What Is A Dirty Coffee? (Answered)

Last Updated on July 14, 2023 by Barry Gray

First, I am sure you will agree with me, the name of this coffee is so cool! It has a nice fun ring, but more than that, it is fun to drink. 

If you like smokey, sweet, dark, robust, and hot and cold, you will adore this coffee. If you read this and like it, there are a few recipes for your dirty coffee and some tips on preparing it.

When crafting a dirty coffee, the trick is to pour a shot or two of espresso over ice-cold milk. The frozen milk provides a unique canvas for your hot coffee to pass slowly, creating a stunning work of art right before your eyes.

If I had to describe a dirty coffee, it’s like being awake and asleep simultaneously. It’s also like loving a shot of strong hot coffee and then being hit by creamy cool goodness. Sound good? 

Well, it is. 

It’s all about contrasts, cold milk, hot coffee, dark and light, strong and mellow. A perfect hot and cold drink to satisfy that coffee craving any time of the day. 

If you love the punch of strong espresso but get a bit jittery, you will appreciate the next hit of creamy cool milk, which reduces the caffeine content. 

dirty coffee

Why would you make dirty coffee at home? 

So, why would you bother to make this rather artistic looking coffee at home? I see three main reasons why it’s worth putting in the effort.

  • Because you want to feel like a barista, pouring dirty coffee is a great way to feel like a pro. Everything looks fancier with dirty coffee and with so little effort. It is also low in calories compared to other fancy coffees. 
  • Because you’re a fan of contrasts, the contrast between the hot espresso and the cold milk makes dirty coffee unique. It’s a delicious and visually appealing way to start your day. It’s also a great way to show off. 
  • Because you’re feeling adventurous, dirty coffee is an excellent option if you’re looking for a new coffee drink. It’s different from anything else you’ve probably had before, and it’s sure to wake you up in the morning.

How Do You Make A Dirty Coffee? 

making an espresso for a dirty coffee

I often find people fall into the trap of thinking anything beyond instant coffee is difficult to make. I admit the visuals of a dirty coffee won’t help here since it does look fantastic.

But here’s the cool thing.

It’s so simple you will kick yourself for not having tried it before:

And here’s something else. To make dirty coffee, you will only need the following:

  • One shot of espresso/or two if you go for the larger size
  • 2 ounces of cold milk
  • A clear glass

It gets even better. You see, the steps you need to follow to make a dirty coffee is not complicated.

  1. Pour the cold milk into the transparent glass. That means chill beforehand.
  2. Slowly pour the espresso over the top of the milk.
  3. Enjoy!

See, I told you it was easy!

My Tips on Making the Perfect Dirty Coffee

how to make a dirty coffee

I know it can be stressful the first time you go ahead to make a new coffee, so I have four simple tips that will make the process significantly easier.

  • Use freshly brewed espresso. The fresher the espresso, the better the flavor of your dirty coffee will be.
  • Use cold milk. Cold milk will help to preserve the crema on the espresso shot.
  • Pour the espresso slowly. Pouring the espresso slowly will help to create a layered appearance.
  • Serve immediately. Dirty coffee is best enjoyed immediately after it is made. If you leave it too long, it merges into itself and becomes a muggy latte, I’d imagine!

Who Invented This Brilliant Coffee and Milk Combo? 

The drink known as dirty coffee is thought to have originated in Japan, although there is some disagreement about its precise origins. Some sources claim that coffee shops in Tokyo first invented it, while others say it originated in South Korea, the birthplace of Dalgona coffee.

Either way, dirty coffee has since traveled worldwide and is now enjoyed by coffee lovers globally and in Europe.

The name was inspired by how the coffee looks, the milk and coffee thrown together quickly to create that layered look. 

Dirty coffee is still prevalent in many parts of Asia, especially in Japan, South Korea, and Thailand. It is also becoming increasingly popular in other parts of the world, such as the United States and Europe.

It’s also popular because it is a no-fuss type of coffee with loads of visual and taste appeal. 

It’s impressive without a lot of hard work, but best of all, it is lower in calories. So if you are watching your weight, use skimmed milk, sweetener, or no sugar

You won’t need too much sugar if you have a decent espresso. The mellowness of the coffee will taste amazing against the cold milk. I’ll further discuss the types of coffee used in dirty coffees. 

Like all coffees, feel free to play around with taste. You can add syrup or sugar if you want to change it up. Even flavored syrups taste great in dirty coffee. 

