Making Basic Espresso Drinks

Making Basic Espresso Drinks

How many espresso drinks can you name?  More importantly, how many can you make?  While it seems that there are hundreds of different types of espresso drinks, most of the confusion comes from coffee shop.  Each shop creates names with the intention of setting them apart from other shops.  While Starbucks is the most blatant offender, almost every other coffee shop strays from using classic espresso names.

Drinking Espresso

Espresso Drinks Basic-Espresso

Let’s start at the beginning-espress0.  First of all, espresso is not a type of drink.  It is actually a very intensive cup of coffee.  While some roasts call themselves espresso roasts, the coffee used can be almost any type of ground roasted coffee.  For many, it is the perfect compliment to dessert after a great meal.

The process of making espresso is both simple and complicated.  Simple in that you are using only one ingredient-roasted ground coffee.  Complicated in that you need to have the proper equipment to make a good cup of espresso.  Because the goal of brewing these espresso drinks to a very intense coffee drink, you need to tamp or pack the coffee tightly into the portafilter (or filter basket).  Hot water is then forced through the grounds and steam is applied to increase the intensity of the flavor.

It will take about 3/4 ounces of ground coffee to end up with 1 1/2 ounces of espresso.  Making a good espresso at home does require you to have a good espresso maker.

Espresso Coffee Maker

The Americano

For those who love the taste of espresso but would like more coffee than just a small 1 1/2 or 3 ounce serving, the Americano may be the way to go.  Like many espresso drinks, it is a very basic beverage.  It consists of hot water and espresso, nothing else needs to be added.  Some like to add sugar or cream to their Americano, it is really a matter of personal preference.  The most common ratio of water to coffee is 4 to 1 (4 ounces of hat water to 1 ounce of hot espresso).


Meaning “marked” in Italian, a macchiato is an espresso “marked” with milk or cream.  Caffe Macchiato means “marked coffee” and this drink has become one of the more popular espresso drinks in US coffee shops.

This is a drink that really needs an espresso maker that has a steaming wand.  The espresso/milk ratio is usually 1 to 1, but you will steam 2 to 3 times the milk before assembling the drink.  The “marking” comes from the layer of espresso topped by the layer of steamed milk and foam.

Macchiato Espresso Drinks

Other Popular Espresso Drinks

There are a few other basic but very popular espresso drinks that you will see in almost every coffee shop.  The two that are quite popular are cappuchinno and latte.  While both are espresso drinks at the basic level, they are also sweeter and creamier than an espresso, americano or macchiato.  Both have high milk to coffee ratios (latte means “milk” in Italian) and are often served in tall glasses.  Both are very common iced coffee drinks and some of the coffee shops will top these drinks with whipped cream.

Like any other food or beverage, your choice will come down to your preference.  Just remember that espresso means an intensive, small cup of coffee that has been brewed using tightly packed ground coffee and steamed hot water.

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