Can you remember your first time visiting a Starbucks? Do you remember what you ordered?

My guess is either a tea, latte, iced coffee or a frappuccino. My first drink was a vanilla frappuccino. Yes, I was a teenie bopper who had to try the fad. When I was a teenager the only options in my head were black coffee from a can like my grandparents drank or a moo-latte from Dairy Queen.

Whether you are a coffee master who knows just the right amount of espresso in each drink or the pop drinker who has only stepped into a coffee shop a few times in life we all have stood in front of the menu for the first time thinking, “What the hell.”

The different variations of coffee can seem beyond our heads and not worth the effort to find out all the ways to consume coffee. The thing is you may find another way that you much prefer.

Example: As a teenager, I only drank the frappuccinos. Once I became an adult paying and working my way through college I found that I loved coffee but I had to find a cheaper way than the $5 frappuccinos. I asked the barista at Starbucks what the iced coffee version of a frappuccino was. She introduced me to an Iced Coffee with a splash of milk and vanilla. Which in later years led me to not needing as much caffeine (pregnancy). I again asked the current Starbucks barista and she introduced me to the glorious Iced Decaf Americano with cream and vanilla. Which is a much cheaper but stronger option at only $3.50.

So, let us learn the basics of the different variations that all come from the coffee bean.

Black Coffee

Coffee served as a beverage without creamer or milk. Wikipedia

Probably the most known way to drink coffee. There are several methods to use to make plain black coffee but today we are just talking about the variations of coffee.

Black coffee is made in the simple process of grinding beans, soaking them in hot water, and draining or dripping the now hot coffee from the ground beans.


Not eXpresso but eSpresso. Your lattes, cappuccinos, mixed drinks from coffee houses like peppermint mocha, americanos, macchiatos, and iced double shots are made with espresso.

Espresso is coffee brewed by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. Espresso is generally thicker than coffee brewed by other methods, has a higher concentration of suspended and dissolved solids, and has crema on top (a foam with a creamy consistency).[1]As a result of the pressurized brewing process, the flavors and chemicals in a typical cup of espresso are very concentrated. Wikipedia

Want to know more about espresso? Follow this link here to read the full Wikipedia article.

Iced Coffee vs. Cold Brew

Cold Brew is created by steeping medium-to-coarse ground coffee in room temperature water for an extended period of time (12+ hours) and then filtering out the grounds for a clean cup without sediment.  Unlike regular coffee, cold brew is never exposed to heat. Cold brew uses time, rather than heat to extract the coffee’s sugars, oils and caffeine. – Joyride Coffee

Iced Coffee is created like any regular hot coffee brew method.  It is simply hot coffee that has been cooled down so that it can be poured over ice.  (Something to think about: this means the iced coffee you are drinking today at a café may very well be the leftover coffee you drank hot yesterday). – Joyride Coffee

This is one of the best articles I have found on the difference between the two. I will say when they warn you about drinking iced coffee that it may be the leftover hot coffee from yesterday that is not at all true.

While I worked at Starbucks I learned that Starbucks has their own iced coffee grind that soaks in water and then chilled.

I am not entirely sure of the differences between the two but cold brew is much more coffee tasting. Whenever I have made iced coffees at home they are always watered down and taste more like sugared milk.

Cold brew is a concentrate meaning it is so strong that you can mix it with water or more milk and it will still be strong. The cold brew you buy in a bottle from the store you should be mixing with water or milk. If you are pouring a whole glass full of cold brew concentrate and then adding a touch of milk it will be way to strong and gross.

Sarah Betty is creator & owner of The TopKnot Life an online resource for the getting-stuff-done women who don't have the time or energy to research. She is the mother who does better research than the FBI.


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