Expert Recipe: How to Make a Shaken Espresso

Coffee & Espresso Expert Janelle Gowgiel lays out step-by-step instructions on how to make a shaken espresso and gives alternative recipes for your own homemade drink.

Cups of espresso on a table

Photo by Matt Hoffman

The Starbucks Shaken Espresso Drinks have become the latest coffee trend caffeinating us all by storm. This new drink is a popular alternative to cold brew and iced coffee and can be made easily at home! You can even customize it to your preferred strength, sweetness, and milkiness.

What Is a Shaken Espresso?

It's pretty much what it sounds like! By shaking espresso shots with ice cubes and some sweetener (the easiest way is using a cocktail shaker, just like a bartender shakes cocktails!), you cool the espresso down fast and combine the flavors of the espresso with the sweetener, without watering it down too much. Shake until it's cold to the touch, and pour the drink over more ice with whatever milk (or alternative milk) you prefer. And there you have it—a fast, tasty, iced drink!

What's the Difference Between a Shaken Espresso, an Iced Latte, an Iced Espresso, and a Cold Brew?

Iced coffee in a glass

Photo by Demi DeHerrera

While all of these cold beverages may be found on the menu of your favorite café, what's the difference, and which one do you want to order? First, let's look at what is inside each of these drinks, and how they are made.

  • Cold Brew: coffee brewed cold (either at room temperature or in the fridge) and long (typically, at least 12 hours). This results in very intense (and highly caffeinated!) cold coffee that tends to be mellow and smooth in flavor.
  • Iced Latte: An iced latte is made by pouring shots of espresso over cold milk and ice. Sometimes, the flavors of the espresso are lost when it's been poured directly over the milk and ice, both melting the ice and changing the flavors of the espresso.
  • Iced Espresso: (aka espresso over ice) pouring hot espresso over a cup of ice. While this is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get iced coffee, it can negatively change the flavor of your espresso due to the cold "shock" of the ice, and all the water that comes from the ice getting hit by that hot coffee.
  • Shaken Espresso: espresso and sweetener shaken vigorously and briefly with ice, and then pouring the mixture through a strainer (to prevent the partially melted ice to come out) over more ice and milk. Shaking the espresso with sweetener aerates it while simultaneously cooling it down rapidly, without letting too much ice melt to water down your drink.

Takeaways? Cold brew is brewed entirely differently than iced lattes, iced espresso, and shaken espressos, which have similar ingredients but are combined in a different way. While this difference might seem minimal, it can have big effects on flavor. Even the difference between a stir and a shake can be significant—just ask a mixologist perfecting their cocktails!

Iced espresso can have a harsh and bitter taste from the shock of pouring hot espresso over ice, and you can easily lose all the lovely nuance and flavor from your espresso beans. While adding espresso to an iced latte can result in slightly better-tasting espresso (as the cold milk can buffer the hot espresso before it touches the freezing ice), your drink can still end up disappointingly watery. Especially if you have great coffee beans that you love the flavor of and want to maintain in an iced drink, you should give this shaken espresso recipe a spin.

What Do I Need to Make a Shaken Espresso at Home?

Photo by Arina Ertman

You'll need a few key ingredients and some equipment—but even if you don't have these exact items, there are some substitutes that will do in a pinch.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz shot of espresso (from an espresso machine or a Nespresso). Unfortunately, brewed coffee is already too diluted—it just won't taste the same as espresso!
  • 2 tsp sweetener of choice, or to taste. Simple syrup, vanilla syrup, brown sugar, stevia, honey, etc. will all work.
  • Lots of ice cubes. The bigger the ice cube the better! This minimizes dilution because a large ice cube won't melt as fast. (Try putting several large cubes rather than lots of small ones.) Use enough to fill the shaker more than halfway full.
  • Your favorite milk or milk alternative, to taste

Equipment

  • Espresso machine
  • Cocktail shaker (with strainer attachment) or a large mason jar with a tight lid and a strainer
  • Tall glass
  • Milk frother with "cold" setting to make cold foam (optional)

Recipe for a Shaken Espresso

Here are your step-by-step instructions for this customizable shaken espresso recipe: 1. Brew your espresso directly on top of the sweetener you'd like to use, to ensure it's all melted into the espresso shots before it hits the ice. If using honey or brown sugar, you may need to give the espresso a little swirl or stir to make sure the sweetener is entirely melted. 2. While your espresso is brewing, fill your cocktail shaker with ice (remember—big cubes and at least halfway full!), and fill your tall glass with ice cubes. 3. Pour the sweetened espresso over the ice in your cocktail shaker, immediately secure the lid, and start shaking! Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is cold to the touch (about 15-30 seconds). 4. Immediately pour the liquid out of the shaker, through the strainer, and into your glass with ice. 5. Top with your milk of choice. If you'd like cold foam, then froth your milk with your milk frother on the "cold" setting until you've reached your desired frothiness! 6. Enjoy your refreshing drink!

Starbucks Copycat Recipe Variations

Try out the following ingredient combinations in the above recipe for a homemade drink straight off the menu!

Iced Shaken Espresso

  • 2oz espresso
  • 1 tbsp simple syrup (or to taste)
  • Lots of ice cubes
  • 2-3 oz 2% milk (or to taste)

Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso

  • 2oz espresso
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar (or to taste)
  • Lots of ice cubes
  • 2-3 oz oat milk (or to taste)

Iced Chocolate Almond Milk Shaken Espresso

  • 2oz espresso
  • 2 tsp simple syrup
  • Lots of ice cubes
  • 2-3 oz chocolate almond milk (or to taste)

To make your own chocolate almond milk, combine 2 tbsp of liquid chocolate with 2-3 oz almond milk, and whisk until all chocolate has dissolved.

Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso

  • 2oz espresso
  • 1 tbsp toasted vanilla syrup (or to taste)
  • Lots of ice cubes
  • 2-3 oz oat milk (or to taste)

We hope you enjoy these cold and refreshing drinks! Try out the above recipes and customize to your exact preferences. Need help getting that perfect espresso or finding the right tools to make cold foam? Talk to a Curated Coffee & Espresso Expert today to get individualized picks for your exact needs.

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Written By
I've worked in the coffee industry for over 5 years, including working as a barista at a specialty coffee shop in Oregon and co-managing a coffee shop in Massachusetts. As the manager overseeing equipment and operations, I have experience with commercial espresso equipment--including maintenance, re...

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