Latte, espresso, cappuccino – there are so many different types of coffee it becomes a language itself! That’s why this guide will explain the differences between 12 espresso based drinks and how they’re made. So no more getting confused at your local café.
What Are Espresso Based Drinks?
Espresso based drinks are coffees made with a coffee machine that share three common ingredients: espresso, steamed milk and foam.
The main differences between them are the proportions of espresso, steamed milk and foam within the beverage.
Some coffees have extra toppings added to them to complete the beverage, such as chocolate on a cappuccino. But in essence every espresso-based drink shares the same three ingredients.
Before we learn each espresso drink recipe, below you’ll find a quick guide explaining the differences between the most common types of coffee.
Espresso Drink Recipes
Use the index below to jump to the instructions on how to make the different types of coffee. If you need a refresher on how to make espresso or steam milk make sure to check out our guides.
Espresso (Short Black)
The espresso (aka “short black”) is the foundation and the most important part to every espresso based drink. So much so that we’ve written a guide on how to make the perfect espresso shot. But for this post we are keeping it simple.
Double Espresso (Doppio)
A short macchiato is similar to an espresso but with a dollop of steamed milk and foam to mellow the harsh taste of an espresso. You will find that baristas in different countries make short macchiatos differently. But the traditional way of making a short macchiato is as follows.
A long macchiato is the same as a short macchiato but with a double shot of espresso. The same rule of thirds applies in the traditionally made long macchiato.
Barista Tip: The key to making three layers is to place the dollop of steamed milk and foam on top of the espresso and then gently turning the cup clockwise a few times to mix the milk and espresso.
A ristretto is an espresso shot that is extracted with the same amount of coffee but half the amount of water. The end result is a more concentrated and darker espresso extraction.
Long Black (Americano)
A long black (aka “americano”) is hot water with an espresso shot extracted on top of the hot water.
Barista Tip: Make sure you back-wash your portafilter before making a long black, otherwise you will find bitter grinds from your coffee grinder floating in your coffee.
A café latte, or “latte” for short, is an espresso based drink with steamed milk and micro-foam added to the coffee. This coffee is much sweeter compared to an espresso due to the steamed milk.
Barista Tip: In the USA it is common to use a cup instead of a tumbler glass for a latte.
A cappuccino is similar to a latte. However the key difference between a latte and cappuccino is that a cappuccino has more foam and chocolate placed on top of the drink. Further a cappuccino is made in a cup rather than a tumbler glass. To make a decent cappuccino you need to follow the below steps.
A flat white is a coffee primarily made by coffee machines in Australia and New Zealand. It is made the same as a cappuccino except it does not have any foam or chocolate on top.
A piccolo latte is a café latte made in an espresso cup or small tumbler glass. This means it has a very strong but mellowed down espresso taste thanks to the steamed milk and micro foam within it. You can make a piccolo latte with either an espresso shot or a ristretto shot.
A mocha is a mix between a cappuccino and a hot chocolate. It is made by putting mixing chocolate powder with an espresso shot and then adding steamed milk and micro-foam into the beverage.
An affogato is a simple and tasty coffee perfect for dessert or during summer. It is made by placing one big scope of vanilla ice cream in a single or double shot of espresso.
Barista Tip: If you feel like an Irish kick add a shot of Frangelico liqueur into the mix.
A magic coffee is a lesser known type of coffee only found in the cafes of Melbourne, Australia. A magic is made in a cup with a double ristretto, then filled with steam milk with little bit of foam. It should also be served on the cooler side (48 celsius / 118 fahrenheit) as it has more hot coffee.
Now you know what coffee type to order!
Hopefully this guide has been helpful. If I have missed any coffee, or want me to add any to the list, please let me know in the comments below!
In the image, the top two layers in latte are same !
Same problem with mocha.
the very of the image is not a top layer, it is the space between the milk and the rim of the cup.
Ah ! makes sense.