There are many ways to enjoy dirty coffee. Some prefer black, while others like iced or mixed in a smoothie or milkshake for breakfast.

Four Ideas on How to Enjoy a Dirty Coffee

making a dirty coffee

I tend to play around with different coffee drinks and see how I can change them from time to time. I’ve done this with a dirty coffee as well, and I’ve came up with four different ways in which this coffee/milk combo will work.

  • Straight up: Straight up is how I described before, nice and straightforward. 
  • With ice: Add a few ice cubes for a refreshing cold drink.
  • In a smoothie: Add dirty coffee to a smoothie with your favorite fruits and vegetables for a delicious and nutritious breakfast.
  • In a milkshake: Add dirty coffee to a milkshake with your favorite ice cream and toppings for a decadent treat.

Which Types of Coffees Are Best For Dirty Coffee

This is an excellent question because the type of coffee you make your dirty coffee with will depend on what you like.

It is usually made with two types of beans. Either separately or mixed. 

Arabica beans are the most common coffee bean used in dirty coffee. They are known for their smooth, balanced flavor with hints of sweetness and acidity. 

Arabica beans are also relatively high in caffeine content, which gives dirty coffee that great kick. It has a tremendous punchy mouthfeel. 

Robusta beans are another coffee bean that can be used in dirty coffee. They are known for their robust and bold flavor with hints of chocolate and nuts. 

Robusta beans are also higher in caffeine content than Arabica beans so they can give dirty coffee a more intense flavor. If you get palpitations after coffee, go for arabica beans as they are lower in caffeine. 

A mix of Arabica and Robusta beans can also be used in dirty coffee. You can make a drink with a well-balanced mellow flavor.

The type of coffee beans used in dirty coffee is a matter of personal preference. 

Some people prefer the smooth, smokey balanced flavor of Arabica beans, while others prefer the robust and bold taste of Robusta beans. Ultimately, experimenting is the best way to determine which coffee beans you like.

Tips on Choosing the Right Coffee Beans for a Dirty Coffee

Selecting the right coffee beans is never an easy task. I’ve mentioned this on various posts on the site, but here are just four simple tips that could make a difference to your decision.

  • Consider your personal preferences. Do you like your coffee strong or weak? Sweet or tart? Or smokey and mellow. Once you know what you want, you can narrow your choices.
  • Look for beans that are roasted dark. Darker roasts tend to have a more robust flavor, better suited for dirty coffee.
  • Choose fresh beans. Freshly roasted beans will have the best flavor.
  • Grind the beans just before brewing. This will ensure that the coffee has the most intense flavor.

More On the Two Main Types of Coffee Beans

I mentioned earlier how both Arabica and Robusta beans can be used to make the espresso for a dirty coffee, but what’s the difference between the two?

Arabica beans are typically grown at higher altitudes, between 4,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level. They are more sensitive to pests and diseases than Robusta beans. 

Arabica beans are grown in many countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. You might have noticed that these climates are humid and hot. They are grown lovingly at higher altitudes because of their vulnerability to pests. 

Growing Arabica beans is a complex and time-consuming process. However, the result is fantastic, as you may already know. 

Growing Arabica beans is a difficult and time-consuming process, but it’s worth it in the end.

Robusta beans can be grown at lower altitudes, between 2,000 and 4,000 feet above sea level. This makes them more resistant to pests and diseases than Arabica beans. Robusta beans are grown in many countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, and Uganda.

The process of growing Robusta beans is similar to growing Arabica beans. However, there are some key differences. 

Robusta beans are more tolerant of pests and diseases so they can be grown in lower-quality soils and at lower altitudes. This makes Robusta beans more affordable than Arabica beans.

My Recap on a Dirty Coffee

A dirty coffee is an amazing drink to check out, but here’s my key points you should take away with you if you plan on then making your own version.

  • It consists of espresso poured over ice cold milk
  • It was invented in Japan
  • You can add ice to make it even colder
  • It only involves a few simple steps
  • Pour the espresso slowly to get a cooler-looking drink
  • Play around with different beans for the espresso
  • Add to a milkshake if you wish to be different

I see so many different ways in which you can enjoy a dirty coffee. It’s simply a case of making that first one and see how amazing it can be.

My Conclusion

You can enjoy a particular bean or mix of both in your dirty coffee. The exciting part is finding out what you like best. For me, it is also the presentation. The dirty coffee is drool-worthy. 

I know the idea of an iced coffee is more popular now than before, but try this slight variation with a dirty coffee and see what you think. I reckon you will surprise yourself.