Coffee is one of the world’s most widely enjoyed beverages.
As a consumer product, we can trace the origins of coffee back to ancient times when it was cultivated for its health benefits first. After a while, humanity came to realize that there’s a lot more to coffee than a simple brewed bean-based drink – and today, we have hundreds of different coffee roasts, coffee companies, and ways to make coffee.
There are millions of people out there who can’t imagine the start of end of their day without a cup of coffee. Are you one of them?
The famous beverage is a lot of things at once. Versatile, delicious, and with more health benefits than most people would readily imagine.
If you’re just getting to know coffee, caffeine-based products, and the fine art of brewing better, congratulations. You’re going to like it here!
Even if you think that you know coffee and brewing it pretty well, keep reading. Just like wine, chocolate, or fine dining, there’s always more for you to learn and experience.
The versatility of coffee means you’ll never have the exact same cup twice. That’s what makes the art of coffee a lot of fun (once you get to know more than your average store or instant coffee).
What makes coffee great in general? What are the health benefits and drawbacks of coffee? What are some of the different ways to brew, consume, or enjoy coffee? Every coffee drinker out there has their own questions.
There’s also the most important question that all coffee drinkers will ask: How can you enjoy drinking coffee more?
Hint: By getting to know the drink even better!
Coffee can be enjoyed in many different ways. If you really enjoy your coffee (or know someone else who does), learning more about your coffee can enhance your experience a thousandfold.
Drinking, making, and roasting coffee can be rewarding and fun if you learn how to do it well.
Let’s talk about coffee.
It’s Not What You Think
Table of Contents
Every individual coffee drinker or brew enthusiast has a different idea of what can (or can’t) be called a great cup of coffee.
The first thing to realize about coffee is that there are different types, different brews, and different ways of putting these types and brews together. Each different way of producing what people generally refer to as “a coffee” will be a new kind of cup.
Coffee isn’t what you might think at the first paragraphs of this article. It’s a lot more than that!
Start by asking yourself what you imagine a great brew to be.
Again, there are many different types.
That right there isn’t even a full list!
Coffee can be a completely different brew depending on (1) the type of coffee, (2) the way it gets brewed, (3) additions like sugar or dairy. It might even come out a different cup depending on the person who was brewing it – and even factors like the type of water and the amount of heat can impact your cup.
How many other types of coffee can you name without having to look it up online?
If you think that you knew coffee well before, get ready for a whole new world of brews.
Coffee is fun, too.
Why Drink Coffee In The First Place
Coffee is the beginning, middle, and end to the day for a lot of people over the world. As a coffee enthusiast reading this article, it almost definitely describes you and/or someone you know.
If you take a closer look at the history of coffee, the habit of starting and ending the day with the coffee brewing ritual goes back thousands of years.
Why do people love coffee so much, and why can it feel difficult to start the day without at least one or two cups?
Coffee & Health
The answer is hidden in the etymology of the word itself. When traced back, the term is derived from the Dutch language – but going further back in time, the original term means wakefulness.
Coffee is known for its health benefits.
When coffee (or caffeine) is consumed, it’s known for improving circulation and bettering wakefulness.
We drink and enjoy coffee because it helps us to feel better, less tired, and a lot more alert. Further evidence about coffee consumption suggests that it could have long-term positive effects on conditions like high blood pressure.
We don’t just drink and enjoy coffee, but many people rely on it religiously for their health.
Speak To Your Doctor
Are you concerned that you might be drinking coffee to mask an underlying health issue? Speak to your doctor first. Coffee (and caffeine) is used to treat many health conditions. An intense need to drink coffee could indicate one of these present in your health.
It’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor about coffee, how much of it you should drink, and what positive (or negative) effects it could have on your health.
What Too Much Can Do
The caffeine that’s contained in most types of coffee is what people are after when they drink it. Caffeine is a mild stimulant, and responsible for most of the effects you’ll notice when having some.
Can you have too much coffee?
The short answer is yes.
The longer answer is more complicated, so keep reading!
Coffee is great. We can agree on that. But too much coffee is prone to make people nauseous, anxious, irritable, and it can trigger other adverse health effects.
For the average human, it might take 15 to 30 cups in a row to set off this effect. For people who show caffeine sensitivity, it might take only 2 or 3. It depends on how your body processes and absorbs it.
That’s different for everyone.
If you show any signs or symptoms of caffeine sensitivity, drink coffee less often, enjoy smaller servings, or switch to decaf. Caffeine sensitivity shouldn’t have to get in the way of your coffee enthusiasm!
