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The Most Popular Espresso Drinks - A Beginner's Guide

Dec 24

Espresso drinks are coffee-based specialty drinks that comprise at least one or two shots of espresso "pulled" from an espresso maker.

The most sought-after espresso drinks are the Cappuccino, Latte (Caffe Latte), and Mocha (Caffe Mocha), however there are many others and each has their own particular favorite.

We've created a list that includes some of the most loved types of espresso drinks. There's everything from the good old latte to the elegant macchiato, and even an espresso drink thrown with. Maybe you need a refresher on your coffee drink types...but If you're looking to make them at home go to the recipe and learn more! These recipes are part of our Barista Series where we teach you how to make coffeehouse-quality drinks at home. Are you ready to start drinking?


The main ingredient of each drink below, let's begin by defining espresso. Espresso is a method for making coffee. This is a technique of making coffee using a small amount (or close to boiling) of water, and freshly ground coffee under pressure.

Coffee is ground to an extremely fine powder, and then made into the shape of a "puck" prior to being put into the espresso machine. The machine is engaged and releases water at a very stable temperature using a mechanical pump. In order to force the coffee through, the espresso machine uses 9 bars of pressure to fill the area above the espresso puck.

At its core, the perfect shot of espresso is meant to sip alone. How is the taste? Strong, of course--the 1:2 ratio of coffee to water is significantly less discolored than a standard cup filter coffee (closer to the 1:15 ratio). Espresso shots should not just be strong, but also have a well-balanced flavor appearance beneath the glossy crema.

Espresso is served in small cups named demitasses, which holds around 2 -3 fluid ounces, the volume of a double, or a triple espresso shot. The best espresso cups are made from porcelain, or double wall tempered glass. However, double wall tempered glass is a great alternative, that gains more and more popularity.


Cappuccino is an espresso beverage which includes milk foam that has been steamed, milk, and espresso. It's very similar to a cappuccino and a latte (cafe latte) but the amount of steamed milk differs. Here's a breakdown of cappuccino and latte

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

1/3 espresso, 2/3 steam milk, and a thin layer of foam comprise the components of a latte. Here's a chart that breaks it down!

The flavors and variations in the beverages are subtle.

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.


A latte could be described as a cup of coffee which includes espresso, steamed milk, and a layer foam. The latte has 1/3 espresso and 1/3 steamed milk. It also has a thin layer foam on the top.

A latte must have a specific type of foam. The milk should have a texture that is similar to microfoam. It's not easy to get that look without steamers. We'll explain how to do it using different tools that you might have.

Latte is served in wide cups, which give the barista more space to create the latte art. The wide cup also mitigates the issue with the foamed milk, which is not desirable when creating latte art. The best latte cups for home baristas are made from thick porcelain, or double walled borosilicate glass.

Flat White

Flat whites are drinks made of coffee which include espresso, steamed milk and a layer of foam. This is similar to a cappuccino and lattes, but it is a bit thinner over it. Modern coffee shops often blur the distinction between the three different types of coffee drinks. The main differences between a flat white and cappuccino vs latte:

Flat White is the least creamy, having about 1/4 inch microfoam at the top. The steaming milk can be stretched between 20 and 25 percent.

The latte is medium-frothy with 3/8-inch of microfoam at the top. The milk that is steamed is stretched 25-35percent.

Cappuccino is supposed to be creamy, but not foamy. It should be topped with about 1/2 inch of microfoam on the top. The milk that is steamed that is 30 to 50 percent, is by far the most stretched of all three.


An Americano is also known as a Caffe Americano, is an espresso drink made from hot espresso and water. The drink can be prepared with just one or two shots espresso and different ratios of water. The strong espresso roast is then diluted to create a drip coffee. This could be the cause of the name. The exact origin of the term is murky and is believed to be a relic of the 1970s. "Americano" means American in Italian or Spanish which refers to the coffee's strength being closer than a drip of American origin.

Is an Americano allowed to consume milk? Never. A true Americano does not include milk like a latte, cappuccino, or macchiato. It is possible to include milk if you'd like but it's not the real version of this drink.

Espresso Macchiato

A caffe macchiato or espresso macchiato is a shot espresso with milk frothed. Italian for "stained" macchiato translates to "stained". It refers to the milk foam that is added to the espresso. According to some sources the macchiato was invented as a way of drinking espresso in the afternoon.

The other kind of macchiato, also known as a latté macchiato. The latte macchiato is steaming milk that's stained with a bit of espresso on top.

Mocha Latte

Mocha, also referred to as mocha latte also known as mocha, is a drink with a similar flavor that is made by steaming espresso milk. It's typically flavored with chocolate syrup. The barista has the ability to create many variations of what constitutes a mocha. Mochas can be created with varying amounts of espresso shots, a variety of steamed milk and quantities of chocolate syrup. Mocha became popular with Starbucks culture in the 1980's in America.

Red Eye Coffee

The coffee known as red eye is a combination of drip coffee as well as two or more shots of espresso. The name could refer to taking a "red eye flight," an air traveler's flight that is overnight, causing the passengers to experience tired red eyes.

There are a few variations to the name of this drink that are referring to the number of espresso shots. For example, red eye is one shot, black eye is 2 shots, and dead eye or green eye is three shots. If you buy it from an espresso shop it is possible to make a purchase of "red eye coffee" with the option of specifying the number of espresso shots you prefer. The coffee contains: drip coffee and 1, two or three espresso shots, depending on the strength desired.