There’s More To Coffee Than Lattes and Cappuccinos

Irish Coffee is made with whiskey and cream. ShutterStock via Esquire

With tea, there’s a seemingly endless variety of both caffeinated and non-caffeinated options — there’s South African bush teas, Chinese green teas, English black teas. There’s white and chai, breakfast and sleepytime. And these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. For devout coffee drinkers, however, it often seems like there’s not much in the way of variety — the choice seemingly comes down to espresso or drip, and if you want a small, medium, or large. And, while good old fashioned black coffee is good all the time (except maybe before bed), it leaves out a world of innovation regarding the little black bean that powers the world.

With that in mind, here are a 7 variations on coffee, including a Southeast Asian take on Robusta (it’s not just for instant), a sweet option from the American South, and a super caffeinated espresso/drip mix. If you’re going to drink coffee every day, why not have fun with it?

Espresso Romano

Courtesy Sa-Ten Coffee, Austin Texas

Despite the really romantic sounding name, the Espresso Romano is a remarkably simple and unpretentious drink, if a bit off-putting to some. It’s unclear where the tradition originated, but the name has led many to credit the Italians (who also have the distinct honor of inventing espresso). All it is is a shot of espresso with a slice (or rind) of lemon.

Where to find it: Some specialty cafes probably serve it, otherwise the results are easily reproduced with a lemon and good espresso.

Red Eye



The Red Eye is perfect for the Monday morning after a hard-partying weekend, when a shower and the regular daily cup just isn’t cutting it. Or, perhaps you’ve put off your college final essay to the night before. Either way, the Red Eye will have you sorted out in no time.

Where to find it: Seeing as it’s a shot of espresso added to a regular cup of drip coffee, it can be easily made if you have both an espresso machine and a regular coffee machine. Otherwise, it’s available at Starbucks (even though it’s not listed on the menu).


Butter Coffee

Butter in coffee, image courtesy Desert Health News

The idea of putting butter in coffee may seem odd at first, but Bulletproof Coffee built their entire brand around it (such that butter coffee is usually referred to as bulletproof coffee). A lot of the science around the supposed benefits of it are not thoroughly researched, but it can be a tasty alternative for people looking for a richer take on coffee and milk. While it may seem like a new trend, coffee has been consumed with butter in regions as widespread as the Himalayas and Ethiopia.

Where to find it: Bulletproof locations, obviously, or if there are none near you (or you just don’t want to shell out for it), their website has a recipe. Or skip the hype and XCT oil  and just drop a dollop of your run of the mill butter in a hot cup of coffee.

Vietnamese Coffee 

Vietnamese coffee made using a phin, image courtesy

Vietnamese coffee is typically consumed iced, but hot varieties also exist. Vietnamese coffee is also born from a rich but complicated history. Coffee was introduced to Vietnam by France, a colonial power whose influence visibly persists today. Vietnam is one of the world’s largest exporters of coffee, which may be seem surprising given the region grows mostly Robusta, which is significantly less popular than Arabica.

Where to find it: Many Vietnamese restaurants offer Vietnamese coffee, and it can also be made at home with condensed milk and a drip filter (called a phin). It can also be brewed with Arabica, and there are recipes for people without the specialized filter.

New Orleans Coffee and Iced Coffee

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Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans, courtesy Travel and Leisure

Many great innovations stem from necessity, and New Orleans coffee is no different. During Union blockades of the South during the Civil War, people from New Orleans would cut their limited coffee supply with chicory. Chicory was cheap, and the impure mixture would help stretch out the life of the coffee supply. The blend is still sold at New Orleans institution Cafe du Monde and throughout the city.

Where to find it: Blue Bottle helped popularize an iced version of New Orleans Coffee, which involves making a coffee concentrate mixed with simple syrup, chicory, and milk. Their recipe can be found online. Pre-blended coffee and chicory is available in widely distributed cans of Cafe du Monde or from other companies.

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee, Shutterstock via Esquire

Unless you’re Keith Richards, an Irish coffee is probably not the best beverage first thing in the morning (it’s not good for Keith Richards either, but who can stop him?) The whiskey, coffee, and cream combination dates back to the World War II era, when Irish chef Joe Sheridan prepared the concoction for weary would-be travelers who were docked due to bad weather. When asked if they were being served Brazilian coffee, Sheridan retorted that it was, in fact, “Irish Coffee,” and a legendary drink was born.

Where to find it: The drink can be made at home with whiskey (Irish, to keep it authentic), strong coffee, brown sugar, and lightly whipped cream. There are many recipes online. Or, pop into your local Irish pub.


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Affogato, image courtesy of Starbucks

The word affogato means “drowned” in Italian, which is as foreboding a word as it gets. The concoction itself, however, is designed to please. The victim of the drowning in this case is a scoop of ice cream or gelato. A piping shot of espresso is poured over the ice cream, and the treat is consumed with a spoon. Once again, credit for this dessert is owed to Italy.

Where to find it: Seeing as it’s remarkably easy to make, it’s can be found at many restaurants or cafes. Otherwise, results can be reproduced with regular coffee at home (although espresso is the way to go).