When To Call Yourself A Coffee Drinker

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By: Samuel Malesky | smalesky@radford.edu

As a college student, chances are you have some kind of caffeine intake that gets you through the study sessions, early morning lectures (looking at you 8 a.m. classes), and all-nighters.

If you choose to get your caffeine from coffee, congratulations, you’ve made a great choice.

However, just because you drink coffee out of necessity, it doesn’t mean you’re a full-fledged coffee drinker. It’s something you have to earn; you have to know your coffee.

Let me explain: If you said you were a food connoisseur, but your knowledge of food only consisted of opinions, you wouldn’t be a connoisseur, and coffee is no different.

If you want to be able to call yourself a coffee drinker confidently, and without fearing any follow-up questions, you need to know the lingo of the coffee world.

If you want to be able to call yourself a coffee drinker confidently, and without fearing any follow-up questions, you need to know the lingo of the coffee world.

Here are the most basic coffee terms you should know.


There are three main “roasts,” which refer to how long the coffee bean is roasted before grinding. The three main roasts are: Light, Medium and Dark.

“Light” roasts retain the most caffeine, but it is a much more mild coffee. If you like a subtle cup that allows for cream and sugar to take the spotlight, a light roast is for you.

“Medium” roast is the most preferred cup in America, and has a robust flavor but still goes down smoothly. If you enjoy the taste of coffee but don’t want an intense experience, you can’t go wrong with a medium.

“Dark” roasted coffee beans retain the least amount of caffeine and have an intensely bitter and bold flavor. Those who drink their coffee black (or plain) prefer a dark roast coffee.

Photo Credit: (Hailey Scherer | The Tartan) Nothing like coffee in the morning, right?

Blends, Varieties and Add-ons

Another aspect of coffee is “blends,” which refer to the ratio of different coffees from many places in the world in a single cup. This results in a distinct flavor.

The most basic blend can be just two different types of coffee, while the more complex blends can have as many as eight.

Generally, most blends of coffee bought at a coffee shop or the grocery store is a blend of around four or five types of coffee. These ratios are closely guarded secrets of the trade and give each cup of coffee its own distinct flavor.

Many people don’t like the bitter flavor of black coffee, so add-ons provide an opportunity to shake up the coffee experience. Add-ons can consist of cream, milk, sugar, syrups, cocoa, cinnamon, and sometimes even alcohol.

Coffee drinking isn’t just for a morning caffeine boost either; coffee is drunk on many occasions.

In Italy, coffee is mixed with ice cream as a dessert. 

In Ireland, it’s mixed with alcohol to celebrate holidays. While traditionally hot, cold brew coffees are becoming more and more popular; coffee is a versatile beverage.

Being a coffee drinker involves knowing not just that you like coffee, but knowing what you like about coffee. That means you need to try different types. There are hundreds of different combinations of beans, roast, blends and preparation methods that result in wildly different flavors.

So you like coffee. That’s great. However, there’s a whole world of coffee to enjoy. It’s a culture that spans continents and touches millions of lives, so why limit it in yours?

For more columns from our Tea writers, stay connected with your Tartan newspaper.

Photo Credit: (Demi DeHerrera on Unsplash)

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