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Your Guide to Popular Coffee Drinks in Cafes

In crafting this post, the intention is to provide you with valuable insights into the coffee beverages available in Kenyan cafes that you’re eager to try. Describing and sharing what you should anticipate from the drink, along with a fundamental preparation process.

Moreover, I’ll highlight origins, and the distinguishing characteristics of each that set it apart from other coffees or its closest counterpart.

Imagine yourself sitting in a coffee shop, staring at the menu for 5 minutes no blinking, you can’t contemplate which coffee to order. The names sound intriguingly exotic with each one promising a unique flavor. Kinda awkward right? Not anymore, since you are here!

Personally, whenever I come across an unfamiliar coffee,(especially if the name is cool and it is overpriced), my adventurous spirit compels me to go into the cave and explore it, after all, there’s only one way to find out. I prefer to embrace novelty as I don’t have a default go-to. 

It would be more iconic If you had a cup of coffee on your other hand whilst scrolling through this post. I mean, I wrote this with at least 3-cup refills by my side.

1. Drip Coffee

Drip Coffee
Drip Coffee

This is a mild coffee brewed by passing hot water over ground coffee beans allowing it to brew as it percolates down the filter. Coffee drip machines are fitted with a disposable filter where then ground coffee is added. The machines also have a water compartment and preset on the intensity of the coffee you would love.

Drip coffee can be prepared without the use of machines, following the same fundamental principle. Simply pour hot water over a funnel equipped with a filter and filled with ground coffee, allowing the resulting dripped coffee to flow down into your cup.

2. Espresso

Double Esspreso
Espresso Machine Brewing

Espresso is a concentrated, aromatic, and flavorful coffee served in shots. It is the foundation and base for a wide array of coffee drinks featured in this list including; Latte, Americano, Mocha, Flat White, Macchiato, and more.

Espresso is brewed by force-subjecting steaming hot water through finely-ground coffee in a high-pressure environment. The resulting brew is a highly concentrated and aromatic coffee that emerges with a layer of crema on top. 

Espresso shots are commonly served in single, double, or triple quantities. A single shot typically contains around 30ml of liquid, while a double comprises approximately 60ml, and a triple offers approximately 90ml.

Also, espresso is renowned for its high caffeine content, and selecting multiple shots increases the caffeine levels in the drink. A single shot generally contains between 30mg and 90mg of caffeine, while a double shot ranges from 60mg to 190mg, with the caffeine content increasing accordingly for triple shots and beyond.

Espresso was invented in Italy by a man who tried to brew coffee with pressured steam. The end result was a strong coffee and the procedure was quick. Note that the taste, intensity, and aroma of your coffee will vary depending on coffee bean type and freshness, grind type, espresso machine type, and overall barista skills for pulling a perfect espresso.

3. Americano

Americano | Java House

Americano is the choice for a mild coffee experience. It is the middle of; not-so-intense Espresso, and not so boring traditional drip coffee. The other aspect is it is the go-to for those who don’t want dairy in their coffee.

Americano is an Espresso based coffee, made by diluting it with hot water and ends up appearing like drip coffee. 

Dilution is mostly in 1/2 ratios of water and Espresso, it can also be made more mild by using 2/3 water and 1/3 Espresso volumes. 

Americano packs Espresso goodness like flavor and caffeine but on a scaled-down level and larger volume.

Americano is believed to have originated from the WW2 era by American troops stationed in Italy. They watered down the Espresso traditional in the region, in an attempt to recreate the drip coffee they were used to back at home.

4. Long Black

Similar to Americano but stronger in aroma and taste. Instead of adding water to Espresso, the reverse is done in this case; Espresso is added to water. Technically, the order of addition matters! 

Espresso addition to water will result in less dilution, this is why it is stronger than Americano despite using similar ratios. 

Long Black however retains more crema as nothing is added on top of the espresso to disperse it. Long Black originated from New Zealand and Australia regions.

5. Cappuccino


An Italian traditional coffee drink made by combing 1/3 of espresso, milk foam, and steamed milk. These layers combined form a visually appealing coffee drink not to mention the toppings to add more to the appeal.

Making cappuccino starts with Espresso on the bottom, steamed milk tops up to 2/3 full the cup and milk foam finishes the other 1/3. That is the basic layering. To finish off, cocoa powder or cinnamon is dusted and then decorated for elegance.

6. Latte


Latte is similar to cappuccino both made from espresso, steamed milk, and finished off with dairy foam. However unlike the 1:1:1 ratio of layers in cappuccino, here a slightly more milk ratio is used creating a mild coffee, but with the rich smoothness of milk. (1 part of Espresso with 2 parts of milk is ideal). The order of addition is still the same with espresso on the bottom, milk is next and foam topping it off. Beautiful designs can then be created on the surface of the drink just like in Cappuccinos.

7. Flat White

Flat White
Flat White

Flat White is the second coffee on the list originating from Australia & New Zealand continent. Made by combining double-shot espresso with microfoam milk. Microfoam milk is air-textured milk,(air is infused into steamed milk) to get that exact velvety creamy consistent texture. The texture compliments the roughness of espresso and creates a balanced flavored drink. 1/3 Espresso is used and 2/3 microfoam milk

Espresso is layered first then microfoam milk follows. Flat White is similar to Latte the difference being, for the Flat White microfoam milk is used instead of regular steamed milk. Microfoam milk aside, typically the espresso ratio is higher in Flat White. Also, a Flat White is similar in taste to a cappuccino it just doesn’t have the froth or the powdered garnishes.

Cappuccinos are frothy, Lattes are milky and Flat Whites are just the balance of the two. This is why Flat Whites exist; “a latte but for people who love coffee”

6. Cortado


Originating from Spain and Portugal, a Cortado is simply an espresso drink with equal parts of milk added to reduce the raw taste of espresso. It is in fact much stronger and less milky than a Flat White. A Cortado differs from a Latte in the sense that it has two Espresso shots while a Latte has one, also not to forget the lower milk ratio.

Cortados are served in slightly smaller glass cups, tho larger than Espresso cups. Normally served in late mornings and afternoons.

7. Macchiato


Machiatto( just like any good coffee on the list) is Italian. It translates to ‘stained’. And just like the entirety of the list, it is espresso-based. Made by milk in addition to espresso, the staining aspect comes from the white milk color to the dark color of espresso. In other words, the milk stains the espresso and provides creaminess without tampering with the espresso flavor. Can be made hot or Iced.

Machiatto is similar to Cortados the difference being milk used in Machiatto is formed while a Cortado it is steamed. Also, generally macchiattos have smaller milk amounts. macchiatos are basically espressos with a dash of foam on top Espresso Machiatto

8. Mocha


Mocha is a coffee that combines chocolate. Or as I would call it, coffee for sweet tooths. Made with hot chocolate powder, an espresso shot and both mixed before steaming milk is added. More chocolate powder on top then finished off with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and optionally whipped cream.

It has the bitterness of espresso and the sweetness of chocolate. For even better taste use shaved chocolate bar if you making it at home by yourself. Can be served cold as an Iced Mocha.

9. Cafe au lait

Cafe au lait
Cafe au lait

This is simply a coffee with hot milk drink. Unlike Latte, and the majority of the drinks which are Espresso with milk, Cafe au lait is brewed drip coffee with steamed milk. It is generally thinner with a strong coffee intensity. Milk and coffee are mixed in a 1:1 ratio just like in a Cortado. Despite the similarity they taste so different


The takeaway is, the world of coffee is so diverse, there is a perfect drink that just checks all the boxes for drinkers in terms of sweetness, milkiness, or just raw taste

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