Friday 10 February 2012

A Brief Guide to Coffee

I've posted about coffee a couple of times before. At the risk of making you all think I must have a caffeine addiction, I'm going to again.

The important basic kinds of coffee:

Instant coffee: this time last year I'd have said 'bog-standard, ordinary coffee'; I used to drink it every day in term time and only had anything else when I went home for the holidays. Now I possess a cafetiere, the definition has changed to 'swill that I only drink when I've run out of real coffee and the shops are shut and I'm really desperate.' It's funny how your tastebuds adapt.

Takeaway coffee: comes in a cardboard (occasionally plastic) cup from a shop/stall or vending machine. Invariably either takes the skin off your mouth or is no better than lukewarm. Usually either too strong, too weak, wrong amount of milk/sugar, or has gritty bits in. Good when you're out and about and need a hot drink or an energy boost.

(Traditional) Coffee shop coffee: comes in a selection of configurations, such as latte, cappuccino, mocha, espresso... There is usually an ordinary option, generally called 'coffee' or 'filter coffee'. Latte is yummy, but not significantly different in taste from ordinary coffee to justify the difference in price. Cappuccino has chocolate sprinkles. Mocha is combination coffee and hot chocolate. Espresso is discussed in detail below.

Real coffee (also, inspiration juice): coffee made by one of the people drinking it, from beans, usually in an electric filter machine or a cafetiere. Yummy; essential mind fuel.

Espresso: the vodka of coffees. Can be diluted in various ways to make different coffees, but is consumed neat by the foolhardy, the bravado'ed, or those concerned solely with intoxication. Hyperconcentrated caffeine: a tarry black liquid so foul and potent it can only be consumed in shots.

Iced coffee: a slightly rarer creature, it does what it says on the tin. Very refreshing in hot weather. If buying it, ask fr it without ice-cubes: it's cold enough anyway, and you get a lot more coffee in the glass.

And some more exotic kinds:

Civet coffee: made from beans eaten by civets and collected undigested from their faeces. I wish I was kidding, but like most things you can't believe, it's a delicacy. I have never tried it, and I hope to keep it that way.

(Modern) Coffee shop coffee: Approximately seventy thousand bewilderingly-named subspecies, more continually evolving. A true example contains a minimum of three ingredients besides coffee and acceptable additives (e.g. milk, sugar...). Also characterised by size, both of portion and price-tag.

Spice coffee: yummy winter treat, an invention of mine. Recipe here.

Slightly mocha: this is when the last thing you had in your mug was hot chocolate, and you couldn't be bothered to wash it up. Quite nice, actually.

Extra-strength brain juice: double-strength coffee. Make as usual but add double the amount of beans/instant coffee granules.

Ultra-strength brain juice: double strength coffee with 2-3 caffeine pills dissolved in it (best way is to put the tablets in the mug and put a tiny bit of boiling water on them, and stir until they dissolve, then make coffee as usual). Not suitable for children or the infirm. Use at your own risk.


  1. I'm one of those people who love the smell of coffee, but I just don't like the taste of it.

    (I tried following your blog via the Google Friends connect widget, but for some reason it didn't update. Not sure what happened.)

    1. Seems like it's worked now, anyway. Thanks for the follow and the comment; great to have you here. :D

  2. That's a misconception about espresso. Drop-for-drop it's got more caffeine than coffee--I used to work at Tim Hortons (Canadian coffee shop) and wouldn't go a shift without my double shot--but a lot of it is lost in the longer roasting time, so stick with your Ultra-strength!