August 03, 2018

7 Key Coffee Questions You’re Too Afraid to Ask in a Coffee Shop

You love coffee, but there’s that nagging question you feel silly asking…

Coffee shops can be intimidating places, and even the most devoted coffee drinker could be forgiven for feeling a little confused at some of the barista speak! Let’s look at some of the key coffee questions you’ve always been too afraid to ask.

How should I store my coffee?

Some specialist coffee houses also sell unique blends of some of their best offerings…

CUPBOARD

FRIDGE

The temperature your coffee is stored in has a dramatic effect on its taste and enduring quality. Simply put, the warmer it is, the shorter the shelf life of ground coffee. Ideally, store at room temperature. If you opt for the cupboard, ensure it’s away from sources of heat and invest in a handy tub to keep the coffee fresh.

This is can be controversial: Generally, there’s nothing wrong with storing your ground coffee in the fridge, but you’ll want to give it time to reach room temperature before use. Allow for a little while to acclimatise for a rich and flavourful cup! For fresh coffee beans, however, these are always best stored sealed in the original bag at room temperature.

As a rule of thumb, the closer the coffee is to room temperature, the better.

Is caffeine a drug?

Caffeine is classed as a drug, yes. Like any other drug, if consumed in vast quantities over a small period, it can be harmful. It is, however, safe to consume – just try not to have ten espressos within an hour, and you’ll be fine. Reasonable consumption of coffee and caffeinated drinks can help boost productivity, concentration and alertness – so you have nothing to fear from your love of coffee!

What’s the difference between a latte and a flat white?

Both are coffee shop staples, but understanding what each of them is can be a little tricky…

LATTE

FLAT WHITE

Lattes are in many ways simply a trendy way of saying ‘flat white’. Around twenty years ago, it became fashionable within a coffee culture to ask for a latte rather than a flat white, and lattes could be served in a cup or glass – depending on preference – in particularly trendsetting establishments.

A flat white is simply a coffee with a foamy layer at the top. Some argue that lattes contain a little more foam, and data on coffee shop trends also suggest that flat white coffee is often served in a larger container than its latte counterpart. This can affect the perceived strength of your coffee, too.

Small nuances form the only real differences between these two popular coffee types.

Can I buy decaffeinated coffee beans?

Absolutely! Coffee beans can be decaffeinated in a process referred to as decaffeination. Simply put, it involves soaking the coffee beans in water, which helps to dissolve all traces of caffeine. Decaf coffee still keeps its taste, so can be a great option for those who would rather avoid the caffeine ‘high’.

Does it matter which milk I use?

The quantity of milk is often discussed when making a coffee…but rarely the type of milk itself…

YES

NO

The milk you choose will certainly contribute to the flavour of your coffee, just as readily as eschewing milk altogether. Powdered milk might be convenient, but it’s not going to add the same richness as full-cream fresh varieties. Coffee houses take this point quite seriously.

Important though it is, the type of milk you choose is hardly life or death. In the average cup of coffee, it will affect the taste but is unlikely to ruin it altogether. Trust your barista to know what they’re doing. More important when making the 'perfect froth' is the milk temperature and how good the Barista is.

Experiment with different flavour profiles until you find the perfect milk for your perfect coffee.

What’s the difference between a cappuccino and a caffé latte?

How to differentiate between two coffee shop favourites…

CAPPUCCINO

CAFFE LATTE

Cappuccino is identified by having lots of foam at the top, as well as a drier flavour than a caffe latte. In general, a cappuccino also has far less steamed milk.

Caffe lattes have minimal foam on the top, in contrast to the layers found on a cappuccino. The creamy flavour is also distinctive, and this variety of coffee uses plenty of steamed milk.

Cappuccino uses frothy milk foam for its top layer, while caffe latte uses plenty of steamed milk.

What is a ‘light roast’ and a ‘dark roast’?

Coffee shop lingo can be cryptic! (This applies equally to when you shop online for speciality coffee brands and coffee bean gifts).

LIGHT ROAST

DARK ROAST

Choosing the right coffee beans is half the struggle with perfecting the art of the perfect coffee. Lightly roasted beans are noted for their light, sweet, floral flavours.

Dark roasted coffee beans aren’t always stronger than their lighter counterparts, but the taste is markedly different. Expect a bittersweet flavour.

Dark roasted beans are roasted to a higher temperature and for a longer time.


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