All espresso-based drinks

Espresso is a coffee beverage that has become very popular worldwide. It is characterized as a concentrated, strong coffee with a dense cream. From this basic coffee, various drinks have been created that have become favorites among coffee lovers.

This article will explore the different espresso-based drinks, their ingredients, and how they are prepared. They are divided into two categories: black coffee and coffee with milk:

  • We will analyze single espresso, double espresso, Americano, Lungo, and Ristretto in the black coffee group.
  • We will analyze Macchiato, Cortado, Piccolo, Flat White, Cappuccino, and Caffé Latte in the coffee with milk group.

Espresso-based black coffee

Most of the coffees served in a coffee shop are prepared with an espresso machine. This machine is vital for the coffee shop since it guarantees that the espresso coffee is prepared with the right qualities to give rise to many other coffee drinks.

We will start with the basic but essential drink; the single espresso. This coffee is the starting point for many other black coffee preparations and is the basis for a latte, cappuccino, and macchiato, among others.

The single espresso

A black coffee, a shot of coffee, or simply an espresso. It is served in a small cup, and two espresso coffees can be prepared simultaneously; using a filter holder with two nozzles (the same amount of coffee comes from each nozzle).

Coffee flow in an espresso machine
Coffee flow in an espresso machine

The size is usually about 25 to 30 grams. It is a concentrated drink, very intense, with a rich flavor and a smooth structure. Before drinking it, it is good to stir it so that all the layers are mixed before tasting it.

Note: The Espresso is weighed instead of measuring the volume so that the crema does not influence the measurement, as it has a lot of volumes.

The double espresso

If you want an extra dose of caffeine with the same intensity (a stronger coffee), you can order a double espresso or a Doppio. The Doppio is the same as the double espresso, but the two shots of coffee are served in a larger cup, like a cappuccino cup.

Double Espresso or Doppio
Double Espresso or Doppio

Note: This option is cheaper as it is usually better priced than ordering two espressos.

The ristretto

Ristretto is an Italian word meaning “restricted” or “reduced” and refers to the amount of water used to prepare the coffee in the espresso machine. Compared to a regular espresso, in a Ristretto, less water is used to extract the coffee from the puck, resulting in a more concentrated and full-bodied coffee.

The volume of a Ristretto is smaller than that of an espresso, between 15 and 20 grams, but the same amount of ground coffee is used.

The Ristretto has between 15 and 20 grams
The Ristretto has between 15 and 20 grams

The americano

The Americano is a diluted espresso for those who prefer a less intense coffee. It is served in a Cappuccino cup; the barista first adds a single espresso and then adds between 3 and 4 ounces of hot water. The coffee maintains the flavor characteristics of espresso, but the intensity is milder.

Note: If the water is added first and then the espresso, it is known as Long Black.

Americano coffee and its proportions between coffee and water
Americano coffee and its proportions between coffee and water

The lungo

The Lungo is a coffee preparation obtained by making a longer espresso discharge in the machine. This is achieved by adjusting the grinder to obtain a longer extraction. The volume of a Lungo is usually 50 to 60 grams; that is, it is slightly larger than a regular espresso.

Differences between espresso and lungo ristretto
Differences between espresso and lungo ristretto

Despite being larger, the Lungo maintains the same flavor intensity as the espresso but has a greater volume of liquid. It is ideal for those who want more coffee with the same intense flavor.

Related: Differences between espresso, ristretto and lungo

Espresso-based coffee with milk

Most espresso-based drinks are black coffee combined with hot water or served directly from the machine. However, increasingly, coffee lovers prefer espresso coffee combined with milk.

The most popular options available are described here, such as cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos, which are coffees with milk and differ from each other in the proportion of coffee and milk used in each one. Flavorings and sweeteners can also be added to customize the coffee further.

The Cappuccino

The Cappuccino is one of the most popular coffee drinks worldwide. It is composed of a single shot of espresso and frothed milk. The proportion between the two ingredients varies depending on the coffee shop and cup size. Cups usually have between 5 and 7 ounces, allowing a proper balance between coffee and milk.


Latte Art is a technique of decorating coffee drinks with milk that uses milk foam to create different designs. This technique not only shows off the barista’s skills but also the precision in their steaming technique. Plus, it can make the day more enjoyable for the customer.

