Knowing Your Macchiato from Your Mocha: The Different Types of Espresso Drinks

Ever been confused by the differences between all the various espresso drinks? Coffee & Espresso Expert Matthew W. breaks it all down so you can find your favorite.

A man pours steamed milk into a small ceramic mug and creates "latte art."

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

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Since its inception in the very early 20th century, espresso has become a worldwide phenomenon. Espresso originated in Italy, and the first patented espresso machine was crafted by Luigi Bezzera in 1901. In 1903, Desiderio Pavoni purchased the patent, and by 1905, Pavoni was producing the first machines based on the Bezzera patent. By 1927, these machines found their way to the U.S.!

World War II hindered the progress of espresso because the majority of the new developments with espresso machines were destroyed by bombings. However, in 1961, the first electric pump was developed, paving the way for modern espresso machines. Since then, espresso has taken the world by storm, catching on like wildfire. Today, seemingly every culture has its own way of enjoying espresso, and in this article, I will break down the top 23 most popular espresso-based coffee drinks.

1. Espresso

A shot of espresso in a shot glass sits on a black slatted wood table.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

Espresso translates from Italian to “express, to press out, squeeze out, or extract.” Simply put, the word accurately describes how the beverage is created. Espresso refers to a single espresso shot, which is approximately 30 milliliters or 1 ounce. It is referred to as a shot because espresso is extracted into a small shot glass.

2. Espresso Doppio

A double shot of espresso drips into a white, ceramic cappuccino mug.

Pulling a double shot into a cappuccino mug. Photo by Tabitha Turner

An espresso doppio, or “double,” refers to two shots of espresso, a double shot of espresso, or a double espresso. A doppio is typically 60 milliliters or 2 ounces and is how baristas are judged in competition. It is also known as a standard double because the standard pour for espresso quality in barista competitions is four single shots made from two double portafilters.

3. Espresso Ristretto

A “restricted” shot, or espresso ristretto, is a concentrated espresso of approximately 22 milliliters. A ristretto is a 1:1 ratio of grounds to weight, and because of the reduced extraction time, a ristretto is sweeter and more citrusy than an espresso. It also has more body and a bolder flavor profile.

4. Espresso Lungo

On the other hand, a “long” shot, or espresso lungo, is a less concentrated espresso of approximately 90 milliliters. A lungo typically has more bitterness than an espresso or ristretto because of the increased extraction time.

5. Espresso Macchiato

A macchiato sits on a small wooden tray next to a spoon. Behind the tray is a glass of ice water.

Photo by Takeaway

One of the most well-known espresso drinks is an espresso macchiato. The term macchiato means “marked,” and was used by early baristas as a way of differentiating from other beverages because it has a dot of microfoam. This adds some texture to your espresso. Contrary to popularized, commercialized versions of this drink, a macchiato does not contain steamed milk; expect a tiny bit of foam if you order this at a traditional cafe.

6. Café au Lait

A café crème, café au lait, or “coffee and cream” is a French drink made from espresso and topped off with foamed milk. Since milky drinks are only served at breakfast in France, a café crème is the perfect drink to dip your morning croissants into.

7. Café Noisette

Deriving from French, noisette translates to “hazelnut”, which is the color associated with a café noisette. This espresso beverage refers to espresso with a splash of steamed milk, creating a hazelnut color. Typically this is served with milk on the side whch is added by the drinker.

8. Cortado

Originating in Spain, a cortado is a 60ml double shot of espresso with 30ml of steamed milk. The term cortado comes from the Spanish verb “to cut”, and the milk is added to cut, or dilute, the level of acidity to make the espresso more palatable and easier to drink.

9. Cappuccino

A man pours steamed milk into a cappuccino mug.

Another milk-based favorite in the espresso world is the Italian cappuccino, which is a 1:1:1 ratio of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. The thick foam is what differentiates a cappuccino from other espresso drinks like the latte.

10. Dry Cappuccino

To make a dry cappuccino, take out the steamed milk and double the foamed milk. This results in a 2:1 ratio of foamed milk to espresso.

11. Americano

A Caffè Americano is a diluted espresso drink typically made with a 60ml double shot of espresso and 90ml of hot water. This creates a drink that is similar in strength and body to “American coffee,” but with a distinctly different flavor profile. The drink is similar to the Australian long black, but the water is added on top of the espresso.

12. Affogato

Someone's hand pours espresso over vanilla ice cream to make an affogato.

Pouring espresso over vanilla ice cream to make an affogato. Photo by Rich Gascho

The combination of espresso and vanilla ice cream makes not only a coffee milkshake but an Italian espresso affogato! A 60ml double shot of espresso and a 90ml scoop of vanilla ice cream create this tasty dessert, perfect for an after-dinner buzz.

