drinks around the world, you can expand your coffee repertoire in no time.