What “Responsibly/Ethically Sourced” Coffee Means
The next time you’re in the stores (or online) and looking at the different types of coffee, take a closer look at the labeling, too.
Coffee often says “responsibly/ethically sourced” on the label. Sometimes, around the same place on the packaging, a reader might notice that their coffee speaks about its source, its origin country, or where it was cultivated.
When coffee has been “responsibly sourced” or is called an “ethical” brew, it refers to the basic economics of the brew.
Ethical coffee ensures that its farmers have been compensated for their part in the process. Coffee is paid for at its worth, and the longevity of your brew is guaranteed as a result.
For a cup of coffee to be a good one, it has got to be sustainable.
So, What’s A “Good” Coffee?
People have different opinions about what’s considered a good coffee versus a bad one. A lot of it has to do with their opinions and personal taste, but it might also have something to do with what type, strength, and brew of coffee they are most used to.
What’s your idea of a good coffee, or one that you would rather not drink?
List 3 things that you would put in the “good coffee” and “bad coffee” categories.
This is a great starting point for getting to know coffee better.
What you answer to this question gives you a standard idea of what you expect your cup to be.
From there, experiment and discover just how versatile the simple coffee can be.
Let’s move on to ways to enjoy drinking coffee more.
1. More About A Good Coffee
Any coffee enthusiast reading this can’t really get to know the art of making (or enjoying) a great brew without getting to know the origins of coffee as a whole first.
It’s not just “a coffee”, and it’s not your average type of drink.
The best coffees are brewed slowly, and enjoyed at your own pace.
Like a craft beer, you can’t chug it out of a keg and expect to really enjoy it. Pace yourself. Sip it, imagine it, breathe.
That’s a good coffee.
That’s the start of the enjoyment process. It’s where you start to realize that you can get more out of the drink than you might have thought before.
Once you’ve realized, you’ll never have “just another coffee” again in your life. Every single cup is an art on its own.
2. Around The World (With Different Cups)
When last did you look at the label that’s attached to your coffee? One of the initial things to notice is the fact that every type of coffee will have an origin – and the majority of good, responsibly grown brands will tell you what this origin is.
If you are ready to enjoy the average cup of coffee, find out where it comes from.
Some coffee beans are cultivated in Africa, while others track their origin to Cuba. With just a couple cups of your already-favorite drink, you could travel around the world and never drink the same cup twice.
Want to try something new?
Switch. Try a coffee from another place of origin.
Coffees from different parts of the world can be a whole new experience.
3. Explore Its Health Benefits
There’s a lot more to what makes a good cup of coffee than just adding water to a mug, and maybe throwing in some sugar and/or dairy.
Any coffee-lover will tell you that coffee is an integral part of their day (that they usually can’t go without).
Caffeine has a lot of health benefits to explore.
We drink coffee because it’s a damn great drink, but we also enjoy coffee because of these health benefits. Caffeine (and thus, the average cup of coffee) increases blood flow, betters memory capacity, and boosts general alertness.
When coffee is enjoyed responsibly, it can add to your health just like any other supplement or vitamin that you might take in the morning.
Research shows that caffeine can also reduce depression. More studies on the topic are still being done – but what we can say is that coffee makes us feel better, and that’s part of why we drink it.
If you have any specific concerns or questions about coffee, caffeine, and your health, speak to your doctor first. Believe it or not, your doctor can help you to enjoy your coffee more – and to the benefit of your overall health.
4. Experiment With Different Ways To Have It
Have you ever noticed how people in movies and TV shows walk into a bar and order “a beer”?
The bartender never asks about the brand, or about the type of beer. Unless it’s important to the plot, it doesn’t matter what kind of beer they’re serving up on screen.
The same happens when people order coffee in movies. People just have to say the words “coffee” or “latte”, and they get handed their beverage.
That wouldn’t work in real life!
There’s cappuccino, there’s espresso, there’s filtered, but there’s also powdered, instant, dried, decaf and a whole lot more.
Look at your average Coffee menu, and choose something different to what you would normally have!
Start enjoying your coffee more by getting to know the different types.
Having fun yet?
5. Invest In A Coffee Machine
Invest in a coffee machine if you are a coffee enthusiast who would like to start taking their brewing more seriously.
A machine-brewed coffee might not be for everyone, but it can give you access to a high-quality caffeinated brew in your own home or office (and you would normally have to pay restaurant prices for it).
Coffee machines are available in several types, depending on your needs and brewing budget.
- Percolators “drip” coffee through a filter, and they’re perfect for a slower, stronger brew.
- Machines using steam produce shots of espresso, which forms the base for other coffee types like the latte or cappuccino.