13. Breve

Breve is an Italian term for “short”, and a caffè breve consists of equal parts espresso and half-and-half. Because half-and-half is a 1:1 ratio of whole milk and heavy cream, this short beverage is very creamy and decadent. Typically, it is served in an espresso cup.

14. Mocha

Caffè mocha gets its name from one of the early hubs of the coffee trade—Mocha, Yemen—and not from chocolate. Interestingly, these beans from the mountains of Yemen are unique as they do have chocolate-like notes. However, the drink is known for the addition of chocolate and sugar or chocolate syrup. Typically served in a glass, rather than a mug, a caffè mocha or mocaccino layers espresso, chocolate, steamed milk, and foam on the top. Typically, the foam is garnished with cocoa powder, chocolate shavings, cinnamon, or nutmeg. Variants of this drink include a white chocolate mocha, and a half chocolate, half white chocolate tuxedo mocha.

15. Mocha Breve

A caffè mocha breve is a combination of the caffè breve and the caffè mocha. Typically, a mocha breve is served layered in a glass, with a 60ml double shot of espresso over 60ml of chocolate, and 60ml of steamed half-and-half on top. A mocha breve can also be enjoyed over ice.

16. Café con Hielo

A double shot of espresso sits in a glass cup with ice.

A Café con Hielo is an iced espresso. Photo by Amr Taha

Café con Hielo derives from Spanish, meaning “coffee with ice” or “iced coffee.” This refreshing drink is typically made with a 60ml double shot of espresso, and it is sometimes mixed with sugar. Ice cubes are added on top of the espresso.

17. Café Bombon

Another drink of Spanish origin, the decidedly sweet espresso drink Café Bombon translates to “coffee confection” or “coffee candy.” It consists of 60ml sweetened condensed milk and 60ml espresso. It is typically served in a glass where the sweetened condensed milk is slowly poured on top of the espresso and sinks to the bottom, creating two contrasting layers. However, it is typically stirred before every sip.

18. Espresso con Panna

An espresso con panna is an espresso topped with whipped cream. In the UK and France, it’s referred to as a café Viennois. Similarly, a Vienna coffee is strong coffee topped with whipped cream.

19. Latte

A latte in a glass cup sits on a table next to a houseplant.

Photo by Jenna Neal

The most popular espresso drink in the U.S. is the latte. It is the most milk-based of all of the espresso drinks with a +3:1 ratio of steamed milk to espresso and a thin layer of foam on top. Due to the amount of steamed milk with a touch of foam, the latte has become the perfect canvas for latte art which is done with the precise pouring of milk and the use of spoons and stainless steel latte art needles.

20. Double Latte

A double latte consists of twice as much espresso and slightly less milk than a standard latte. The standard ratio for this drink is a 2:1 ratio of milk to espresso, with a thin layer of microfoam.

21. Flat White

A bolder version of a latte, the flat white originates from Australia and New Zealand and was popularized in the 1980s. It is bolder than a latte because of the 2:1 ratio of milk to espresso. The milk is steamed with a touch of microfoam. It is also similar to a cappuccino, because of the reduced milk volume, but with much less foam.

22. Black Eye

The most highly caffeinated espresso beverage is the Black Eye. It is a simple beverage and consists of a 2:1 ratio of a cup of drip coffee to espresso. Some say that the name comes from the fact that it happens to look like a black eye when poured, although some would argue that the drink is like a punch to the face due to the caffeine content!

23. Galão

The Portuguese espresso drink called a Galão is made from a 2:1 ratio of steamed milk to espresso. Even though Portugal does not grow coffee, it is a staple of Portuguese culture. While this drink may not seem to differ from many of the aforementioned espresso drinks, the difference is in the beans. Unlike the all-Arabica preference in most of the world, Portuguese coffee is typically a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. The beans are roasted more slowly, creating a less acidic espresso, and the Robusta beans create a creamier, thicker mouthfeel. If in Lisbon, for example, you will often have a glass of water to accompany and wash down this decadent beverage.

So which drink is your favorite? Which of these have you yet to try? If you’re an espresso lover like me, I would challenge you to create a bucket list to try them all! Even better, try them all where they happen to originate. Then you will truly dive into their cultural origins and what makes many of these beverages so unique!

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Growing up studying music and art, I always found myself in the local coffee shop after rehearsals and performances. Working through music school I became more and more of a foodie, and as I worked through my comprehensive exams, thesis, and dissertation, a hot, caffeinated beverage was always by my...

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