A Guide to Espresso-based Drinks

A Guide to Espresso-based Drinks

So you've mastered the art of making espresso on your home machine. Now that perfect espresso shot can be used as the basis for other popular beverages. In this post, we explore some of the more conventional espresso-based drinks.

First, a few generally accepted definitions or terminology. An espresso is a 1 ounce coffee beverage made from 7 to 9 grams (0.25-0.32 ounces) of ground beans (ground to an average of 325 microns), brewed at 9 bar of pressure (135 psi) at approximately 90 degrees C (200 degrees F) for 20 – 30 seconds.

A ristretto (literally, a “restricted” shot) uses only about half as much water for a shorter amount of time – a very concentrated espresso shot. The resulting beverage is sweeter and more flavorful than a full shot because none of the bitter elements of the coffee are rendered into the cup.

A lungo is a long pull of espresso brewed using more water and more time resulting in 1.5 ounces of beverage.

A doppio or double espresso is two espresso shots combined into one cup resulting in a beverage that is more concentrated than a single shot. It can still be made ristretto or lungo.

With that out of the way, here are some popular espresso-based drinks:

  • Espresso Macchiato – A single (or double) shot of espresso with a touch of foamed milk. Macchiato means stained or spotted; the espresso is stained with foam.
  • Cappuccino – Equal parts espresso, steamed milk and frothed milk. The milk should appear smooth and shiny with no visible bubbles. The milk and foam should be blended to create a thick texture. Optional garnishes include a sprinkle of ground chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, powdered cocoa, or vanilla powder. A dry cappuccino has more foam, while a wet cappuccino has more milk.
  • Caffe Creme – One shot of espresso with one ounce of heavy cream.
  • Caffe Latte – A ratio of 1/3 espresso, 2/3 hot milk, a thin layer of foam. Lattes are often flavored with sweet Italian syrups like hazelnut and almond.
  • Caffe Mocha – A ratio of 1/3 espresso, 1/6 cocoa, 1/3 milk, 1/6 foamed milk. Cocoa is the first layer, then you pull a double espresso shot. Then steam the milk and add.
  • Caffe Americano – A double shot of espresso pulled long atop about 6 ounces of hot water.
With these recipes as a beginning, try experimenting with your own concoctions.  Which are your favorites?