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A Beginner's Guide to Espresso Drinks

Dec 18

Espresso drinks are specialty coffee drinks that comprise one or more espresso shots "pulled" out of an espresso maker.

The most loved espresso drinks include the Cappuccino, Latte (Caffe Latte) and Mocha (Caffe Mocha), although there are many more and each seems to have their own preferred drink.

We've come up with a list of the most popular kinds of espresso drinks. You can choose from the classic latte , or the classy macchiato, and even the espresso cocktail. It's possible that you need to refresh your knowledge regarding the various types of coffee drinks. But if you're looking to make these yourself, you can click the recipe to learn more. The recipes form part of our Barista Series where we teach the art of making coffeehouse-style drinks at home. Are you ready to start drinking?


Let's begin by discussing espresso, which is the primary ingredient in every drink below. First and foremost, Espresso is the process of making coffee. It's a method of making coffee using a small amount (or close to boiling) of water and finely ground coffee under pressure.

In preparation for making coffee, the coffee is ground into a portafilter basket and then tamped into flat "puck," and secured in the espresso machine. The machine is engaged and releases water at a stable temperature through a mechanical pump. The area above the flat espresso puck fills with water. Then, the espresso machine uses nine bars of pressure to force water into the coffee.

A perfectly balanced espresso shot is something you should just drink. What about the taste? The taste? A shot of espresso must not just be strong, but also have a well-balanced flavor and a distinct flavor profile beneath the shiny crema.


A latte is a drink with steaming milk, espresso and the foam layer on top. The latte is made up of 1/3 espresso and 1/3 steamed milk. There is also a thin layer of foam over the top.

A latte must have a specific type of foam. The milk should be able to create an almost "wet-paint" kind of texture, which baristas refers to as microfoam. It isn't easy to achieve this texture without the steamer. We'll demonstrate how you can achieve this using different tools available to you.


An Americano, also known as a Caffe Americano, is an espresso drink that uses hot espresso and water. The drink is made with one or two shots espresso, and different ratios of water. The strong espresso roast is reduced to make a drip coffee. This may be the source of the name. Although it is not clear exactly where the term came from the term is believed by many to have originated during the 1970s. The strength of the coffee is similar to the characteristics of drip coffees.

Does an Americano have milk? Never. A true Americano does not include milk like a latte, cappuccino, or macchiato. While you can add milk, it is not the original recipe for this drink.

Espresso Macchiato

A caffe macchiato or espresso macchiato is an espresso shot made of espresso topped with frothed milk. Italian meaning "stained" macchiato translates to "stained". It refers to the milk foam added to the espresso. There are some reports that the macchiato was invented to help drink espresso late into the afternoon.

The other kind of macchiato is a latte macchiato. The latte macchiato is steam-cooked milk stained by a bit of espresso on top.


A cappuccino is an espresso drink consisting of steamed milk, milk foam and espresso. It's similar to a cappuccino and a latte (cafe latte) however the amount of steamed milk is different. Here's a comparison of one of the cappuccinos and a latte.

A cappuccino is composed of equal amounts of espresso, steaming milk, and foam ( 1/3 each).

A latte is comprised of 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steaming milk, and a thin layer of foam over it. This chart can assist you in understanding the concept!

The distinctions between these two drinks are subtle as is the taste.

According to the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano, the institution that regulates espresso, the ideal cappuccino cup has an elliptical bottom, with thick walls and is made of porcelain. The bottom of the cup is made of thicker material to improve heat retention. The traditional color of the cup is bright white for aesthetic reasons. The best cappuccino cups, however, are made from either porcelain, or from double wall tempered glass.

Flat White

Flat whites are drinks made of coffee that include espresso, steaming milk, as well as a layer of foam. This is similar to a cappuccino or latte, however it is a bit thinner over it. Coffee shops in the modern era often blur the distinction between these three kinds of coffee drinks. Generally, the major differences between a flat white vs cappuccino vs latte:

Flat White has a 1/4 inch of microfoam at its top. The steamed milk is stretched 20-25percent.

Medium-frothy Latte, with 3/8 inch of microfoam over the top. The milk is stretched 25 to 35 percent.

Cappuccino is not frothy, but it is foamy. It's got around 1/2 inch of microfoam in the its top. The milk that has been steamed is stretched out the most of all three at approximately 30-50%..

Mocha Latte

Mocha, also known as mocha latte also known as mocha is a drink that resembles mocha which is made using espresso and steam milk. It's usually flavored with chocolate syrup. There's lots of variation about what constitutes a mocha. It's up to the barista! This drink can be made with varying amounts of espresso shots, a variety of steamed milk, as well as quantities of chocolate syrup. Starbucks culture has seen mocha become more popular since the 1980s.

Red Eye Coffee

Red eye coffee is a coffee drink that combines drip coffee and two or more shots of espresso. This name is likely to refer to a trip called "red eye," which is an overnight flight on an airline that leaves passengers with tired eyes.

There are a few variations on the name of the drink, which are referring to the number of espresso shots: red eye is 1 shot while black eye takes 2 shots, and dead eye or green eye is three shots. If you purchase it at the coffee shop you can just order "red eye coffee" with the option of indicating how many espresso shots would like. Again, this cup contains drip coffee and 1, 2 or 3 espresso shots, depending on the desired strength.