The Most Difficult Coffee Drink to Make: Unlocking the Elusive Art of Crafting an Exquisite Blend

Choose the beverage you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Nov 29, 2023 06:25
Welcome to StrawPoll, your ultimate destination for ranking and voting on a plethora of exciting topics! Today, we're brewing up a steamy challenge for all you coffee enthusiasts out there. We present to you the great battle of barista skills: "What is the most difficult coffee drink to make?" Dive into our aromatic list of intricate coffee concoctions, and vote for the one you think demands the highest level of expertise. Is it the velvety-smooth flat white or the intricate pour of a cortado? Or perhaps it's mastering the balance of flavors in an affogato? Don't see your choice on our list? No problem! Flex your coffee knowledge muscles and suggest a missing option. So, grab your favorite cup of java, and let's embark on this caffeine-fueled adventure to discover the most demanding coffee drink to create. Happy voting!

What Is the Most Difficult Coffee Drink to Make?

  1. 1
    A cappuccino requires precise measurements of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk, which can be tricky to get right. The ratio of milk to espresso is also important, and the foam on top must be the right consistency.
    Cappuccino is a classic Italian coffee drink made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk. It is typically served in a small, ceramic cup and is known for its rich, velvety texture and distinct layering of flavors. The combination of strong espresso, creamy steamed milk, and fluffy foam creates a balanced and indulgent beverage.
    • Coffee to milk ratio: 1:1:1
    • Espresso volume: 30-40 ml
    • Milk temperature: between 65-70 °C
    • Milk texture: velvety and creamy
    • Frothed milk volume: approximately 2-3 cm thick
  2. 2
    A macchiato is a single shot of espresso with a dollop of foamed milk on top. The milk must be perfectly frothed and added in the correct amount to balance the espresso. It's also important to not overheat the milk, as it can affect the taste.
    Macchiato is a classic coffee drink that originated in Italy. It is typically made with a shot of espresso that is 'stained' or 'marked' with a small amount of milk. The word 'macchiato' means 'stained' or 'marked' in Italian, representing the small amount of milk added to the espresso.
    • Size: Small, typically around 1 to 2 ounces
    • Espresso: A single shot of espresso serves as the base
    • Milk: A small amount of steamed milk is added, usually just a dollop or a spoonful
    • Milk Temperature: The milk is frothed to a temperature between 140°F to 160°F (60°C to 71°C)
    • Milk Texture: The milk should be velvety and smooth, with microfoam consistency
  3. 3
    Flat White
    GeorgeMichaelFarewell · CC BY-SA 4.0

    Flat White

    A flat white is similar to a latte, but with a higher concentration of espresso and less milk. The milk must be perfectly steamed to create a velvety texture, and the espresso must be strong enough to stand up to the milk.
    The Flat White is a velvety espresso-based beverage with a rich and smooth flavor at Starbucks. It is a combination of perfectly steamed whole milk and a double shot of espresso with a thin layer of silky microfoam on top. This results in a harmonious balance between the espresso and milk, allowing the coffee flavors to shine through.
    • Milk: Whole milk
    • Espresso shots: Double shot
    • Texture: Silky microfoam on top
    • Flavor: Rich and smooth
    • Strength: Medium to strong
    Flat White in other rankings
  4. 4
    A cortado is a Spanish-style espresso drink that combines equal parts espresso and steamed milk. The milk must be heated to the right temperature and added in the right amount to balance the espresso.
    Cortado is a coffee drink that originated in Spain. It is made by combining a shot of espresso with an equal amount of steamed milk, creating a smooth and balanced flavor profile. The name 'cortado' comes from the Spanish word meaning 'cut', referring to the way the espresso is 'cut' with milk.
    • Espresso-to-milk ratio: 1:1
    • Coffee type: Espresso
    • Milk type: Steamed milk
    • Temperature: Approximately 150-160°F (65-70°C)
    • Serving size: Usually served in a small glass or cup (approximately 4-6 ounces)
  5. 5
    An affogato is a dessert coffee that combines a shot of espresso with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The espresso must be brewed perfectly and the ice cream must be of high quality to create a delicious combination.
    Affogato is a simple yet elegant Italian dessert and coffee drink. It consists of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream, which is then 'drowned' in a shot of hot espresso. The contrast between the cold and creamy gelato and the hot and intense espresso creates a delightful sensory experience of temperature and flavors blending together.
    • Ingredients: Vanilla gelato or ice cream, hot espresso
    • Serving Temperature: Cold gelato with hot espresso
    • Preparation Time: Less than 5 minutes
    • Caffeine Content: Varies depending on the espresso used
    • Flavor Profile: Rich, creamy, and bittersweet
  6. 6

