Different types of coffee in Australia: your guide to the perfect brew

In a world of innovation, there’s no surprise that technology has reached a level where anyone can enjoy barista-standard coffee in their own home.  Turning your own kitchen into a cafe (especially during mandatory lockdown from COVID-19), is half the fun of getting into the wonderful world of coffee. But sometimes the challenge is working out where to start and how to gear up your space with all the right essentials.

Thankfully, the variety is plentiful these days. There are budget options all the way up to affordable, yet professional, setups that can truly enhance your coffee experience. But before investing in a machine, it’s time to get to know your coffee so you can make the perfect brew.

What are the different kinds of coffee beans?

Arabica: This is the most common variant of bean and makes up 60 percent of all coffee production around the world. But while it is the most common, it also requires great care and certain conditions to grow correctly. These beans need to be cultivated in regions of high altitude with plenty of rainfall and need lots of care and attention as they are delicate and susceptible to disease. They have a softer, sweeter taste than other variants and this is a popular bean across the world.

Robusta: Unlike Arabica, this is a very hardy bean and will grow in many environments and fight off most diseases – which means it has a highly appropriate name. They are also packed full of caffeine (almost double the Arabica) which is what it uses to ward off diseases. It has a much stronger taste with a heavier body, a smooth texture and chocolate notes.

Liberica: This one is more of a historical footnote as it was used as a replacement for Arabica when coffee rust destroyed almost all of the world’s crop around 1890. It is rarely used today, but those who enjoy them say they have a bit of a smoky, full-bodied flavour that is truly unique.

Excelsa: Technically, this is part of the Liberica family, but it has very different characteristics. It is mostly used in blends to give it a bit more kick as it has a very tart and dark body to it.

We could literally list hundreds of different kinds of forms of this beverage here; it is amazing how versatile those little beans can be. But here are the main variants you will find in most cafes and that are commonly enjoyed by Australians:

Espresso: served by forcing pressurised boiling water through the ground beans.

Flat White: Espresso served with steamed milk and a thin layer of microfoam for a creamy but strong cuppa.

Café latte: Made with a single or double shot of espresso and topped with steamed milk and a silky foam layer.

Caffè Americano: An espresso that has been diluted with hot water to reduce the strength. This can also be referred to as a ‘long black’.

Frappe: For those with a sweet tooth, an espresso served cold over ice, milk, sugar syrup and topped with whipped cream.

Cappuccino: An Espresso served with steamed milk and a thick layer of milk foam. While flat whites have a thin layer of foam, cappuccinos are all about the foam.

Macchiato: Similar to a cappuccino but with greater strength as two shots of espresso are layered on a small amount of steamed milk and topped with milk foam.

Mocha: For those that like a chocolate hit with their brew, this is heaven. Basically a creamy latte served with a heap of chocolate powder or syrup.

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