Here’s a breakdown of popular types of espresso drinks and how to make them! From latte to macchiato, there’s something for everyone.
Calling all coffee lovers! Here’s a list of the most popular types of espresso drinks! We’ve got everything from the good old latte to the sophisticated macchiato–and even an espresso cocktail mixed in. Maybe you need a refresher on your coffee drink types…but if you want to make them at home, click over to the recipe to learn more! These recipes are part of our Barista Series where we teach you how to make coffeehouse-quality drinks at home. Ready to get drinking?
And now…the top types of espresso drinks (and how to make them!)
Did you know you can make a barista-quality cafe latte in the comfort of your own home? Yes, all you need is a few key tools and you can make this espresso drink that rivals your favorite coffeeshop. This latte comes out perfectly creamy and topped with frothy foam. It’s pretty simple, once you know a few tricks. (Also try our collection of Tea Latte Recipes!)
What's a latte? A latte is a coffee drink with espresso, steamed milk and a layer of foam on top. It has ⅓ espresso and 2/3 steamed milk, with a thin layer of foam on top.
What’s better than a great Americano coffee? Smooth out your espresso into a Caffe Americano, a type of espresso drink that’s tempered with a bit of hot water. Not only does it make the coffee drinking experience last a little longer, it smooths the bitter flavor into something altogether new. Here’s a tutorial for how to make an Americano!
What's an Americano? An Americano is an espresso drink made with hot water and espresso. The drink can be made with either one or two shots of espresso, and varying ratios of water (usually 2:1).
Here’s a type of espresso drink that’s like a lighter version of a latte: the Macchiato! It's ideal for when you want a jolt of caffeine without all the extra calories. There’s a certain coffee shop that’s tarnished the macchiato’s name by causing some confusion about what it really is. Here we’ll clear up those murky waters and show you how to make a macchiato…the classic way.
What's a macchiato? A caffè macchiato or espresso macchiato is a shot of espresso that’s topped with frothed milk.
Do you love a great cappuccino? This small but mighty cup is one of the most famous types of espresso drinks! It stars that perfect combination of steamed milk, espresso and frothy foam. Guess what: you can make a barista-quality cappuccino in the comfort of your own home. Here’s how to make a cappuccino that tastes like it’s straight out of an Italian café.
What's a cappuccino? A cappuccino is an espresso drink with steamed milk, milk foam and espresso. It has equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foam (⅓ each).
Flat white, latte, cappuccino: what’s the difference? These espresso coffee drinks are so similar that it’s hard to tell them apart. In fact, some coffeehouses have such slight differences that there’s not really a huge distinction! But as true coffee lovers, the flat white has our heart: it’s super smooth and still has enough foam for latte art.
What's a flat white? A flat white is a coffee drink with espresso, steamed milk and a layer of foam on top. It’s similar to a latte and cappuccino, but has a thinner layer of foam on top.
Want an impressive espresso drink that’s even better than a latte or a cappuccino? Try the Cortado, aka the Gibraltar! This Spanish coffee drink is intensely smooth, the ideal balance between espresso and milk. It’s rich, robust, and silky, each component bringing out the best in the other.
What is a cortado? The Cortado is an espresso drink of equal parts espresso and steamed milk. It's always the same volume: one doubleshot of espresso and 2 ounces milk.
What’s better than a warm, creamy mocha? The mocha is one of the most famous types of espresso drinks, possibly because it’s so rich and chocolaty it’s like drinking chocolate pudding. When you’re craving this chocolaty beverage, you can whip one up at home using just a few ingredients. This one comes out just like one at a coffee house: no shortcuts like hot chocolate mix or whipped cream.
What's a mocha? A mocha or mocha latte is a drink made with espresso and steamed milk that’s flavored with chocolate syrup.
What’s more refreshing than an iced latte? It’s no wonder this espresso drink is massively popular. The combination of bitter coffee balanced by delicate sweetness and creamy, frothed milk is an absolute delight. There’s no need to run to your favorite coffee shop for this one: it’s easy to make homemade!
