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The Ultimate Guide To Every Espresso Drink

March 4, 2017

Are you a coffee noob wondering just what on earth one of those ‘cappuccino’ things are?

Or maybe you’re holidaying in sunny Italy wondering why this ‘doppio’ thing is just a big espresso?

Perhaps you’re confused at your Aussie friend who orders a ‘long black’ but gives you a dirty look when you hand him an Americano?

Answer yes to any of the above and you’re in the right place. The eternal question ‘what coffee should I order?’ will be answered right here. This is the ultimate, all-inclusive guide of every damn thing you can make with an espresso machine.*

*Might not be all-inclusive.

My personal favorites are #10, #12 and #16 if you can make it that far, I know it’s a pretty long list! Also, I’ve included some terminology at the end in case you’re just dying to know what a ‘Dry Soy Skinny Capo’ is.

Why Are There So Many Espresso Drinks?

I was brought up with the idea that coffee was a drink like tea. Except it was brown and thick and bitter and smelled bad. I was a lot younger then, but the image in my mind of coffee being a tea-sized drink that you just added a bit of milk to took a long time to change.

sign with espresso drinks

I remember very well my first time in an Italian-style coffee shop. I asked something like, “Which one just gives you normal coffee?”

One order for an americano later, I was completely disgusted to discover it was served black. No milk! Marching back to the counter to demand they make it properly was one of my more naive moments. I did wonder though… which coffee is the best? Why are there so many choices? What’s the point?

You can think of espresso like your favorite spirit – whiskey or gin, perhaps. Some people like to drink it neat, and it could even be said that’s the purest way of enjoying it. But in essence, it’s something to build around. An ingredient. One that can be brought to life with a dash of lime or a spot of tonic water.

If you’re Italian, you could have different coffees throughout the day. Cappuccino for breakfast, a Macchiato in the afternoon followed by a post-dinner Espresso. Kinda beats just getting brewed coffee three times a day, right?


Contents

1. Espresso
2. Doppio (Tripplo)
3. Americano
4. Cappuccino
5. Latte
6. Mocha
7. Macchiato
8. Caramel Macchiato
9. Affogato
10. Flat White
11. Long Black
12. Ristretto
13. Lungo
14. Breve
15. Con Panna
16. Cortado


Poster coffee espresso in vintage style drawing on kraft

1. Espresso

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso

The classic, the original, the… Espresso.

Pour the espresso into a tiny cup and you’ve finished. Sit back and enjoy the full taste of super strong espresso coffee. For many, it’s a love or hate thing. Either way, when it comes to coffee, this is as raw as it gets.

Poster coffee espresso in vintage style drawing on kraft

2. Doppio (Tripplo)

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso (2)

Like espresso a lot? Get twice as much by ordering a doppio.

Espresso shots, two of them. Often referred to as a ‘double espresso’, doing a disservice to the original Italian. For those who love their coffee strong and want more of it, this hits the spot.

Extra points if you want three shots of espresso, called a Tripplo. Bear in mind, you might get a funny look ordering this anywhere outside of Italy.

Poster coffee americano in vintage style drawing on kraft

3. Americano

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso
– hot water

The closest cousin of a traditional brewed coffee and so called because it was favored by the American soldiers in World War 2. Americano.

Espresso in a large cup and filled with hot water. Adding water to espresso coffee weakens it but makes the taste more palatable to some. A smart choice for those who are used to brewed coffee, add a little milk and you might not even be drinking espresso at all!

Poster coffee cappuccino in vintage style drawing on kraft

4. Cappuccino

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso
– steamed milk
– frothed milk

The popular favorite of artistic baristas and guys with trendy mustaches. Cappuccino.

Espresso covered with equal parts steamed milk and then frothed milk. Tradition has it that cappuccino is a breakfast drink, and ordering one after 11 am will get you some strange looks in certain parts of Europe. Order a Dry Cappuccino to remove the steamed milk and just have frothy milk. Vice versa for a Wet Cappuccino.

Poster coffee latte in vintage style drawing  on kraft

5. Latte

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso
– steamed milk
– a touch of frothed milk

For the milk lovers, the sweet tasting coffee treat that is the Latte.

Espresso coffee mixed with mostly steamed milk and a thin layer of frothy milk on the surface. The drink that created latte art – the craft of chiseling cute designs in the foam of a coffee. A somewhat dubious creative endeavor, but a lovely drink nonetheless!

Poster coffee mocha in vintage style drawing on kraft

6. Mocha

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso
– chocolate (usually cocoa powder or syrup)
– steamed milk

Chocaholics anonymous – we’ve found your coffee order! The Mocha.

An espresso shot that sits under a layer of chocolate syrup which is under a layer of steamed milk – the prettiest of caramel rainbows! The Mocha is a beverage born for customization. Happy additions to the drink range from a dusting of cinnamon to a puffy marshmallow placed on top.

7. Macchiato

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso
– tiny amount of foamed milk

A Macchiato is an espresso shot served in an espresso cup with a tiny dot of milk added. The idea is that the small amount of milk moderates, rather than overwhelms, the strong espresso taste while adding a touch of sweetness.

The name Macchiato comes from baristas needing to show the waiters the difference between this drink and a normal espresso – a tiny drop of milk doesn’t change the appearance too much! Macchiato meaning ‘stained’ or ‘spotted’ in Italian.

Poster coffee caramel macchiato in vintage style drawing on kraft

8. Caramel Macchiato

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso
– warm milk
– whipped cream
– caramel

Whatever you do, don’t confuse this with the macchiato! This sweet coffee drink is a popular Starbuck’s creation that has little basis in Italian culture. The Caramel Macchiato.