- Other coffee machines are industrial, and aimed at producing coffees in a hurry.
Do you really need a coffee machine in your home?
The answer might be yes!
Coffee machine have become affordable, and they are not complicated to use.
6. Experiment With Essence
Essence is usually available in the baking aisle, or from culinary/baking supply stores online.
The experienced coffee drinker learns what essence can do for their brew. It’s even a great trick to impress anyone you ever have to make a cup of coffee for!
If you’ve never tried adding any kind of essence to your coffee before now, you’re in for a fun experience – and it’s one of the cheapest, easiest ways to bring a taste change to your coffee.
There’s vanilla, caramel, mint, and about a thousand-and-one others to add to your collection of Essence.
Experimenting with the addition of essence to your coffee is the easiest (and cheapest) way to taste better coffee without having to buy a different brand.
7. Create Art With Coffee & Foam (Or Cream)
Art and coffee go together well.
Writers and artists everywhere might credit coffee for a boost in their creativity levels. Thanks to its health benefits, it can be confirmed that coffee can improve that creative spark.
But there’s more to it!
Coffee can also be used to create art – more specifically, art using foam.
When coffee gets topped with foam, there’s a lot of potential. Foam pouring is a technique which requires a very steady hand (and a little bit of regular practice), but it can turn every cup into a work of art.
Want to learn how to create flowers, hearts, or other images with foam and coffee pouring techniques?
Check out some tutorials on YouTube – and good luck!
If you don’t get it right at first, the fun part should be getting to drink them! It’s coffee, after all.
8. Add Sugar/Milk/Cream To Taste
The exact same cup of coffee can taste completely different depending on the addition of sugar or dairy.
It’s just two simple ingredients, but it can make just as much difference as adding essence to your cup (or choosing not to).
Some people will tell you that great coffee can only be made with sugar, or with milk. Others will insist that the best coffees are created without either – or both.
Personal preferences (and your health) have a lot to do with how you prefer your coffee.
Experiment with different combinations of dairy and sugar if you want to change the taste of what you’re drinking.
Different types of dairy and sugar can make some of the largest differences to your brew. Just like essence, there’s no need to change the brand or type of coffee to notice the difference it makes.
- Use different types of sugar (like white, brown, or molasses) to alter the level of sweetness to your cup of coffee.If you are diabetic or trying to cut down on your sugar content, try alternatives like stevia instead.
- Use different types of milk or dairy products (full fat milk, low fat milk, cream, or some types of butter) for a huge taste change in what your coffee is like. Some people prefer a darker result than others – and you’ll eventually find your most ideal mix.If you are lactose intolerant, there are many alternatives to dairy (including lactose-free milk types). Enjoy it!
Do you prefer to have your coffee with milk and sugar, or without?
Until you’ve tried it in different ways, you won’t know what you enjoy most.
9. It’s About Time
By now, you should know that small changes will make a huge difference to what your coffee tastes like (and how much you are enjoying it!).
Things like sugar, essence, or dairy changes almost everything about the aroma, the taste, and the body’s sensory response to a cup of coffee.
If you don’t believe this, all you have to do is drink what you consider a bad cup of coffee.
Now, do you see why it’s worth taking the time to brew something decent?
When it comes to coffee, time really matters.
Time makes a major difference to your coffee. Brew it longer, and you’ll have a stronger cup. Faster, and you will have different results – but too fast or slow, and it could be terrible.
It’s part of what makes coffee fun.
10. What’s Heat Got To Do With It?
Unless we’re talking about cold infusion techniques, brewing a cup of coffee requires the element of heat. Most types of coffee you’ll make in a lifetime will need hot water – although there are many online debates about just how hot water should be.
Heat has a lot to do with how your coffee cup comes out.
For brewing tea, most people would agree that boiling water is the most common method. To release what’s in the teabag, agitated (and boiling) water is best.
Different things are true for coffee.
If your water is too cold, you’ll only have suspended coffee particles (or granules) in icy water. They won’t be infused, and they’ll barely be mixed. All they’ll be is floating there. That’s not a good coffee. (Even iced coffee requires hot water first!)
If your water is too hot (which usually means boiling or near), then expect to scorch or burn your coffee beans (or granules). This gives a burnt taste to most brews – and once you’ve gotten used to the tastes behind different varieties of coffee,
The best water for coffee is letting it reach boiling point, and then cooling down a little.
Try making your coffee too hot, and too cold so that you can taste the difference. Then, make it just right.
That’s a huge difference. But it’s only possibly to explain to people what it’s like once they’ve been able to taste it.
