From Brooklyn to Portland and everywhere in between, there’s no shortage of incredibly hip coffee shops that can deliver your morning pick me up. But, if you’re new on the scene, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of different coffee drinks you can order.
The Most Popular Drinks at Hipster Coffee Shops Around the World
So, what are the cool kids drinking? We’ve put together an exhaustive guide of the top coffee drinks that hipsters can’t seem to put down. From a short black to a flat white, you’ll be an expert when it comes to hipster coffee shops after reading this article.
The Old Standby: A Regular Cup of Coffee
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. While it’s far from the most artisanal or grandiose beverage on our list, you can never go wrong with a regular coffee. Of course, any hipster coffee shop worth its weight in beans isn’t just providing any old cup of coffee, you can expect a delicious roast from the finest beans available.
Speaking of roasting, the amount of time the beans spend in the roaster will have a profound effect on the flavor and acidity of the coffee. Coffee roasts usually fall into three categories: mild, medium, and bold.
If you prefer a lighter tasting cup of coffee, you’ll do best with a mild or blonde roast. Most of the world prefer a medium roast coffee that offers a bit more body and acidity than a mild roast but isn’t quite as dark and bitter as a bold roast.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for the rich, bitter, and acidic flavor that hipsters are after when they drink coffee, you’ll be best served with a bold roast, like an Italian, French, or New York-style brew.
Some shops, like New York City’s famed Blue Bottle Coffee, are famous for their pour-over brews, which coffee snobs argue is the truest way to enjoy a cup of coffee. The beans are ground fresh to order, loaded into a coffee dripper, and then hot water is poured over the grinds, allowing the coffee to run into your cup below.
Whether your cup of coffee comes from a drip brewer, a carafe, or a pour-over system like Blue Bottle, you can’t go wrong with a tried-and-true regular cup of coffee. Just make sure you forgo any fancy syrups and flavorings. True hipsters like they’re coffee black, or close to it.
Coffee’s Slightly More Aggressive Cousin: The Americano
If you’re looking for a classic and unfussy coffee drink, but you’re looking for a bit more of a kick than a regular cup of coffee, the Americano may be perfect for you.
An Americano starts with a cup of hot water, which is then placed underneath the espresso machine, where one or more shots of espresso are brewed on top. It looks and tastes quite similar to a regular cup of coffee, but with a bit more of the characteristic elements of bitterness and sweetness associated with espresso.
Everything You Need to Know About Espresso Shots
Whether you love the taste, or you’re just looking to go from zero to sixty as close as possible, an espresso shot is a great choice. When it comes to espresso, there are several different preparations you should be aware of.
The classic single shot of espresso, also called a short black, is just what it sounds like: a single shot of espresso in an espresso cup. Sometimes, your shot is served with a twist of lemon, which adds a unique citrus dynamic to the bold flavor of the coffee.
If you’re looking for an extra punch, ask the barista for a doppio, which is two shots of espresso served in an espresso cup.
While many people find the taste of espresso to be too aggressive and bitter to enjoy, the most discerning hipsters are often looking for a drink that’s even more bitter and concentrated. If that sounds like something you’d be into, order a ristretto.
A ristretto is made by using the same amount of coffee you’d use to brew a shot of espresso, but using only half the usual amount of water. The result is an especially concentrated and bitter drink that may be a bit too abrasive if this is your first trip to the hipster coffee shop.
If you’re looking for an after-dinner pick-me-up that will also scratch your itch for dessert, consider ordering an affogato, which is a shot of espresso brewed over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Espresso’s Less Abrasive Cousin, the Macchiato
A macchiato is a wildly popular espresso drink that you’ll find served in hip coffee shops from Italy to Seattle and everywhere in between. With a Macchiato, the bitterness of the espresso is toned down with a bit of steamed milk.
This drink starts with a shot of espresso, followed by a big dollop of steamed milk and foam. The addition of the milk and foam helps to tone down the bitterness of the espresso, without compromising its bold flavor.
What we’ve described above is considered a short macchiato. If you’re looking for a bit more of a jolt, ask for a long macchiato, which adds a second shot of espresso into the mix.
The Classic Cafe Latte
A drink that everyone is familiar with, the cafe latte is an excellent choice for your morning brew, or for an occasional treat. A latte is one of the more sweet and decadent coffee drinks you’ll find on the menu at a hip coffee shop.
A latte starts as most other coffee drinks do, with a shot or two of espresso. Next, your barista will add steamed milk to just below the rim of the cup and top it with a dollop of microfoam from the steamed milk.
Depending on where you are, the glassware you can expect can be dramatically different. Here in the United States, we typically take our lattes in a coffee mug or a to-go cup. Meanwhile, in Europe, it’s more common to receive your drink in a short glass tumbler.
If you’re in a particularly hip coffee shop, you can expect your barista to elevate your drink even further with some carefully created latte art.
Coffee’s Most Misunderstood Beverage: The Cappuccino
Few beverages in the coffee world are as delicious, captivating, or misunderstood as the humble cappuccino. Ironically, it’s one of the simplest and easiest to make coffee beverages on our list.
A proper cappuccino consists of a shot of espresso, followed by a small amount of steamed milk. The rest of the glass is layered to the top with microfoam from the steamed milk. The final product can then be topped with cinnamon or chocolate powder, or some artwork from your barista.
Novice coffee drinkers who have never had a proper cappuccino before are often taken aback by the ratio of foam to liquid in the drink. Roughly half the cup is occupied by milk foam, which may be disappointing if you were expecting a full cup of coffee.
National brands like 7-11 or Dunkin’ have drawn the ire of the coffee community in the past by offering frozen or iced variants of this classic beverage. This is a misnomer, since the one component that separates a cappuccino from other drinks (the foam) cannot be frozen, or served over ice.
So, if you ever see a place offering iced cappuccinos or frozen ones, you might want to head out the door and find a coffee shop that won’t be quite as offensive to your hipster sensibilities.
A Latte and a Cappuccino Walk Into a Bar…
The next classic hipster coffee beverage on our list is the flat white. This drink was popularized by coffee shops in Australia and New Zealand, and it exists at the intersection of the cappuccino and latte.
A flat white is made by taking a shot or two of espresso, then adding steamed milk to the top of the cup. What separates this drink from either of the aforementioned relatives is that it doesn’t include any microfoam on top.
The Cafe Mocha – The Latte’s Sweeter Cousin
For latte and cappuccino drinkers who are hoping to add a decadent and sweet kick to their classic go-to beverage, a mocha or a white mocha, could be right up your alley.
This drink starts just like a cappuccino or latte does, but the barista will add a few pumps of chocolate or white chocolate syrup or chocolate powder to the bottom of the cup before they start making the drink. The result is a decidedly chocolatey version of the classic latte or cappuccino.
Depending on your preference, your barista will add a little foam, a lot of foam, or skip the foam altogether in favor of whipped cream.
Stepping into your first hipster coffee shop can seem like a harrowing experience at first. But, the truth is, the hip coffee shop in your neighborhood is more approachable than you may think, and the baristas are quick to offer some help, or a recommendation to help you find the perfect drink.
Whether you choose one of the classic hipster-approved drinks on our list, or you opt for something else altogether, you should be well on your way to enjoying a delicious coffee.