Become Your Own Barista With These Specialty Coffee Recipes

best coffee recipes

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For many of us, the difference between the cup of coffee we brew at home and the speciality drink we order from a barista is profound. The reason? Coffee professionals know the perfect grounds-to-water ratio, milk temperature, and foam volume to deliver you that special experience every time. Even if you have one of the best coffee makers on the market and some great coffee beans at your disposal, your morning brew is limited by your other tools (including coffee grinders and espresso machines) and your knowledge of those recipes.

But learning to make your ideal coffee shop cup is within reach. To help you become your own barista, we’ve rounded up the best specialty coffee recipes, from the perfect cup to cold brew and to lattes, along with the tools you need to achieve them. We also spoke to Dan Pabst, coffee expert and new product development manager at Melitta, for his insights into home brewing. Once you master your ingredients and preferred brew method, these recipes will guide you to coffee perfection:

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2 French Press

The French press is a simple, elegant, and easy-to-use tool for making a delicious cup of coffee. It works by soaking ground coffee directly in hot water, which you then separate using a plunger.

Pro tip: It also makes many multiple servings per brew, depending on the size of the carafe.

Get the recipe for French Press Coffee from Illy »

3 Iced Coffee

A summertime favorite for many, iced coffee is very versatile and highly adaptable. It can be served over ice or on its own, and can be adapted with different types of milk and sweeteners.

Pro tip: For the most robust flavor, Pabst recommends using the flash-brew method, which involves using a pour-over maker to brew directly over ice and lock in all the great flavors of the coffee.

Get the recipe for Iced Coffee from Drink Trade »

4 Cold Brew

Like the name suggests, cold brew coffee is prepared without heat. Unlike traditional iced coffee which involves chilling hot coffee, cold brew entails soaking beans in water over a period of many hours, reducing acidity and bitterness and strengthening the caffeine content of the brew.

Pro tip: You can use a special cold brew maker to make your coffee, or use a jar or French press to soak and strain your beans.

Get the recipe for Cold Brew from Delish »

5 Cappuccino

Small but mighty, the cappuccino is a classic Italian hot coffee drink that is usually 6 ounces in volume and made of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Enjoy it with a flaky pastry or alone for a classic breakfast.

Pro tip: A note from Pabst: Focus on creating high-quality milk foam, and the natural separation of the milk will leave you with that roughly equal ratio.

Get the recipe for Cappuccinos from Delish »

6 Latte

This popular Italian standby is usually 10-12 ounces in volume and is made of one part espresso to two parts steamed milk with a thin layer of milk foam.

Pro tip: The latte can be adapted with different flavored syrups, including vanilla, mocha, and of course, pumpkin spice.

Get our Latte recipe from the GH Test Kitchen »

7 Flat White

This espresso drink from Australia (or New Zealand, depending on who you ask) is very creamy in consistency thanks to how the microfoam is blended into the espresso. Although measurements vary, a typical flat white consists of a double shot of espresso with about 4 ounces of milk and little to no foam, making it smaller than a latte.

Pro tip: Flat whites are great for those who like lattes but don’t want as much milk.

Get the recipe for Flat White from Roasty Coffee »

8 Café au Lait

Similar to the latte, the café au lait is a classic French drink that pairs equal parts strong hot coffee and steamed milk. Unlike its Italian counterpart, it’s made without espresso and typically with minimal or no foam topping.

Pro tip: We recommend using a moka pot to make a strong brew.

Get the recipe for Café Au Lait from Melitta »

9 Cortado

Cortado comes from the Spanish word meaning “to cut,” and this small drink uses warm milk to “cut” the bitterness and acidity of espresso. Like the café au lait, the cortado is made of equal parts coffee and milk, although it’s both smaller and stronger thanks to the short size of the espresso.

Pro tip: Also known as the Gibraltar because of its glass, this is Pabst’s favorite specialty drink to order at coffee shops.

Get the recipe for Cortado from Roasty Coffee »

10 Macchiato

This small Italian drink is designed to be consumed in the afternoon, a counterpoint to the morning cappuccino. The name roughly translates to “marked” or “stained,” which refers to the dollop of milk foam right in the center of the beverage.