What's an iced latte? An iced latte is a drink with espresso, milk and optional sweetener. (In contrast, iced coffee uses brewed coffee and optional milk. )
Want a cold espresso drink pick me up? Try Iced Espresso! This spin on iced coffee stars the bold, rich flavor of espresso. Drizzle in a little milk and a hint of simple syrup to balance out the flavor. It’s robust and beautifully refreshing: like a heightened take on your favorite iced coffee!
What's iced espresso? Iced espresso is espresso served over ice, often with milk. It’s similar to iced coffee, but it uses espresso instead of brewed coffee.
One of the best fancy espresso drinks? A Dirty Chai Latte! Adding a shot of espresso to masala chai gives it a jolt of caffeine. Even better, the bitterness of coffee is just right for rounding out the subtle creamy sweetness. Here’s our spin on this coffee house special: it’s just sweet enough, and spiced gently with a special blend of chai spices.
What's a dirty chai latte? A chai latte takes traditional masala chai, a milky spiced tea from India, and combines it with frothy steamed milk of a cafelatte. The “dirty” version of it adds a shot of espresso.
There are a few special tools you’ll need to make all types of espresso drinks at home. There’s a variety of options and price ranges. Here’s an overview:
Best choice: an espresso machine. You don’t need a countertop espresso machine to make any of the types of espresso drinks above. BUT, it’s much, much easier and they come out with better quality. The steamer steams milk to perfection, and you can pull the most beautiful creamy, espresso. Here’s the one we use: Countertop Espresso Machine.
Cheaper option:manual espresso maker. A less expensive option is a manual espresso maker. It’s portable and it makes good espresso. You’ll need to use it in combination with a milk frothing tool (below). Here’s the one we use: Manual espresso maker
Cheapest option: Aeropress. You can make espresso in an Aeropress coffee maker! It’s not nearly as good but it works. You’ll also need to get a milk frothing tool for lattes and cappuccinos. Here’s our recipe: Aeropress Espresso
Milk frothing tools: milk frother, French press or whisk. For the frothing: a handheld milk frother is just $10 and works great! If you already have a French press, it’s great for frothing. Or you can go simple and just use a whisk (not as effective but does the trick).
Steaming method (espresso machine): Place the milk in a pitcher. Hold the steaming wand just below the surface of the milk until it doubles in size. This makes foamy froth. Then, move the steaming wand lower and near the side of the pitcher to create a spiral vortex. This makes the silky smooth microfoam bubbles and wet-paint texture that’s characteristic of a latte. Steam until the milk reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit (use a thermometer or judge by when your hand can’t hold the pitcher for more than a few seconds).
OR, heat the milk to scalding and foam it (without espresso machine): Heat the milk to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot to the touch but not simmering. Measure with a food thermometer, or you can approximate by testing with your finger. Use a milk frother, French press or whisk to froth milk into small, even bubbles. For a latte you’ll want small bubbles and lightly thickened milk (if you’re using a milk frother, don’t go too far: you want the milk to mix in with the coffee so you don’t need too much froth). For the French press method, note that it’s useful to have at least 1 cup to have more milk to work with: this makes enough for 2 drinks. We highly recommend reading How to Froth Milk if this is your first time frothing. Wait 30 seconds to 1 minute to get the foam to incorporate into the milk and separate slightly (exact timing depends on your foaming method).
Serve: Tap the milk container on counter and swirl it to break down any large bubbles. Pour milk into center of the espresso, ending with light foam.
*Whole milk works best; milk that is a few weeks old may not froth. You can also use oat milk for a vegan latte. The milk frother works well; for the French press pump vigorously until frothy, about 25 times. Do not overwhip, as the foam will deflate!
Keywords: Espresso drinks
More coffee drinks
There are lots more ways to make coffee outside these espresso drinks! Here are some favorites: