People drink coffee for all types of reasons. Some are looking to savor notes of stone fruit, baking chocolate, and jasmine honeysuckle. Others just want to taser their adenosine receptors into a state of permanent alertness. Whatever your goal, there's a coffee drink out there for you. But chances are, you're ordering the wrong coffee for your very specific desires. Here's how to remedy the situation, according to your bean-based logic at the counter.
You order: Dark roast What you should actually order: French press Darkly roasted coffee is the equivalent of a well-done steak: it's just a charred version of something beautiful. If you want a coffee that's so big and bold you can chew it, go with a cup of French press. It achieves the same goal without scorching the beans to death.
You drink coffee for the "pure" flavor
You order: Black coffee What you should order: Espresso, then a black coffee Espresso is to black coffee what LSD is to spinning around in a circle 10 times. Sure, both are mind-expanding, but one is going to, like, expand your mind.
You drink coffee for guilt-free coffee shop workspace
You order: A bottomless cup with no tip What you should order: A pour-over, then a tip, then a pastry, then an espresso, then a tip, then a compliment to the barista Unless your coffee shop is located at the intersection of New York and Kentucky Ave, don't expect free parking. That bottomless cup will draw you the angry eyes of your barista. Just keep the tips flowing and you'll bask in their silent approval/disinterest.
You drink coffee to impress good-looking baristas
You order: Espresso What you should actually order: Cortado The least well-known milk-based drink in the coffee shop canon, the cortado is just an espresso shot with a little bit of warm milk. You get the richness of a latte, but retain more of the espresso flavor/respect of your barista.
You drink coffee to warm up
You order: Drip coffee What you should actually order: Americano An Americano is an espresso shot dropped into scalding-hot water. It will almost always be much more scalding than any drip coffee.
You drink coffee as an after-dinner digestif
You order: Drip coffee What you should order: Cappuccino With a cappuccino, you're getting a dessert-appropriate amount of dairy, the lower acidity won't powder-keg your gut, and it's much fresher than the pot of restaurant coffee that's been sitting since 5pm.
You drink coffee for the aromas of red currant and papaya and lavender
You order: Pour-over of heirloom Ethiopian beans What you should order: Red currant and papaya and lavender Specialty coffee companies use a codified wheel of flavor adjectives to describe the subtleties of their beans, but if you've got a craving for coffee that tastes like stone fruit, you should just eat some stone fruit with a cup of coffee.
You order: A K-Cup What you should actually order: Chemex Why would you want your diversion at work to be quick? Sure, your office break-room is stocked with an arsenal of single-serving options, but it also likely has a hot water boiler. Invest in any type of pour-over maker to turn that 30-second coffee run into a leisurely 10-minute mini-vacation. Chemex is a particularly good choice because it takes longer and makes more than one cup for easy sharing.
You drink coffee as a sugary treat
You order: Flavored iced latte with whipped cream on top What you should actually order: A milkshake with a chaser of coffee Sure, you could go with an iced caramel latte or a double mint mocha or a regular cup of coffee with a candy cane in it, but don't lie to yourself. Your sweet tooth would be much better served with a $5 shake than a $5 espresso drink.
You drink coffee for the caffeine
You order: Espresso What you should actually order: Iced coffee Espresso has more caffeine per milliliter, but the serving size is so small that you'd have to drink much more than a double shot to kick-start the old adenosine engines. Iced coffee is usually much more potent and goes down way faster than its hot and heavy cousin.
You drink coffee to, um, poop
You order: Drip coffee What you should actually order: A laxative Just buy some Metamucil. You'll sleep better afterward.
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Dan Gentile is a staff writer at Thrillist. He thinks that everyone who doesn't order an AeroPress is doing it wrong. Follow him to perfect cups of 140 characters at @Dannosphere.