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 espresso 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 double espresso (aka “Doppio”) is just that -- two espresso shots in one cup.
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 expect 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.