Category • Best Coffee Buying Guide

Spilling the beans on black coffee

Jess | September 9, 2022

With so many types of coffee drinks available, it’s easy to get bamboozled to understand the many differences between them all. Here at FreshGround, coffee is at the heart of what we do. All our team receives SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) training to confidently advise our customers on anything coffee related.

So with this in mind, we invited our resident SCA trainer, Scott Barnes, to go back to basics and talk about different black coffee to help you find your perfect cup of happy.


Let’s start with the espresso. Espresso serves as the base for a lot of other coffee drinks and was born in Italy out of its vibrant coffee culture. It’s made strong and fast by forcing high-pressure steam through finely-ground coffee beans.

Due to its strength, robust flavour and higher level of caffeine per unit, espresso is usually served as a smaller shot in demitasse-style cups and always without milk. It literally translates to ‘pressed coffee’. And the Italians love it so much, they reportedly drink 14 billion cups of the stuff every year!


Fast becoming a favourite for coffee connoisseurs, the Americano is perfect if you’re looking for a bold, flavourful coffee without milk. Put simply, an Americano is an espresso diluted with hot water. Purists will agree that you should always add water to the espresso and not the other way around to ensure you get the crema. Crema is the creamy, light brown layer on top which marks the quality of a good Americano and gives it its mellow taste.

It’s thought that the Americano was discovered by American soldiers stationed in Italy during World War II. The story goes that they found the traditional espresso in Italy too strong in taste. So they added hot water to dilute it to recreate the coffee they were used to enjoying at home. And that’s how this beloved coffee got its name!


The ristretto is basically an intense shot of espresso but made a little shorter. In fact, translated from Italian it means ‘restrict; which makes sense when you understand how it’s made. Produced using the same amount of finely ground coffee as an espresso but it uses half the amount of water.

The shorter extraction process gives it a sweeter and more concentrated flavour with no bitterness. It’s traditionally served in Italy as a quick pick-me-up after lunch or dinner. Our team will often enjoy a ristretto to beat the post-lunch slump that can happen during the afternoons. This could be the perfect coffee for you if you’re not 100% sold on espresso as the ristretto can offer a sweet, intense and fruity experience. Best served on its own without milk, sugar or sweeteners that will dilute and change the flavour.

Filter coffee

Filter coffee offers a delicate and delicious brew with a clean taste. It’s an easy option that you can make while you’re working from home using an affordable filter coffee machine or manually. It’s made by slowly pouring hot water through ground coffee in a coffee filter and is sure to be a superior option over a cup of instant. We love using a V60 to make a great cup from home, although there are lots of options to choose from.

And it’s important to note that, although both long black coffees, filter coffee is NOT the same as Americano. With filter coffee, all the water passes through the coffee grounds. Whereas with an Americano only a small amount passes through to make the espresso base. The rest of the water is added after. Typically you’ll also need a finer grind of coffee for espresso than for filter. The two processes give a very different drink at the end.

But with any great cup of coffee, regardless of how it is brewed, you need to start with quality beans. That’s what we offer by choosing from FreshGround’s range of coffee. And, given the amount of water involved in making these drinks, water quality is paramount for a great coffee.

Get in touch

You can contact us anytime to talk about your office coffee machine requirements. And if you’re all about milky coffees instead of black, we’ve got you covered in our Milk-based Coffees Explained blog.