Coffee And Cream
I love Coffee
Before I went backpacking around Australia in 1999 I had never drunk coffee. I was a proper English tea drinker. In fact, I thought coffee was gross. My experience of coffee was the powdered instant coffee that my parents made, and in the 90's coffee was nowhere near as big as it is now. In the UK, coffee shops did not take off until the early 21st century, and imagine my delight to discover that coffee could be so much tastier than a cup of British tea.
I write this lens as a homage to the beautiful coffee drink. I also want to know about the different types of coffee out there, primarily for my visits to coffee shops. When a list of 20 or more coffees come up on a menu it would be kinda nice to know what they all are.
So let's go take a seat, bring that hot cup of steaming coffee to our lips and inhale the beautiful aroma.
So What Started This Coffee Drinking Obsession? - Coffee Can Be Cold Too!
So, while travelling in Australia one day I was wandering along a street in Port Douglas. It was a warm day. I really wanted a pick-me-up, but I didn't want a soft drink. I took a seat on a pavement cafe and saw on the menu an Iced Latte. What was this? Cold coffee? What the beejeebers is that? it was also milky and had vanilla in it. So being the newly brave traveller, willing to risk anything for the new experience, I ordered my first ever coffee in a coffee shop.
Oh my! the liquid cool creaminess, combined with ice cubes and coffee, perked me right up! Not only was I cooled down, but my head cleared. The fog from the heat was gone and I was upbeat and all sparkly. This is coffee? Why had I not been introduced to it before?
So, I sat their watching the world go by. This pavement cafe, cup of coffee in my hand, felt so cultured, so grown up, so cool. I was in my early 20's and coffee drinking felt very adult to me and here I was grown up with my first Iced Latte.
And so this drinking obsession began....
Mocca And Whole Lot Of Chocolate
From Creamy Sweet to Chocolaty Treat
Now, as I hadn't been a coffee drinker ever, I needed to work my way up to stronger coffee. Straight coffee or expresso or black coffee just wasn't my thing in the beginning, so I started with what I knew best - chocolate!
The Caffe Mocha coffee is a delicious coffee and tends to have one third espresso, two thirds steamed milk, with sweet cocoa powder added: sometimes dark chocolate and sometimes milk: often with a lovely bit of frothy cream on the top, and of course many coffees I drink cannot be without chocolate sprinkles on the top.
This was my coffee of choice for a long time. It was my pick-me-up during stress-filled periods and my comfort drink when feeling a little low. If you like hot chocolate and don't know if you like coffee try a Mocha. It will be a good starting point.
I think if I were a woman I'd wear coffee as a perfume.
~John Van Druten
Coffee is the common man's gold, and like gold, it brings to every person the feeling of luxury and nobility.
Americano - Simple To The Point But Lovely!
Now it's amazing how the lovely coffee makers make coffee. I am learning so much about the coffee-making process. Apparently the Americano is made by having an expresso at the bottom of the cup and then adding hot water. If the expresso is added on top of the hot water it is called a Long Black. Now that is something I did not know. I don't think I have ever seen a Long Black on the menu in the UK, but maybe it will cross over the pond our way.
Also to those who drink Long Blacks instead of Americanos, what is the difference taste wise? My mind is boggled wondering how it could be different. Surely the mixing process in the cup would just make it the same ? Hmmmm?
Okay, so I got my explorer head on again. Apparently by putting the hot water on top of the expresso (ala Americano) destroys the crema. Okay so what is crema?
In its technical definition, "...crema is gas bubbles suspended in a liquid film that has high surface tension between the water molecules..." SweetMarias.com
In other words it is the foam that appears on top of a good expresso. Aha! So a Long Black makes it taste nicer? Maybe?
Oh my! So much to learn about coffee.
And there is more. In the whole Americano similiarity stakes there are Lungo and Ristretto drinks. Now I always wondered what these were on the menu. Let's take a little peek. I don't want to bog you (or me) down with too much detail because it becomes boring unless you are a barista or a major connoissuer, and I am neither. I will add this information in my expresso section.
There's nothing like a cup of coffee to stimulate the brain cells.
Expresso - Zippity Doo Da What A Wonderful Day! - Pick-Me-Up, Quick-Fix, Wake-Up Call
So you like your coffee strong?
Or you're tired and need a quick pick-me-up?
Or you're hungover and need to look perky?
Then maybe Expresso is the one for you.
Let's get down to the basics first.
Properly brewed espresso has three parts: the heart, the body, and the crema or schiuma, a reddish-brown foam on the surface of the espresso. The defining characteristics of espresso are: a thicker consistency than drip coffee, a higher amount of dissolved solids, and a serving size that is measured in 1 ounce shots.