The flat white

The Flat White is a coffee drink that combines espresso’s intense flavor with steamed milk’s smoothness. It is prepared with a double espresso served in a 6-ounce cup. The main characteristic of this drink is the layer of fine and delicate foam poured over the coffee.

Importance of silky foam in Flat White
Importance of silky foam in Flat White

One thing that makes Flat White so special is that it can be decorated with latte art, giving it a touch of originality and creativity. It is an intensely flavored coffee drink with a smooth texture and an attractive presentation.

The Caffé Latte

If you are looking for a coffee drink with a predominantly milky flavor, the Café Latte is for you. It consists of a single espresso mixed with frothed milk and is served in relatively large cups, around 10 ounces.

The proportion of milk to coffee is higher than in other coffee drinks, allowing you to enjoy a smooth and creamy taste.

Latte coffee is one of the most popular coffee drinks worldwide. It is a versatile drink that can be customized with different syrup flavors. It is often served with a layer of foam on the surface and with some latte art drawing.

Latte Art
Latte Art

Related: Differences between cappuccino, latte and latte macchiato.

The espresso macchiato

If you prefer a drink with more coffee flavor and less milk (as opposed to the Café Latte), the Espresso Macchiato is your coffee. It is served in a small cup, where a single espresso is mixed with only a small amount of frothed milk. The ratio between the two ingredients is usually 1:1.

Espresso Macchiato is a popular drink among those looking for a more concentrated and less sweet coffee. Unlike other milk beverages, such as latte or Cappuccino, Espresso Macchiato has a stronger, less creamy flavor.

The Cortado

The Cortado is a popular coffee drink in many European countries, especially Spain. It consists of an espresso (single or double) mixed with a small amount of hot milk. Just a splash of milk is added, which allows you to enjoy the intense flavor of the coffee but with a touch of sweetness from the milk.

The presentation is served in a glass cup, which allows the color and creaminess of the coffee to be appreciated. It is important to mention that the milk is not frothed, which allows the coffee flavor to be the protagonist of the beverage.

The Cortado is for those who want to enjoy a coffee with a little milk but without so much froth or sweetness.

Piccolo Latte

The term “Piccolo” comes from Italian and means “small,” but this drink does not simply refer to a smaller latte.

The Piccolo Latte is served in 3 – 4 ounces glasses. It consists of single espresso mixed with 1 – 2 ounces of textured milk with a layer of silky foam on top (espresso to milk ratio is 1:2).

The espresso shot is blended with the textured, aerated milk to blend with the coffee and finished with a small amount of froth. This allows the espresso flavor to come through without being overpowering.


Here is a summary of all these espresso-based drinks that you can order in coffee shops so that you do not have any doubts at the moment of differentiating them:

  • Espresso is a short and intense coffee served in a small cup. In specialized coffee shops, the final drink is between 25 and 30 grams.
  • The double espresso is two espressos served in a larger cup.
  • The Ristretto is an espresso extracted with less water. The final drink has between 15 and 20 grams.
  • Americano is an espresso diluted with hot water (1:2 ratio), served in a larger cup.
  • The Lungo is a longer, less intense espresso (water ratio to coffee 1:3).
  • Flat White is a double espresso with frothed milk. The ratio of coffee to milk is about 1:4, where the milk is very finely textured.
  • Cappuccino is a single espresso with frothed and steamed milk; the coffee-to-milk ratio is 1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3.
  • A Caffé latte is a single espresso with frothed milk served in a large cup. The ratio of coffee to milk is approximately 1:10.
  • Espresso Macchiato is a single espresso with frothed milk served in a small cup. The proportion of coffee and milk is approximately 1:2.
  • Cortado is an espresso neat with a splash of non-foamed milk, often served in a glass cup.
  • The Piccolo Latte is an espresso mixed with steamed milk (1:2) and finished with a layer of foam on top.
Written by Pablo Barrantes Nevado
I am Pablo Barrantes, a coffee lover. I decided to start this website to solve all the doubts that arise every day when preparing our favorite drink: coffee. I am an industrial engineer by profession, but I have worked in coffee shops for many years, where I have learned all the secrets about coffee machines and coffee. My passion for coffee has led me to investigate and study beyond the obvious, and thanks to this, I can offer solutions and give news about coffee and coffee makers. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I research, document and write here.

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