Top 5 Most Purchased Coffee Drinks and How to Make Them

Coffee drinks

Have you ever wondered what are the most purchased coffee drinks in the world?

Coffee became one of the most consumed drink in the world and it evolved a lot since it was simply a strong black hot drink. According to International Coffee Organisation, in 2018, over 161 thousand 60kg coffee bags was consumed in the world. Europe consumed the most, over 53 thousand bags of coffee. Followed by Asia and Oceania with over 34 thousand bags. North America consumed over 29 thousand and South America over 26 thousand bags of coffee. Africans drank over 11 thousand bags and last Central America and Mexico with just over 5 thousand bags.

Values on the left represent the number of 60kg bags of coffee consumed in particular region

There are many ways to enjoy coffee and we all have our favourite way to drink it. But have you ever wondered which one is most popular in the world? I have, and I have done some research on this subject in order to find out what coffee drink is worlds number one. Do you want to take a guess? If you are thinking about espresso, in one hand you’re right but in other you’re wrong 😁. Espresso is term that have many more searches on google then any other coffee drink and most of popular coffee drinks are based on espresso. But I was thinking about ones that people have purchased the most. Do you want to find out what are the most popular coffee drinks? Let’s get to the point.

Top 5 coffee drinks

List of the world’s most popular coffee drinks looks like this in the year 2018.

  1. Latte
  2. Cappuccino
  3. Americano
  4. Flat white
  5. Cafe au lait

In the UK alone latte was the most popular coffee product purchased, with more than 930 million sold in the year 2017 to 25 February 2018. Cappuccinos followed with 800 million cups sold.

Values represent number of cups sold. 1 unit=1 million

Since then, the popularity of flat white in google search engine and amongst consumers has grown rapidly and it jumps over americano and latte to share the first place in google search engine with cappuccino. I believe that such success of flat white lays in consumers need to drink smooth coffee drinks with stronger taste of coffee instead of latte’s milky taste. I remember someone once said that flat white is like a stronger latte, only with less milk.

Cappuccino and flat white have the same number of searches 27, 100 what makes 33.71% of total searches for these five coffee drinks. Latte with 14,800 searches or 18.41% holds 3rd place. Followed by americano with 7,000 searches or 8.71% and cafe au lait with 4,400 searches or 5.47%. I’ll just mention that espresso, the main ingredient of all coffees from this list have 49,500 searches. But like I said, this list is about the most purchased coffees so it’s not in our top 5.

But if we look at the google trends for their recent popularity, latte is a way in front of others.

Now let me tell you a bit more about each coffee drink from this list and how to make them.

1. Latte

The most purchased coffee drink in the world. Latte is made with espresso and frothed or cold milk, served in 220-260ml cup.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, caffe latte term was first used in English in 1867 in essay “Italian journeys” by W. D. Howell. Coffee reviewer and author Kenneth Davids said that latte is an American invention and even in Italy it could be found, at first, only in places with mostly American tourists. The story says that latte was made for Americans because the regular cappuccino was too strong and they needed to add more milk.

How to make latte

In order to make latte you’ll need espresso machine, coffee beans, grinder, tamper, milk, milk pitcher and a 220-260ml cup.

First thing first, prepare the espresso. For more info about this make sure to check my post how to make espresso.

Next thing to do is to pour the milk into the pitcher and froth it. Or just pour cold milk if you like. If you choose frothed milk when finished with frothing pour the milk over espresso and enjoy your latte.

2. Cappuccino

One of the most famous coffee drink in the world. Cappuccino is made with single shot of espresso and milk foam, served in 150-180ml cups.

First cappuccino came to world in Italy, after invention of espresso machine. But becomes really popular after WW2. It was mainly an italian drink until 1950. when it becomes famous in UK. Americans still served only black coffee at that time and around 1980. a couple of smart enterpreneurs saw in Europe the popularity of coffees mixed with milk and decided to bring it to US. Today you can see coffee bars serving coffee with milk on every corner in US.

How to make cappuccino

In order to make cappuccino you’ll need an espresso machine, coffee beans, grinder, tamper, milk pitcher and 150-180ml cup.

First you have to prepare espresso. Off course you should pull the espresso shot into your cappuccino cup. I wrote an article how to make espresso, if you haven’t allready then you should read it, because good espresso is the most important factor if you want to make smooth and tasty coffee drink, along with well frothed milk.

Next thing to do after pulling your espresso shot is to pour milk in the pitcher and make a milk foam to pour on top of your espresso. Pour the milk in the cup over espresso and voila, you have your cappuccino. I always pour milk to cappuccino over the side of my pitcher, not over the nozzle because cappuccino should have a white hood of foam on top and I find it easier to make the hood pouring milk over the side of the pitcher. No latte art on cappuccino for me, sorry.

3. Americano

Americano is made with espresso and hot water, served in 150-180ml cup.