Quote from : unknown
Expresso goes into most of the drinks I mention on this page but there are also different expressos.
Lungo : Lungo is an expresso made with an expresso machine. It's a double shot of expresso with lots more water. And all the water is brewed (forced through the coffee grounds). It is slightly shorter than an Americano or a Long Black. It is less strong and more bitter. I've just discovered that the more water that's passed through the coffee beans, the more bitter will be the expresso. Fascinating.
Ristretto: A Ristretto is a short shot of expresso. It is less bitter and fuller flavoured.
Personally, I have never had a straight Expresso. I am a bit wimpy about it as I can get energised on a good Cappuccino nevermind a straight Expresso, but some day I will try a good Expresso. Looking at the choices, probably a Ristretto, as I am not one for bitter coffee.
How do you like your Expresso?
Make Your Home Into A Cafe - Cafe Products Brought To Your Sofa
The Delightful Cappuccino
Well Known The World Over
Now the cappuchino is well known throughout the world. Even in certain parts of the Mediterranean, where if you were to ask for a coffee, you may get a very strong thick treacle-like substance, that many people may not be used to. However, most places do a Cappuccino.
Now the Cappuccino, if you are moving up the coffee stakes to a little stronger coffee, may be your cup of tea (or coffee of course).
The Cappuccino is an Italian coffee drink made with expresso, steamed milk and hot milk. The name Cappuccino originates from the word 'Capuchin', from the Capuchin Friars, due to the colour of their habits (garments). Now Cappuccino can be a great pick-me-up if you want the perkiness of the expresso but your digestion cannot cope with the rawness. The added milk makes it easier to digest and is more soothing to the stomach. Plus, wherever you are, in most places in the world a Cappuccino is easy to find and even if you don't speak the language, the word Cappuccino is generally understood.
Now upon investigating coffee, I discovered another type of Cappuccino; another I have not seen in the UK, called the
Cafe Breva. It is made with half-and-half (semi-skimmed) milk instead of full-fat whole milk. It is said to be creamier but to me I would imagine full fat milk would be creamier. Any barista out there, please correct me if I'm wrong, and help me understand why it would be creamier.
What I love about Cappuccinos in coffee shops is that they tend to always sprinkle chocolate on top and it has become an amazing artform nowadays. From chocolate bean shapes to triple hearts. Fabulous and aesthetically pleasing. Nice!
The Newly Popular Flat White - For When A Cappuccino Is Not SMOOTH enough
Okay, so I am a sucker for the Flat White. What I like about it is: if I go to a commercial coffee shop chain that can sometimes have bitter coffee and is not to my taste, I can have a Flat White and for some reason it completely transforms bad coffee. Wherever I go, the Flat White tends to be the same everywhere. Sometimes baristas can get a bit over zealous with expresso shots in other coffees, but I have no idea how most of those I have frequented get the Flat White just right.
Now what is a Flat White, you may ask? How does it differ from a Cappuccino?
Well I had to do some investigating here as many baristas seem to have different interpretations of the Flat White. Some believe it's just a Latte in a smaller cup, but many say it's all about the aeration process of the milk. Basically if I am interpreting what they say correctly, the Flat White has milk that is less aerated, producing smooth tasting milk, instead of froth as in the Cappuccino. It also allows for coffee art made with the milk and coffee combination. The Flat White can have more expresso, but to me it often tastes smoother.
It may be psychological but I often feel I am getting more coffee for my money with a Flat White than an Cappuccino, as I am eating froth for a half of my cup on most Cappuccinos I buy. Does this happen to anyone else?
So to summarise, slightly stronger, smoother, tastes a bit creamier and can look extra pretty with a lovely design on top.
How Do You Drink Yours?
My tastes change over time and I tend to vary my coffee drinking habits. At home I tend to have arabica coffee made in a cafetiere (cafetieres are ways of making a really nice coffee at home if you haven't the room for a coffee machine). I absolutely adore my coffee with double cream (I know we are not to have lots of stuff - not!), I don't care about the fat factor or calories; I love my coffee this way. It makes it smooth and creamy and overall perfect.
In addition, I started having an interesting combination when I needed a little treat. Try this at home if you like coffee and chocolate. I let a lovely piece of dark chocolate melt in my mouth and then I have sip of my coffee. Oh my! I made this up and it was a lovely surprise.
