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Beginners guide to coffee

Do you know your Latte from your Lungo? Know your Cappuccino from your Cortado? Excited by Espressos? Here’s our guide to understanding the complexities of the humble cup of coffee.

range of coffee drinks in cups laid on a table
Origins of Coffee

The true origins of the first discovery of coffee are uncertain but have been surrounded by many myths and stories. However one fact is proven, the country of origin for coffee is Ethiopia. Through its popularity, by the 16th century coffee was to be cultivated and traded across the Arabian Peninsula. 

As many experience today, coffee was not simply to enjoy within the home but became a social activity. The first coffee houses were created as many gathered to drink and meet with friends, family and even business associates.
As with tea, coffee was brought to Europe through explorers and traders. By the mid-17th century, its popularity resulted in over 300 coffee houses in London alone and created what is now known as “penny universities”. The name was coined from the price of a cup (1p) with patrons predominantly from more learned professions such as merchants, shippers, brokers and artists.
Following centuries of trading and demand, businesses have expanded far from its beginnings. Coffee is now produced globally in warmer climes far outreaching its origins. The beans adopt different flavours and textures reflecting the country in which it is grown and recognised by enthusiast. 
Though coffee is grown in many countries, there are only two types of bean – Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is known for its milder, sweeter taste while Robusta is popular for those -  as the name suggests - seek a stronger, earthier flavour which is more powerful.

 Types of Coffee in different strengths in a circle on a table

Types of Coffee
When walking into most coffee shops, restaurants or anywhere that serves coffee, the likelihood that you will see a large menu with an array of coffee options is pretty high. We know it can be pretty daunting, particularly when all you’re used to is the standard instant coffee with milk. 

To help guide you, there are key types of coffee drinks you will likely find all starting from the key starting ingredient – Espresso. What varies for each type of drink is what is added to the espresso from milk, water or other delicious options.

Here’s a few to help you:
Espresso – created by forcing steam through ground coffee beans at high pressure. Each cup of espresso (also known as a shot) can vary in size but 30ml is the most common in most high street coffee shops.
Americano – also known as black coffee, it is simply a standard shot of espresso topped with extra hot water. The drink can be served black or milk (or dairy equivalent) to taste.
Flat White – served usually with one or two espresso shots topped with a ratio of like for like of milk and very little foam.
Macchiato – larger than flat white, is served with frothed milk but little/no foam topped with one or two espresso shots creating its more distinct flavour.
Cortado – one large espresso shot topped with the same volume of frothed milk with a small foam top
Cappuccino – double espresso shot topped with frothed milk with large foam top
Latte – two or more espresso shots depending on serving size topped with three times volume of milk to espresso
There are other variations that coffee shops and coffee specialists may offer and it is never wrong to ask for assistance. Baristas are always happy to help and may even be able to recommend something different for your usual order. Who knows, you may find your new favourite drink too!

Don’t forget many cafes and restaurants also offer a variety of options to meet your dietary requirements. Dairy alternatives including soya, almond, oat and coconut milk are available and can even further enhance the taste of your drink. 

Where to enjoy National Coffee Week at Bullring & Grand Central

With over 50 eateries, restaurants and food outlets, there are plenty of options from on to go treats to drink and dine. 

We are hosts to a variety of national and independant brands, so easily the perfect location for you to visit your favourite chain or independent coffee shop or restaurant for the perfect cup.

To see our full list of eateries and restaurants, click here to see the full list.

Cup of coffee with art design placed on coffee beans

Want to find out more about coffee?

For those looking to become more of an enthusiast (or some would like to call experts) on all things coffee for the home, you may be interested in Nespresso. For all qualifying registered customers, Nespresso Boutique located in Selfridges host regular masterclass events to introduce the full art of coffee. Discover the different fragrance notes of their various blends influence the taste. The team will also demonstrate how different blend flavours can be affected by what we eat when drinking too! 

A very exploratory, sensory experience, the masterclass is highly recommended for those who wish to understand more about what they eat and drink.  

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