What Are the Different Types of Coffee Available in the UK?
Many of my readers posed the question, "How many types of coffee are there?" That made me raise an eyebrow for sure. My instant reply was, "How long is a piece of string?" I honestly don't know how many types of coffee there are. I don't think anyone else does either.
This could refer to the beans, the drinks you can make and the many brewing methods available. Do you include iced coffee into the mix? When asked a question like this, it is often very hard to know where to start. Not one to shirk a challenge, I thought I should give this a go.
Different Types of Coffee Bean
All coffee comes from the humble coffee bean. So let's start with those. There are hundreds of varieties of those, grown from around the world. Each region grows a variety of beans, and in different areas such as Ethiopia, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. It takes a certain climate to be able to grow coffee beans. You can read a detailed article here about growing coffee beans.
What is more important to understand is that there are essentially two types of coffee bean grown. These are:
It is generally considered by the experts that Arabica is by a long way, the best type of coffee bean. It is what almost every maker of coffee uses. Robusta beans are grown in Central Africa, South East Asia, and Brazil. Coffee Arabica accounts for about 75% of the world's coffee supply.
The important thing to understand from this is that depending on exactly which area the bean is grown, will directly effect the flavour. The flavour is also then changed by the processing method, and also by the roasting method. I don't want to bore you too much with the details of these. You can click on any of the links to find out more if you wish.
The end result is a whole variety of coffee beans are produced, each with different flavours and different roasts. In one way or another, they all end up in a cup of some kind. So let's have a look at the different types of coffee drinks.
Different Types of Coffee Brewing
Just before we look at the many types of coffee drinks, these come from the way that the coffee is actually brewed. If you want full details on brewing methods then click here. For now though I will just tell you what those are. There are more than you may first think.
Coffee Brewing Type
This is now classed as a very old method of brewing coffee. Many people still prefer this method though, as it makes VERY strong coffee. The disadvantage of this is that the coffee can get boiled. That makes it very bitter to drink.
Electric Filter Coffee Maker
This is your standard run of the mill coffee machine. It is what hotels and restaurants used for years. This method floods coarse coffee beans with water to brew.
This is a very theatrical and dramatic way to brew your coffee. Many professionals use this method to create a bit of a show. It makes mild aromatic coffee
The Coffee Cone
This method is more popular in other countries and is not used that much in the UK. It does make pretty strong coffee though.
This method is gaining a lot of popularity in the UK. It simply uses pressure to make strong tasting coffee.
This still remains a favourite brewing method in the UK. This uses the plunger method to make coffee, and it makes strong and very tasty coffee. The grind of he coffee bean is very important as it needs to be coarse.
Bean to Cup Coffee Machines
There are many coffee makers on the market. These range from the simple pod style machines, and all the way through to the Bean to Cup machines. With these you can make a whole variety of coffee drinks, all based on the espresso
Mainly used in the USA but some use in the UK. It is often referred to as the "working man's coffee." It is strong and packed with flavour.
Put a spoon of coffee into a cup or mug, and add water. Many people love it and it is certainly convenient.
A popular brewing method in Europe and one of my own favourites. You make you espresso in this by boiling it on top of your stove. Very strong and packed with flavour.
So as you can see there are a number of different brewing methods, that make many different strengths and flavours of coffee. These are methods that can all be achieved at home. You can also try some of these methods if your local coffee shops offer them.
Types of Coffee Drinks
And now my friends, here comes the hard part. There are quite literally hundreds of coffee drinks that you can make or taste and try. All of them though come from the bean. Where the bean is grown, how they are dried, how they are processed and how they are roasted will determine the taste and flavour.
Some people like their coffee weak, some mellow, some strong and some like it to blow your head off. All of those tastes are cater for and more. When you start to add syrups etc to the mix, then a whole range of coffee drinks can be made. Let's have a closer look.
It has been around UK homes for years. It is made by brands such as Nescafe, Douwe Egberts, Carte Noire, Kenco, Maxwell House, Starbucks, Caramba, Lavazza, illy, CafeDirect, Rappor, Morrisons, Percol, Nuclear, Genghis and many other smaller brands.
These all taste different and come in many different types of roasts.
Caffeinated vs Decaffeinated Coffee
You can also buy many "Decaf" varieties of instant coffee. Just in case you don't fully understand the difference, caffeine stimulates your nervous system. According to any available research. it will help you feel more awake, alert and aids concentration. The actual impact however does vary from person to person.
Caffeine is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream but does not build up, so any effects are temporary. Many studies also suggest that too much caffeine, can cause high blood pressure. It will also increase the amount of urine and gastric acid. Many people will also know that drinking coffee before bedtime can affect your sleep.
People can get addicted to coffee and it is difficult to do without it. If you try to stop the habit, then common symptoms are headaches, anxiety, fatigue and depression.
With Decaf coffee a chemical process reduces or removes the caffeine. The coffee beans are emerged in water until they swell. The caffeine is then extracted using water and washed away. It is worth noting that even in "Decaf" there will always be small traces of caffeine.
People argue a lot over the taste difference. It varies for each person, so always worth a try.
Filter Coffee, Percolated Coffee, French Press and Drip Over Methods
The brewing methods are all slightly different, but in principle the beans are ground to a coarse grind. Water is then poured over the beans and allowed to brew. You then get some type of filtered coffee. Usually this is strong stuff, though it can vary quite a bit.
This is by far the most popular. The simple espresso is a shot of coffee that is made from a very fine grind of beans. In Europe it is very popular to have this served in a small cup. It is also the key foundation of other coffee drinks such as Americano, Cappuccino and Lattes.
By adding flavours to this you get the wide array of coffees that you find in places like Costa Coffee and Starbucks.