Last Updated on August 13, 2021
Alright, so you’re new to your espresso machine. Sure, when you go to the coffee house, you probably order a cappuccino or a latte, but now that you’re making espresso at home, how in the world do you get those tasty coffee house drinks at home? Want a caramel macchiato or an Americano? Well never fear, we have the answers for you.
Your espresso machine, especially if it has a milk steamer/frother can do so much more than make a cup of espresso. The reality is that most espresso drinks really aren’t that hard to make. The real challenge is making a good cup of espresso. Once you have that down, the rest is a breeze.
Espresso: A Solid Foundation For All of Your Favorites
Espresso isn’t just coffee. To make an authentic espresso you need a couple of specific items. First an espresso machine. Espresso machines use high pressure to force hot water through a compacted puck of fine ground coffee. The keys here are hot water which extracts the oils and tannins in the grounds and the pressure. If you aren’t using pressure to make your espresso, all you really have is coffee.
Second, fine ground coffee beans. No, they don’t have to be dark roast or espresso roast to make a great cup of espresso. Any bean you have on hand will do. We recommend experimenting with different beans to find the ones that make the espresso you enjoy the most.
Here’s a Breakdown of 7 Amazing Types of Espresso Beverages
1. The Double or Doppio
This one is for the experienced espresso drinkers. The doppio is a full 6 ounces of straight up espresso. If you really need a kick to get your day started, this is the drink for you.
2. The Americano
Or caffe Americano. This drink is what many “Americans” enjoy at coffee houses in Europe, thus the name. This espresso drink is a single shot of espresso with a bit of hot water added. This gives you more coffee, and a lighter flavor than a single shot of espresso.
To make your own Americano, start with an espresso shot (or two), then add hot water. A 2:1 ratio of water to coffee is generally the accepted blend. Use more or less depending on your taste preference.
This is the quintessential espresso drink. In France they call it a Café Crème. Cappuccino drink is a third espresso, a third steamed milk, and then topped with a dollop of foamed milk for the final third.
This is one of the most popular espresso drinks, and you’ll find them everywhere if you’re traveling in Europe. We like to top our espresso with a bit of cocoa powder or cinnamon for a little extra flavor.
4. Café Latte
This delight has a number of names, depending on where in the world you are. Café Latte is Italian, Café au lait is French and if you’re in Spain a Café con leche. In America, we just call it a latte. This is by far one of the most popular breakfast coffees in Europe.
It is espresso and steamed milk in a 3:1 ratio, usually served in a bowl or wide, shallow mug. If you ever watch these being made, especially in Europe, the coffee and steamed milk are poured into the mug at the same time, for even mixing. Then it is topped with a thick layer of foam. To make at home, remember the ratio, 1/3 espresso, 2/3 milk and a little foam.
5. The Macchiato
This is a lighter version of the latte. A macchiato is a larger glass that is filled halfway with steamed milk. The espresso is then slowly poured over the milk.
This creates a neat effect where the milk on the bottom is faintly colored while the top of the milk has a robust brown or tan color. The Macchiato is then topped with a thin layer of foamed milk.
This drink is larger than the Latte, and has more milk, so if you’re not a fan of strong coffee, a macchiato is the answer for you.
6. The Flat White
This drink is kind of like a latte, but smaller. It originated in Australia, so it is definitely different from European style espresso drinks. To make a flat white, you’ll need a single shot of espresso, that is topped with steamed milk.
This isn’t a big drink, and the mix is nearly a 1:1 ratio of espresso and milk. Flat Whites are served in a small, 5- or 7-ounce cup, and have a distinctive sweet and creamy taste, but also have the kick of the espresso.
7. The Mocha
The humble mocha is probably one of the most popular espresso drinks. Now just to be clear, a mocha is not the same as Mocha Java. Mocha Java is a blend of Ethiopian and Indonesian coffees.
It is a type of coffee not an espresso drink. If you want mocha, you’ll be getting an espresso drink that is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 unsweetened hot chocolate and 1/3 foamed milk. Lots of people like mochas because they have a little more flavor than just plain espresso and steamed milk. You’ll often get a mocha that is topped with cocoa powder or cinnamon for a little extra zing.
There are our seven favorite espresso drinks that you can easily make at home. One more that we’d like to mention, simply because it is so easy and delightful is an espresso con panna.
This is simply a shot of espresso topped with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream. It is a creamy yet bold option that is perfect for an after dinner drink.
To be fair, there are so many different ways that you can use espresso in hot beverages. Or even cold. We’ve mentioned seven of the most popular options, and they are all hot beverages. But don’t forget that you can add ice to any of these drinks for a chilled option on a warm summer day.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations of espresso, milk and foam. You’ll soon find out that it’s easy to make Starbucks like espresso if you follow the examples we’ve put out. You’ll never need to go back to the coffee house again.