Pro tip: This is the most espresso-forward of the Italian coffee drinks topped with milk.

Get the recipe for Macchiato from Illy »

11 Americano

Although the history is debated, the cafe Americano is so called because it’s how American GIs would order their espresso from Italian cafes during WWII—a shot of espresso with water added to mimic drip coffee.

Pro tip: There are no hard rules about preparing this drink, but the strongest version is simply equal parts espresso and hot water.

Get the recipe for Americano from Illy »

12 Irish Coffee

A popular coffee cocktail for brunch, dessert and more, Irish coffee balances hot coffee with Irish whiskey and lightly whipped cream.

Pro tip: Use brown sugar instead of white granulated sugar for a sweeter, more caramelized flavor.

Get the recipe for Irish Coffee from Melitta »

13 Dalgona Coffee

This whipped, playful coffee (believed to be from South Korea, although its precise origins are unclear) has recently been popularized across platforms like Instagram and TikTok. The cloud-like drink involves rapidly whisking equal parts instant coffee powder, sugar, and hot water until it forms soft creamy peaks, then adding it on top of hold or cold milk.

Pro tip: The name is derived from dalgona, a Korean candy.

Get the recipe for Dalgona Coffee from Delish »

14 Affogato

This classic Italian dessert has two simple ingredients: Hot espresso and cold vanilla ice cream. The name refers to the ice cream being “drowned” in the espresso.

Pro tip: You can mix up this recipe to your liking by adding a dessert liqueur like Frangelico or Kahlúa, some grated chocolate, or other sweet elements.

Get the recipe for Affogato from Illy »

15 Mexican Coffee (Café de Olla)

Café de olla is a Mexican coffee traditionally prepared in an earthen pot with ground coffee, cinnamon, and raw dark sugar called piloncillo. Other optional elements include cloves, star anise, and orange rind.

Pro tip: This sweet, spicy brew is great for the winter months, but can also be enjoyed year-round.

Get the recipe for Mexican Coffee from Mexico in my Kitchen »

16 Espresso Martini

This now-classic cocktail combines espresso, vodka, and Kahlúa liqueur into a frothy pick-me-up.

Pro tip: It was first coined the Vodka Espresso in 1983 by late bartender Dick Bradsell of the Soho Brasserie, who allegedly crafted the drink at the request of a British top model.

Get the recipe for Espresso Martini from Absolut »

17 Turkish Coffee

Although it has different names and variations throughout North Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, Turkish coffee is typically prepared unfiltered with extra finely ground coffee and ground cardamom. This warm, spiced coffee is a great alternative to syrup-flavored drinks in the autumn and winter.

Pro tip: The grounds and water are traditionally heated in an ibrik, but the recipe can be adapted to suit a saucepan.

Get the recipe for Turkish Coffee from Illy »

18 Vietnamese Iced Coffee (Cà Phê Đá)

A sweet and intense version of iced coffee, this drink typically combines fresh French roast coffee made with a Vietnamese coffee maker and sweetened condensed milk over ice.

Pro tip: You can also prepare your own version with a different brew method (like a French press or moka pot) and different beans, so long as the brew is still strong.

Get the recipe for Vietnamese Iced Coffee from White on Rice Couple »

19 Dirty Chai

This coffee shop favorite combines the spicy sweetness of a chai latte with the extra pick-me-up of an espresso shot. Masala chai is prepared latte-style with frothed milk, and the espresso (or brewed coffee, if you prefer) is added to serve.

Pro tip: A dirty chai can also be made alcoholic with coffee liqueur, or chilled over ice.

Get the recipe for Dirty Chai from Hy-Vee »

20 Frappuccino

More dessert than coffee, the Frappuccino is a Starbucks classic — a blended concoction of milk, sugar, coffee and ice, topped with whipped cream and flavored syrups.

Pro tip: Although there are dozens of variations, the vanilla, mocha, and caramel versions are all easy to make at home.

Get the recipe for Frappuccino from Delish »

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