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!)
Espresso making tools
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).
Here’s how to make a latte at home! This cafe latte has the best creamy body and frothy milk: it tastes even better than a coffee shop. (For the other espresso drink recipes: scroll up!)
- 2 espresso shots (2 ounces)
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) fresh whole milk*
- Make the espresso: Use an espresso machine or manual espresso maker to make two shots of espresso and pour it into a mug (or try our Aeropress Espresso).
- 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!
- Category: Drink
- Method: Espresso
- Cuisine: Coffee
Keywords: Espresso drinks
More coffee drinks
There are lots more ways to make coffee outside these espresso drinks! Here are some favorites:
- Cold Brew Coffee Dark and chilled to perfection!
- How to Make Pourover Coffee The best way we’ve found to make a stellar cup of pour over.
- How to Make Iced Coffee Here’s a killer iced coffee recipe that’s better than a coffee shop…and cheaper.
- Chemex Iced Coffee This Chemex iced coffee recipe takes just 10 minutes and doesn’t even require chilling!
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.