Perhaps closer to a dessert than a beverage, this drink is well known for its pretty pattern of criss-cross caramel.

Poster coffee glace in vintage style drawing on kraft

9. Affogato (or Glace)

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso
– gelato or ice cream

A scoop of vanilla ice cream and a shot of espresso – the Affogato. A match made in heaven? There’s only one way to find out…

If you’re wondering whether this is really a coffee drink and not just a dessert, you’re not alone. For reference, the restaurants and cafes in Italy will categorize it as a dessert.

Poster coffee flat white in vintage style drawing on kraft

10. Flat White

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso
– stretched milk

The influx of Italian immigrants to Australia after World War 2 brought a huge boon to coffee culture and it also brought the Flat White. (That’s my second World War 2 reference now, am I getting a bit carried away?)

At first glance, the Flat White is the same as a Latte but there are a couple of key differences. A Flat White is smaller – with the same amount of espresso but less milk – which makes the coffee stronger. The milk should be prepared slightly differently as well, using a technique that produces what we call ‘stretched milk’.

Photo by Alpha

11. Long Black

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso
– hot water

So called to be different from the Australasian name for Espresso, the Short Black, this coffee is very similar to an Americano but is prepared slightly differently.

A Short Black is the name for an espresso down under. It follows that a Long Black is an Americano-type drink – although there’s a subtle difference.

To make a Long Black, the hot water must be poured in the cup first and the espresso is added after. It might seem pointless, but you’d be surprised at how vocal some Antipodeans can get if you tell them it’s just the same as an Americano! The idea is with a Long Black the espresso retains the crema that will just sit at the top of the drink.

Photo by Chris Pavlik

12. Breve

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso
– half and half

The alternative name for the Breve – the Half and Half – gives more of a clue about its contents: espresso and a mixture of half milk and half cream. A quaint alternative to the Latte that originated in the US.

13. Ristretto

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso (short pull)

We’re getting into connoisseur territory now – Ristretto.

It’s an espresso shot that is pulled for half the amount of time but still with the same amount of coffee. It follows that a Ristretto is about half the size of an Espresso.

The idea is that a Ristretto is the first half of a full extraction, giving the coffee a more concentrated flavor and a different balance of compounds. I recommend trying one at the same time as an espresso to really understand the difference.

14. Lungo

Photo by oothoth

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso (long pull)

The opposite of the Ristretto is the longer pull – a Lungo.

The name comes from the Italian for long. A Lungo is an espresso shot that is pulled for around double the amount of time but with the same amount of coffee. There will be a larger volume than the espresso shot.

A Lungo is less strong, but more bitter than an espresso. The Lungo should still be shorter than an Americano or a Long Black and should also have a distinctly different taste.

Photo by David Basanta

15. Con Panna

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso
– whipped cream

Another one for those with a sweet tooth. The creamy Con Panna.

Often known as a ‘Cafe Vienne’ in reference to its popularity in Austria, the Con Panna is super simple – espresso with whipped cream. Traditionally served in a tiny demitasse cup, this drink is one of the oldest known ways of serving coffee.

Photo by brent peters

16. Cortado

HOW IT IS MADE
– espresso
– warm milk

A Latin American favorite with a Spanish name. The Cortado.

Espresso coffee mixed with an equal amount of warm milk – not frothed or foamed. This is a hugely popular variation if you go to certain countries and completely unheard of in certain others. Travel to Spain or Portugal and you’ll see the Cortado everywhere!

Other Words You Can Use

Right, so you’ve got the basics down. You wander into your local happening coffee joint ready to impress the barista with your sick espresso knowledge but then disaster! The person in front of you, blue streak in the hair and plaid shirt and all that, orders a ‘Wet Skinny Soy Almond Cappo’ and causes you to flee in embarrassment. Never fear, I’m here to give you the lowdown on all those sneaky prefixes.

Solo/Triple/Quad – Most espresso drinks will typically be served with two shots of espresso. You can alter this by ordering a Solo or Single for one shot, a Triple for three shots and a Quad for four.

Cap/Capo – What some people call Cappuccinos because the extra half a second they save is extremely important to them I suppose.

Wet – Used to indicated you want more liquid and less foam. Often used with a Cappuccino to reduce its inherent foaminess, personally, I like to have my Capos wet.

Decaf – Short for ‘decaffeinated’, means you want it without the caffeine. It’s made from beans that have been processed to remove the caffeine at source, but bear in mind there will still be small but perceptible amounts of caffeine in your drink.

Dry – Contrasting with ‘Wet’, a drink that is asked for ‘Dry’ is going to have more foam and less liquid.

Half-Caf – A drink that is made from half normal espresso and half decaf. This one’s a bit of a mystery to me as I’ve heard about it but never seen anyone actually order it!

Almond – This is stating a preference for almond milk over cow’s milk, often for allergy reasons but also perhaps for health or taste reasons. By the way, while I’m updated this article in mid-2018 it looks like the FDA want to ban companies from calling this ‘milk’ and will instead have to refer to it as ‘almond based drink’ or something!

Soy – Similar to ‘Almond’ in that it’s simply substituting the normal milk for an alternative.

Skinny – This word means you want low-fat milk to be used, typically if you want to reduce the number of calories in your drink.

With Legs
– Used to mean you want it in a disposable, insulated cup, kind of like meaning ‘to go’.


What’s your favorite? Any I missed? Tell me in the comments.

Remember you can share this with your friends to show what a snob you are. Sorry, what a well-informed gentleman/lady you are.

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