    Irish Coffee

    Joe Sheridan
    An Irish coffee combines hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar, topped with whipped cream. The coffee must be brewed perfectly and the whiskey must be added in the right amount to balance the flavors.
    Irish Coffee is a classic coffee cocktail that is both delicious and challenging to make. This drink combines hot coffee, Irish whiskey, brown sugar, and a dollop of whipped cream, resulting in a perfect blend of rich flavors and a delightful aroma. The creator of Irish Coffee is said to be Joe Sheridan, a chef at Foynes Airbase in County Limerick, Ireland, who invented the drink in the 1940s to warm up travelers during a particularly cold winter. Today, Irish Coffee is enjoyed worldwide as a comforting and indulgent beverage.
    • Coffee type: Hot black coffee
    • Whiskey: Irish whiskey (preferably 1.5 ounces)
    • Sweetener: Brown sugar (to taste)
    • Cream: Fresh whipped cream (lightly whipped, not stiff)
    • Glassware: Heat-resistant glass mug
    Irish Coffee in other rankings
  7. 7
    A mocha is a combination of espresso, milk, and chocolate syrup or powder. The chocolate must be added in the right amount to balance the espresso and milk, and the milk must be perfectly steamed to create a smooth texture.
    Mocha is a rich and warm skin tone that exudes elegance and sophistication. It has a deep brown base with undertones of red and hints of golden hues, reminiscent of freshly brewed and velvety smooth mocha coffee.
    • Base Color: Deep brown
    • Undertones: Red
    • Accent Color: Golden hues
    • Warmth: Rich and inviting
    • Complexion: Smooth and flawless
  8. 8
    An espresso con panna is a shot of espresso with a dollop of whipped cream on top. The espresso must be brewed perfectly and the whipped cream must be of high quality to create a delicious combination.
    Espresso con Panna is a rich and indulgent coffee drink that combines the intense flavors of espresso with a luscious topping of whipped cream. It is a popular Italian specialty that provides a decadent twist to a classic espresso. The contrast between the bold espresso and the creamy sweetness of the whipped cream creates a delightful balance of flavors.
    • Coffee base: Espresso
    • Topping: Whipped cream
    • Preparation: A shot of espresso is extracted and topped with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
    • Size: Usually served in a small espresso cup or glass
    • Flavor profile: Bold, rich, and creamy
  9. 9

    Vienna Coffee

    Cafe Central, Vienna
    A Vienna coffee is a combination of black coffee, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings. The coffee must be brewed perfectly and the whipped cream must be added in the right amount to balance the flavors.
    Vienna Coffee is a coffee drink made by adding whipped cream and chocolate shavings to a double shot of espresso. It is typically served in a glass mug, allowing the layers of coffee, cream, and chocolate to be seen. The drink originated in Vienna, Austria, known for its rich coffee culture and tradition. It was created by the famous Viennese coffee house, Cafe Central, in the mid-19th century.
    • Coffee base: Double shot of espresso
    • Whipped cream: Generous amount
    • Chocolate shavings: A few sprinkles or curls
    • Serving style: Glass mug
    • Coffee origin: Vienna, Austria
  10. 10
    Turkish Coffee
    Tema · CC BY-SA 3.0
    Turkish coffee is a traditional coffee preparation method that involves brewing finely ground coffee beans in a pot over an open flame. The coffee must be brewed carefully to avoid over-brewing or burning, and the grounds must be allowed to settle before serving.
    Turkish coffee is a traditional method of preparing coffee that originated in the Middle East. It is known for its strong and rich flavor, as well as its unique brewing process.
    • Type of coffee: Finely ground Arabica beans
    • Brewing method: Boiling the coffee grounds in a special pot called a cezve
    • Water ratio: 1 demitasse cup (approximately 60-70 ml) of water for every 1 heaping teaspoon of coffee
    • Turkish coffee pot: A small, long-handled pot with a narrow neck and a wide base
    • Sugar: Options include no sugar, little sugar, medium sugar, or sweet
    Turkish Coffee in other rankings

Missing your favorite beverage?


Ranking factors for difficult coffee drink

  1. Complexity of the recipe
    Analyze how many ingredients are involved in the process and how intricate the steps are in making the drink.
  2. Technique and skill required
    Certain coffee drinks require specific skills or techniques, such as steaming milk to the right consistency, making microfoam, or pouring latte art. Consider how difficult these skills are to master.
  3. Time and effort required
    Some coffee drinks may take longer to make than others, especially if it involves several steps or ingredients. Measure the time and effort needed to create the drink.
  4. Consistency and quality control
    Evaluate how easily the quality and taste of the drink can be replicated consistently. Some drinks might be more sensitive to variations in the brewing process or ingredient ratios, making it challenging to create the perfect cup every time.
  5. Equipment and tools needed
    Consider the various equipment and tools required to make the coffee drink, such as espresso machines, grinders, milk frothers, and pour-over devices. Some drinks may necessitate specialized equipment that might be difficult to access or operate.
  6. Ingredient availability and sensitivity
    Some coffee drinks may have rare or specific ingredients, such as specific coffee bean types, flavored syrups, or alternative milks. Factor in the ease of sourcing these ingredients and how they may impact the overall difficulty of making the drink.
  7. Presentation and aesthetics
    Analyze the level of skill and creativity needed to present the drink aesthetically. Some coffee drinks may require more intricate design elements, such as latte art, layered colors, or garnishes.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult coffee drink to make. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or beverage is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 156 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each beverage once every 24 hours. The rank of each beverage is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


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More information on most difficult coffee drink to make

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, with an estimated 2.25 billion cups consumed every day. From simple black coffee to complex espresso-based drinks, there is a wide variety of coffee drinks to choose from. However, not all coffee drinks are created equal when it comes to difficulty of preparation. Some require precise measurements, intricate techniques, and specialized equipment. In this article, we will explore the most difficult coffee drink to make and the skills required to master it.