I created from 4 to 6 layers coffees. Have photos on Instagram
Your definition of Americano is incorrect. The shot of espresso comes first otherwise it’s just a Black Coffee with the coffee froth on top. Cappuccino is not specific enough. It’s not supposed to come with chocolate powder on top, an the foam needs to draw a circle on top to mimic the monks’ haircut (cappuccino was created by a monk )
Making an Americano the way you suggest would burn the espresso shot, the hot water should always go in first! Lest the Americano taste burnt and bitter
If the water is too hot it will burn the coffee either way, Both the shot & the water need to be at the correct temp (NOT Boiling!)
It is correct for a Long Black, but an Americano is not the same as a Long Black. Americanos are done the other way around, hot water on shot of espresso.
Some people separate Americano and long black and they put the coffee shot in first for the Americano and on top for the Long Black. My personal view is it is pointless and to me, as pointed to in the article they are the same. I always, as taught 15 years ago, put the hot water in first and the espresso shots on the top this gives a much better look to the Americano. I keep hearing this thing about burning or scalding the coffee, even when people are talking about instant coffee, and this is incorrect because the water that goes onto the coffee beans happens in the machine and the water in the machine should be set at between 92 and 96 deg so you are merely pouring hot water onto the extracted coffee flavour and it will not burn, obviously coffee made cooler does taste better, but unless the machine is set wrong it should never be made too hot
Hello damsel how are you doing there today ? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a20eca16644142c06e39500b8026354e4531313e30e160f2f552cde513bbf986.jpg
As if you’re talking abut coffee like it’s a good thing. Green tea is a good thing. And it’s easy to drink green tea instead. You just have to not be a pathetic masochist.
I’m sorry what? Almost everything is good for you so long as you have a moderate amount of it. In fact, three coffees day can help prevent heart attacks in the future. Yes green tea is good for you, but you might as well be a health freak to only have green tea.
Your name doesn’t help you at all either.
Wow. I don’t remember writing this comment, but it looks quite judgemental and dumb. I take it all back. I won’t be changing my name though.
Don’t worry, that happens to me all the time, I always see replies to comments I didn’t know happened. Your name makes it funnier to me to be absolutely honest.
Yea, and we can all be dumb and judgemental sometimes. In these moments, I feel I should take off my Mr Offensington hat and wear my Mr Humbleton hat. And now I’m off for a coffee…
thankz a lot, I had a lot of fun while reading this. From:Malysia
I really enjoyed learning this too!
These are all espresso drinks, and all use the SAME KIND OF COFFEE, ie Dark Italian Roast very finely ground & pressure extracted.
affogato sounds really nice!
Hi am new here but I want to learn more about coffee and become a good barista
Hello!! I´m Ellen from Argentina and I have a question. Here, we have a coffee that it´s called “lagrima”, literally means “tear”. It´s a coffee with just a drop of milk, as if the milk were “crying”. Do you have something like this? and if so, what do you call it? I cannot find something simmilar anywhere!!! Thank you very much!! Ellen
it’s called “cortado”
Macchiato minus the foam
The nearest is a Macchiato, this I would do a double Ristretto with about a spoonful of foam on the top
Can you add Cafe Cortado? It falls somewhere between your definition of a cappuccino and a flat white. Also, here’s a couple of typos if you want to fix them:
“is made the same as a cappuccino expect it does not” <--"except" "An affogato is a simple dessert coffee that is treat during"<--"a treat"?
Your definition of Flat White is incorrect. It is a Long Black with about 1 cm of unfrothed milk on top. Like a cup of tea with milk, but coffee instead of tea.
nope.flat white is espresso with milk and much less foam on top than latte…it doesnt have water in it.
My husband having a heart problem recently and he need to cut out the milk in his coffee.
I always have difficulty to order coffee for him. What he wants, 3/4 of coffee and 1/4 of milk without foam.
Could you pls help me with this?
Over this… Can you explain what types of syrups are used and how pls 🙈
Now i can choose the right one as per my taste 😋