During WW2 American soldiers were stationed in Italy. They were used to drink drip coffee and regular espresso was too strong for them so they got the idea to add more hot water to espresso. That’s how caffe americano was born. So americano is just espresso poured over or diluted with hot water. If you are like me and you think that every black espresso based drink should have a layer of crema on top you’ll want to pour espresso over hot water so the crema stays on top. It’s also believed that espresso blends better with water this way.

How to make americano

In order to make americano you’ll need espresso machine, good coffee beans, grinder, tamper and 150-180ml cup.

First thing like in many cases is to make espresso. For more info check my post about how to make espresso. Next is to fill your cup with hot water and slowly pour espresso into water. Enjoy your caffe americano.

4. Flat white

Flat white is made with single or double espresso and microfoam, served in 150-180ml cup.

There are lots of debates going on around the question what is flat white. Australians and New Zealanders are claiming its invention. Australians pour a single shot of espresso, while New Zealand flat whites are made with double shot. Earliest documented reference to flat white in Australia is from mid 1980s at Moors Espresso Bar in Sydney. New Zealanders will say that a flat white is invented in Aucland as an alternative to latte by Derek Townsend and Darrell Aklers from Cafe DKD. Another New Zealand claim is failed cappuccino at Bar Bodega in Wellington in 1989.

For some people flat white is a small latte, for others is a cappuccino with less froth. For me, a flat white is made with single or double shot of espresso (depends on a customer wish) and microfoam (microfoam is milk from bottom of the pitcher).

How to make flat white

For flat white you’ll need espresso machine, quality coffee beans, grinder, tamper, milk, pitcher and a 150-180ml cup.

First make an espresso. Double or single, it’s up to you. Check my how to make espresso post for more info. Then pour the milk into pitcher and froth it. You don’t need too much froth so don’t keep the steam wand close to surface too long. When the pitcher gets hot on touch tap the bottom of the pitcher on the counter to brake bubbles and swirl the milk to become smooth and shiny. Before pouring milk into cup, spill the froth from top and pour the microfoam that is left on top of espresso and enjoy your flat white. If you have different definition of flat white tell me about it in comment section.

5. Cafe au lait

Cafe au lait is made with brewed coffee or espresso lungo and cold or warm milk without froth, served in 150-180ml cup (you can use bigger cups at home, in my coffee bar we serve only espresso based drinks and we have only 3 sizes of cups- espresso 88ml cup, cappuccino, americano and flat white 170ml and latte 230ml). Coffee milk ratio should be 1:1,or with less milk, depending of your taste. Cafe au lait origins from France and it means coffee with milk.

How to make cafe au lait

To make cafe au lait you’ll need black coffee or espresso lungo, cold or warm milk without froth and a cup.

After all those explanations about coffees on first four places I think you’ll understand if I just say make an espresso lungo and top it with cold or warm milk without froth in ratio 1:1 or with less milk and enjoy your cafe au lait.

I forgot to ask are you confused with frothing milk for different coffee drinks? Don’t be because you can froth it the same way, just use different parts of milk from your pitcher. Froth is on top and microfoam on the bottom of the pitcher. You can use spoon to take froth for cappuccino or to remove it for flat white or latte. Who cares how you do it, as long as your coffee is tasty and you are enjoying it. If you aren’t sure how to properly froth milk keep reading.

Frothing milk

Tip: Always use cold milk.

Put the steam wand of your espresso machine in straight position. Adjust the pitcher, aligne nozzle to the steam wand. Place the steam wand in the pitcher just below milk surface and switch it on.

In first couple of seconds, until milk reach 37°C (pitcher should be just warm on touch at this point) the froth is created. Just remember that for frothing you should keep the steam wand close to milk surface. Longer you keep it there you create more froth. You can know you’re on right track if you hear the sound like chirping. And if you hear splattering sound that means that your steam wand is too high and no sound at all means that your steam wand is too deep.

When your pitcher gets warm on touch it’s time to get the steam wand deeper into milk but be careful not to touch the bottom of the pitcher. Find a good angle to create a nice whirpool and keep warming until around 60°C (pitcher should be slightly hot on touch). Be careful with the temperature of the milk because higher temperatures will burn your milk and change it’s taste.

When you finish with frothing turn the steam wand off and tap the bottom of your pitcher on the counter to remove any air bubbles from foam. Swirl the milk in the pitcher to make it smooth and shiny.

Tip: Purge the steam wand by turning it on for five seconds in order to remove water and milk left in the wand and to build the pressure up before use.


I just can’t understand all this fighting and debates about definitions of coffee drinks. Everyone is inventing something that has already been invented. Cappuccino should be white on top without latte art, that’s why it’s called cappuccino. Latte is coffee with more milk and that’s it. No matter if it’s cold or frothed milk, it is still latte. Flat white will still be flat white no matter if you pour single or double shot of espresso in medium sized cup and top it with microfoam. I just don’t get it. What do you think about that? Am I right or wrong? Stop trying to make simple things complicated and let us enjoy our coffees.

Oh I almost forgot to ask, which one is your favourite?

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