If you are new to espresso, the number of options and jargon on your local coffee shop menu may be overwhelming. Here’s a rundown of types of espresso drinks.
Espresso is a wonderful type of coffee drink. It is a small concentrated serving of coffee and comes in tiny serving sizes, known as shots. It is brewed when pressurized hot water is forced through finely-ground coffee beans compacted together. You’ll hear baristas talking about “pulling an espresso shot.”
Of course, there are other coffee-making methods, such as brewed coffee, drip coffee, or coffee made with a French press. And as wonderful as those coffee beverages may be, if they don’t use the method listed above, they are one of the types of espresso drinks.
However, that is not to say that there is no variety when you want your coffee made with espresso. That is simply not true, as the list of espresso-based beverages below demonstrates.
Sometimes, the key to creating the perfect coffee is simplicity. An espresso is a coffee made using the method mentioned above and served in a small cup. Although served in roughly the same quantity as a bar shot, this is a drink that’s best sipped.
Often served with a glass of water, you typically get a single or a double shot of espresso, and it is one of the most commonly drank coffee drinks in Italy and France.
2. Americano/Lungo/Long Black
The Americano is similar to espresso, except it is served in a larger cup with hot water added to the shots. It reportedly got its name when American soldiers on the continent found the espresso coffee too strong, so they added water to make it more palatable. An Americano is quite similar to an espresso lungo, with both coffees using espresso and hot water.
However, with the lungo, water is added during the brewing process. On the other hand, if you are making an Americano, you would add water to the already brewed espresso. Another drink with the same ingredients is a long black.
The only difference between a long black and an espresso is that traditionally, an Americano has the water added after the espresso is poured. In contrast, a long black is where the water is poured first. If you ask for a black coffee when in a coffeehouse, there is a strong chance that you will be getting some version of the above.
The perfect latte (or caffé latte) is a customizable cup of coffee that starts with a single or double espresso shot, which is topped with a few ounces of steamed milk and finished with a layer of milk foam. Typically, the amount of coffee to steamed milk is approximately 1-to-2.
They are also entirely customizable, with some people loving a dollop of vanilla or hazelnut in their drink. Different people like different flavors with their coffee; a latte is the perfect drink to experiment with.
Latte art has kicked off in a big way over the past number of years, with this popular drink being an avenue for the most creative baristas to express themselves. This is where the person creating the coffee designs a picture using the drink’s ingredients.
Speaking of customizable lattes, the mocha is a drink born out of the cafe latte’s flexibility. A mocha is short for ‘mocha latte’; simply put, it’s a regular latte with chocolate syrup added. Because everything is better with chocolate, and that is also true when it comes to coffee.
The cappuccino is a big hit in coffee shops throughout the globe and was made famous during the Second World War. It is typically a single shot of espresso or two, with a layer of steamed milk and a layer of foamy milk on top. A cappuccino should have a stronger taste than a latte, with the best baristas making this drink equal parts liquid to foam.
6. Flat White
Flat White is an Australian drink that was reportedly created in response to a customer’s request for a drink similar to a cappuccino but without crema or foam. So, basically, it is a cappuccino with no foam, and with extra milk.
Starbucks once again gave it a new definition. Starbucks’ Flat White contains two shots of ristretto (a short shot of a more concentrated espresso coffee) and 10 to 15 ounces of steamed milk. In the world of specialty coffee, flat whites are usually described as small lattes.
However, the coffee flavor from the espresso is more intense, and with little to no foam. You may also be interested in reading our guide on what is a piccolo latte.
We are reducing the size again with another common espresso-with-milk drink — Gibraltar, also known as a Cortado. This four to five-ounce drink from Spain is served in a Gibraltar glass. The espresso is strong and only mixed with two to three ounces of steamed milk to make it less intense — just enough to make it a little bit enjoyable.
Gibraltars are stronger than cappuccinos, and you can taste more of the coffee’s flavors through the milk. Many people who are new to espresso do not like the strong coffee flavor of this beverage, but it is enjoyed by many coffee lovers worldwide. It is strong but still not as robust as a plain espresso.
Starbucks added this coffee to its menu as a 12 to 20-ounce coffee drink with a lot of caramel syrup – which is very unlike the classic macchiato. The classic latte macchiato was simply an espresso shot topped with a drop of microfoam. This froth was usually spooned out, leaving no milk in the cup — and the drink was never bigger than two to three ounces in size.
Most specialty coffee shops prefer a classic macchiato but put their own spin on it. They make latte art by pouring a small amount of liquid milk into the espresso instead of adding that small dollop of microfoam. It is still a two to three-ounce drink, but it now has a drop of steamed milk.
If you’re at a specialty coffee shop and order a macchiato, you will probably be asked to explain what you really want. To reduce confusion simply say “espresso macchiato.”
Macchiato is an excellent option if you want to experience the strong coffee flavor of espresso without being overpowered by it. The small amount of liquid milk added or the small dollop of microfoam on top smooths out the rough edges without changing the flavor profile of the espresso shot.
Although not technically a drink but more of a dessert, an affogato is one of the best ways to use an espresso machine. In simple terms, this Italian dessert dish is made by pouring a shot or two of espresso over ice cream.
You can add whipped cream. In fact, you can add whatever you want. There are no rules, apart from it needs to have coffee and ice cream.
Customizing Your Espresso Drink
If you understand dry and wet drinks, you can easily alter your favorite espresso drink. These terms allow you to control how much foam you want in your coffee drink. Requesting a dry drink from a barista means that you want more foam and less liquid.
On the other hand, ordering a “wet” drink from a barista implies that you don’t want as much foam. For example, a wet cappuccino contains less foam than standard cappuccinos, meaning it is similar to a flat white. Whereas, a dry latte will have more foam than usual, which brings it closer to a large-size cappuccino.