I love coffee shops. Absolutely love coffee shops. Why? Because they can often have lovely comfy seats, big windows, amazing coffee, nice service and chill-out, wind-down music. I love the ambience of coffee shops. Coffee shops make me feel privileged, abundant, just really really chilled. They often sell cake which is a big bonus. I love people-watching and coffee shops are the best places to do this. To read a newspaper or take a book, do some writing or simply sit with my coffee and gaze out of the window - my idea of bliss.
Depending on how I feel sometimes, I go for a Latte, sometimes a Cappuccino, sometimes an Americano, and when I really want to treat myself, a Caramel Macchiato. YUM YUM!
Caffe Lattes are the 'Dolce and Gabbana' of the coffee drink. The additional milk means we can be all grown up while having warm milk to satisfy the child within us. Lattes can be plain with milk and expresso, or milk with an expresso and any number of flavourings, ranging from vanilla to cinnamon to Christmas Lattes with nutmeg. Lattes, I would say, have boomed among the younger generation of cool hipsters who are drinking coffee at a much earlier age than me, but still want to hang out in coffee shops with all their young friends. Lattes give the coffee hit without the sometimes bitter taste. Easy to drink, they fill you up, and if you are hungry, can be a quick beverage to satisfy the appetite until lunch or dinner comes around.
You can get full-fat, skinny, half-fat - to be honest I have lost count of the number of different Lattes you can get. So below I have listed the more popular Lattes and those I am yet to try.
Biscuit Dipping Delight - You May Call Them Cookies or Crackers
Well after changing my drinking habits from tea to coffee I could not let go of my tea-drinking habit of biscuit dunking. What biscuits go with coffee? I was clueless for a while until I tried the delectable Biscotti biscuit.. A lovely almond biscuit, quite a long biscuit, almost impossible to eat without dunking, so obviously made for dunking. What a relief to find my biscuit dunking days were not over.
A little on the Biscotti biscuit in case, like me, you cannot stop your dunking addiction.
The Biscotti biscuit also known as Cantuccini originates from the Italian city of Prato. They are large biscuits made extra crunchy in the baking process.
Biscotti comes from the Italian word biscotus which basically means twice baked. Due to the crunchiness they are nearly always eaten alongside a beverage and dunked. In Italy they are traditionally served with 'Vin Santo' (Italian Dessert Wine).
(Cantuccini Image from Flickr: paPisc reproduced under creative commons licensing)
The Most Expensive Coffee In The World
I Would Not Drink This Even If You Paid Me To
So maybe you are a coffee connoisseur? Or simply you have more money than you can spend fast enough. But would you be tempted to try this coffee?
Kopi Luwak originates from Indonesia and it is made from coffee beans partially digested by a mammal and then excreted. So factually speaking you would be drinking coffee filtered from animal poo.
Yes, indeed. People actually buy this and claim the digestion process gives it flavour and a whole different taste. I am sure it does. You won't catch me trying this one anytime soon.
Taken From Wikipedia the price of Kopi Luwak coffee is:
"...selling for between US $100 and $600 per pound. The specialty Vietnamese weasel coffee, which is made by collecting coffee beans eaten by wild civets, is sold at $6600 per kilogram ($3000 per pound)..."
Now that is a whole lot of money for a coffee.
What about you? Tempted?
Note: I felt it appropriate to put a cup of coffee as a photo instead of poo droppings. I hope you appreciate that I want you to like coffee, not be put off by it (grin).
No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness
The Benefits & Potential Side Effects Of Drinking Coffee
As with everything in the world, you should drink coffee in moderation. Especially if you like your Expressos. While coffee drinking has more positives than it has negatives, we still need to be wise when partaking of this lovely beverage. Too much can cause health problems. Here is a little info on some of the benefits and potential side effects of drinking coffee.
Reported Benefits & Negatives from Inkling Magazine:
Are You A Commercial Coffee Shop Fan Or Is Going Local Your Preferred Coffee Shop Haunt?
We all have preferences, speed of service, decor, coffee taste, locality or simply supporting our local coffee shops. Let's see where and why we choose our places of coffee heaven.
Are you a commercial coffee shop fan or a do you prefer the local or non-commercial coffee shop when you are out and about?
What Is Your Favourite Coffee Drink?
With such a selection of coffees available nowadays I have listed as many as I can find for you to choose from. I am interested to see how this poll pans out. Have fun!
Which Of These Coffee Drinks Are Your Main Drink Of Choice?
The Health Benefits Of Coffee
A short video describing why coffee is good for you (in moderation).
If you love coffee, what is it about coffee that you love? Do you like coffee shops like I do? Or are you an at-home coffee drinker? If you don't like coffee have you tried only one type or ventured out and tried more and decided coffee is not your beverage of choice? If you haven't tried coffee before, are you tempted after reading this lens?