11. Try Iced Brews, Too
If you’re used to drinking your preferred caffeinated beverage in a warm state (with sugar, cream, essence, or marshmallows completely optional), get ready to experience a whole new drink when you cool it down.
Iced coffee can be purchased in a ready-made state, ordered at restaurants, or made at home with some time and practice.
It’s great, and it’s a completely different (and new!) way to enjoy your brew as a coffee-lover.
12. Take A Course (In Coffee)
People feel a varying degree of passion associated with their coffee. Some readers love it enough to drink it every day – but some might enjoy taking their love of coffee even further than this.
Do you really love coffee – and a lot more than the average person?
Take a course.
Professional training in how to make a good cup of coffee might be where your passion lies.
If you believe that a bad coffee is as good as sin, try this! Get to know the career of professional coffee-making.
At the end of a basic course, you’ll know a lot more about the various intricacies that make a proper professional cup.
13. Coffee (With Cookies & Desserts)
Pairing coffee with desserts, cookies, or pastries can only enhance the experience that goes with it.
It’s not uncommon for many people to prefer less sugar in their cup, but to replace this sugar with their favorite cookie. The sugar content in the paired cookie or dessert is enough to balance out the taste – and usually, it’s unlike anything else.
Cookies and desserts are great by themselves, and most people can agree on this.
Don’t you think they could be even better when added to your daily coffee?
It’s a great way to experience a new taste every day.
14. Bake (But With Coffee)
Coffee is a great pairing with cookies and desserts, but have you ever thought about combining them during an earlier part of the process? Instead of serving already-baked things with coffee, coffee can be used as an ingredient.
Baking with coffee is easier than you could imagine, Make your coffee as desired – usually stronger and black, so it’s concentrated for use – and add to what you were already baking.
Coffee makes a great accompanying ingredient to icing, glaze, batter, or most other things that you can mix it into.
Have you tried to bake, but with coffee?
Now might be a great time to start.
15. Bring Coffee Into The Kitchen
If you have access to good coffee, time, and a bit of creativity then your coffee enjoyment experience has only started. There’s still a lot of things you can do with coffee from here!
Coffee isn’t just meant for desserts or baking. There are a thousand-and-one ways to introduce coffee into the kitchen in other ways – including a dash into stews as a flavor enhancer, or into sauces for the same reason.
Have you thought of bringing coffee into the kitchen for cooking instead of baking?
Many coffee lovers will go their entire lives without realizing they can.
Check the internet first for potential recipes that can include coffee. From there, turn your own kitchen into an experiment and see which of your favorite things coffee can make better.
You might find a few things coffee doesn’t mix with well, but that’s why you get to try again.
16. Get To Know Roasting
A good coffee could be referred to as art, or you could call it science. Even a non-expert can tell you when they have had a cup they didn’t like – and brewing it isn’t the only thing that can make a cup of coffee great (or not).
Coffee is also about the roast.
Just like cocoa, coffee grows in the form of a bean first. This bean is processed, and then roasted to provide coffee beans.
From there, any number of products can be created from the beans, including powdered coffee.
Once you know how to brew, explore the intricacies associated with roasting. Raw coffee beans can be roasted at home, and it’s a whole new way to gain an appreciation for what ends up in your cup.
Do you prefer them dark roasted, or light?
How can you tell until you’ve tried out both?
17. Take The Coffee Plunge
There are plenty of coffee-drinkers who don’t subscribe to the rise of the coffee machines, but instead prefer to have their coffee made by older, more hands-on methods.
The coffee plunger is one of the easiest, oldest ways to come up with a full-bodied brew that’s quick (but not instant).
Most coffee enthusiasts should have at least one plunger around the house.
Even if you prefer other ways of drinking your coffee, it’s great to enjoy a plunger-made coffee once in a while.
18. Explore Instant Coffees
Don’t knock instant coffees before you have experienced the full scope of what they have to offer. There used to be a strong argument that instant coffees isn’t as good as real coffee – but sometimes, that’s just not true.
Remember: An “instant” beverage can refer to freeze-dried and powdered coffee beans, which can be just as good as slowly brewed coffee (if made right!).
19. The Bean… As A Snack
Coffee beans aren’t just meant to be roasted and enjoyed as a drink, but can also become a snack.
Even though most people are surprised when they hear about it for the first time, it is not uncommon to spot coffee beans covered in coffee (or even icing sugar).
If you would like to learn the art of more advanced coffee bean roasting and what you can do with them from there, consider the coffee bean enjoyed as a snack.
If you were wondering, you’ll get the same wakeful effect from your average coffee bean snack as from your average coffee.
Enjoyment is the point of the coffee bean in all its forms.
How do you prefer yours?